Disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality are changing the contemporary marketing landscape, the way the companies satisfy customers’ needs and they allow new business models to be created. These technologies benefit from the advances in technology and digital capabilities, which consist of a massive data availability which can be analysed, and direct marketing including social media platforms which can help to boost the adoption of AR and AI. As a result, the customers’ needs are satisfied in a more personalised and interactive way than before. Satisfying buyers’ needs through value creation leads to their commitment, trust, and bond which are key elements in the relationship marketing. Therefore, it can lead to clients’ loyalty, referrals, and word-of-mouth. Companies which do not have the expertise or the financial resources to adopt AR and AI technologies can co-operate with firms specialised in these fields to get the benefits.
Artificial Intelligence represents machines’ ability to emulate human thinking, decision-making, and reasoning. Advances in digital capabilities and technology such as new algorithms, cloud-based data sets which are massive and faster processing make it possible for businesses from many industries and sectors to adopt AI which uses the large unimaginable amount of data available nowadays. Under the umbrella of Artificial Intelligence, there are subcategories such as natural language generation, machine learning which includes deep learning, decision management, natural language processing, speech recognition, virtual agents like digital virtual assistants and chatbots, computer vision and robotics process automation.
The applications of these disruptive technologies can be used in different business functions from marketing to ‘supply chain management with AI-powered robots which are able to manage the warehouses and order new stock automatically when inventory is low. Furthermore, using deep learning e-commerce purchases can be predicted. In comparison with the forecasting and replenishment systems which are conventional, the machine learning approaches consider real-time data such as prices, advertising campaigns, local weather forecasts and sales data history and all the data associated with the internet of things in order to provide accurate forecast projections and replenishment optimisation. Otto, a German retailer company uses an AI application to forecast the sales over the next month which is 90 % accurate.
Most of the marketers in Canada, UK and United States use AI in predictive analytics, campaign decision-making, personalisation, prescriptive analytics and conversational interfaces. Tasks such as data entry can be done using robotic process automation, meaning it is generated from human speech using natural language processing and processing, analysing and acting on multiple data sources is done through machine learning.
Augmented Reality is shaping the way businesses operate and is expected to make waves in the world of marketing. The AR or Virtual Reality technologies are used in areas such as videogames, video entertainment, retail, education, military, engineering area and they are built in a complex ecosystem. Augmented Reality technology disrupts the way individuals shop. VR/AR technologies have the potential to reduce the need for in-store display inventory reducing the value of brick-and-mortar companies.
AR apps or features are used by customers to virtually try on clothes or see the furniture in their house. Wayfair and IKEA are two players in the market which use AR to show clients how the furniture would look in their house. Moreover, L’oreal and Sephora introduced their AR mirror which virtually allows individuals to try on makeup products using their app. The AR Modiface Technology used in the cosmetics industry reduces the stress of buyers spending in the store and speed the decision-making process. Therefore, it is changing the way the value is delivered to customers through the marketing mix.
Social media giants such as Facebook and Snapchat are the dominants in AR advertising. For example, Snapchat can offer sponsored branded AR filters available for users which can be potential clients for the firm that Snapchat co-operated with.
Google made a partnership with Gap Company to allow customers to try clothes virtually using The Dressing Room app, Google Tango’s AR platform. The self-service feature on the mobile app offered online by retailers allows personalisation and enhance the shoppers’ experience, driving the increase in online sales and competitive advantage.
Nowadays, companies which decided to adopt disruptive technologies such as AI and AR, have a sustainable competitive advantage due to these technologies’ attributes which are not beneficial just for the companies which are utilising them but also for the stakeholders whether they are internal or external. The beneficial aspect of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality is the fact that they allow companies to obtain in an innovative quicker way interactive engagement, databases management, and different value creation through the marketing mix addressing customers and other stakeholders needs in comparison with competition.
Companies using this type of technologies can also be more cost-effective and profitable obtaining return on investment. The outcomes of satisfied customers who are committed to the brand, have a bond with it and trust the firm are repeated purchase (loyalty), referrals and word-of-mouth. Regarding businesses that decide not to adopt disruptive technologies, they face a real challenge and they need to rethink their business approach, and to come with new value propositions in order to overcome the threat. Another option for them would be to collaborate with companies which are specialised in AR or AI to benefit from the advantages of these two disruptive technologies. Therefore, relationship marketing becomes even more significant.