How AR has been and can be used as a valuable tool to promote Vegan campaigns now and in the future.

During Veganuary, brands across the world unveiled new plant-based items, from sausages to steaks, all allying themselves with an animal-free life. And who can blame them? With more and more people joining the cause, according to the Vegan Society, it’s now one per cent of the UK population that identifies as vegan. The movement is growing rapidly enough to cause farmers to think twice. As climate change rises to the top of the political agenda, and people are increasingly trying to pursue a healthy lifestyle that saves the planet, companies must serve the interests of their customers. For some companies this is a radical shift in focus, and one for which implementing an AR strategy is an excellent fit.

Using AR to tell a story 

As with any good campaign, imagery lies at its heart. Take Gregg's unveiling of the famous vegan sausage roll in 2019. The press release accompanying the launch provided the standard detail of the product, from the plant-based creation process to how it will be sold in all Greggs stores. So far, so standard. But what made the impact was that it was sent to journalists in an iPhone-like white box; a pastry renowned for cheapness delivered an up-market style. The juxtaposition made the story come alive and soar, with the product flying off the shelves over the weeks afterwards. It became a picture story, activated by a smart integrated marketing campaign. 

How does this involve AR? Because AR takes good imagery a step further and goes beyond a simple and static picture. It actively encourages participation and engagement, bringing people into the experience. In an oversaturated world where information doesn't reverberate far off the social media timeline, resonant content matters. Greggs showed the result of a successful campaign and the joy that it could reap from the unveiling. 

How AR will be used during Veganuary in 2021

So how do we see Veganuary in 2021? The key will be providing a new way to help people undertake the challenge. One of the most significant barriers for those starting is the lack of knowledge; how can people begin a plant-based diet? What recipes are available, and how should food be cooked? Brands have the opportunity to connect with the wider community, by providing help and advice to guide them on their way. 

With AR, people can scan the packaging and unearth tips and videos, guiding them on how to use the packaged item for their home cooking. By helping, brands ally with the cause, and in turn, customers are more likely to trust them and share their experiences with friends and family. This helps bring the story to life even further. If they do this, the story leaps off the news pages and enter private messaging apps, diced and explored by people exploring their new world. Becoming a topic of conversation has more power than what can be measured online. 

As one example, ZapWorks user and immersive agency FlyAR created an experience for the launch of the Santun Seitan Vegekebab. It does more than give tips and tricks; it provides straightforward steps via videos, for customers to follow along with. After that, the experience then links to the company website and social media to start a dialogue from there. AR improves the customer's experience after their purchase, with the potential to open a two-way conversation. Allowing the packaging itself to become a new media channel where it can provide unique and compelling stories that resonate long after leaving the shops.  

The future of vegan campaigns 

As Veganuary 2020 comes to a close, more people would have tried veganism and, perhaps, converted to the lifestyle fully.. People are drawn to the health benefits, helping the environment, and the cruelty-free way of life that it brings. At its heart, the movement is small, with a vocal minority that pushes it forward. But it's the speed of its momentum that has captured society's attention, as it sweeps up more and more people to join the fray. 

Using AR is a natural ally to the campaigns that brands may apply next year. As a storytelling tool, it brings people closer to the ingredients they use, helping and guiding them to, ultimately draw more value from the products they buy. Why not take the next step, and provide immersive content to help them use food, like the Santun Seitan Vegekebab? Or perhaps  take further steps, and create compelling content? As the movement rises, so will the use of AR technology.