One of our favorite things to do at Zappar is to reach out to our ZapWorks community and find out what they’ve been creating. These projects are wide-ranging, from hobbyists and freelancers experimenting with AR to more strategic brand activations. The latter is certainly true of the brand at the focus of our first ZapWorks user story, English cricket bat maker, Gray-Nicolls (for our American friends, feel free to learn more about the glorious game of Cricket).
Founded in 1855, Gray-Nicolls are a brand (to quote their strapline) “Where tradition meets Innovation". Staying true to this mantra, Gray-Nicolls have turned to augmented reality and ZapWorks to bring their brand story to life in a modern and innovative way.
Based in East Sussex, UK, we stopped by their offices for a quick chat about how they’re utilising AR and ZapWorks, and how it’s positively affecting everything from design and innovation to marketing and sales.
Implementing AR and ZapWorks from a brand perspective
Q&A with Nick Wilton, Brand Manager at Gray-Nicolls.
Nick Wilton, the Brand Manager had to shoot off before filming so we caught up with him this week to get his thoughts and insights from a brand and marketing perspective.
CH: Hi Nick, let’s dive right in. Why did you choose augmented reality and ZapWorks to add value to the Gray-Nicolls brand?
NW: We were looking at ways of increasing customer engagement but also how we could enhance the value of the Gray-Nicolls catalogue in a new and exciting way. From a brand perspective, we wanted an effective way of communicating our history, legacy and tradition in an engaging and meaningful way that resonated with our audience and was relevant to the modern-day game.
After a recommendation from a contact in India and doing a fair bit of research we landed on ZapWorks as our AR solution.
CH: That’s great, and what made you chose AR over other experiential (or traditional) marketing and communication tools?
NW: Yeah, so we have a lot of physical touch points for the Gray-Nicolls brand like marketing materials, POS, posters and so on, and we just felt that augmented reality would be great at bridging the gap between our physical touch points and the more dynamic (digital) aspects of the brand.
It also meant we could bring our brand ambassadors and product developers over from simply being online to lead the brand story in-stores and in our print materials. This was a real bonus from a brand building point of view as it really adds that personal touch to the product.
CH: What were your goals for using AR - what did success look like?
NW: In the first instance, it was a learning exercise for us. We had an inkling that there was mileage in AR and it could really work well with the brand and our existing customer journey, so we started experimenting at relatively low risk to the brand.
In terms of KPIs, we simply wanted to gauge people’s reaction to the tech first and foremost. Obviously, seeing the number of people that were engaging with the tech was important as well, but we were really looking at AR from a qualitative point of view - how much positive feedback we were seeing from the end user and our retailers.
CH: What’s the reaction been like with the end user and your retailers?
NW: Reaction from our retailers has been really positive. It's enabled them to both sell better and communicate the brand story more effectively, thereby dramatically improving the in-store engagement.
Also, from an internal perspective, it’s challenged us to think differently about brand and product design. Now, before we start designing new products we think - “how can we incorporate AR...how can AR enhance our brand story” - that, for us, is an absolute gamechanger.
CH: What’s next for Gray-Nicolls? How will you be looking to develop the brand further with AR?
NW: We'll definitely be looking to integrate AR further into our 2019 product range. We’re really excited about the opportunities AR brings to us as a business. Having finished the initial testing and exploratory work, we’re ready to take it to the next level and start thinking about AR more strategically, which will mean a deeper integration within our brand, product and marketing mix.
CH: What are some of the ideas you’ve had? Can you share any with us?
NW: We’ll be looking to develop more AR-enabled POS for our retailers as well as product education experiences using alpha channel video that teaches our customers how to care and look after their cricket bats. Likewise, from a retention and customer loyalty point of view, we’re thinking about incorporating AR-enabled thank-you cards that customers receive once they’ve purchased from us.
CH: What advice would you offer to other brand managers, or indeed brand owners, looking to take a swing at AR?
NW: Be brave and go just for it! Figure out how AR can work for you and your wider brand strategy and simply start experimenting with different approaches. We’ve been very pleased with the results.
More from Gray-Nicolls
If you'd like to learn more about Gray-Nicolls and their products, head over to www.gray-nicolls.co.uk.