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IKEA uses augmented reality to launch PS furniture collection

To launch its PS collection, IKEA used an augmented-reality application that lets users see how furniture pieces would look in their homes.

Consumers are encouraged to download the application via posters in German stores and via Bluetooth channels. The Swedish furniture retailer tapped German mobile marketing company Clanmo GmbH for the promotion.

?The strategy was to provide mobile support for the IKEA PS market launch in Germany,? said Jill Urbanek, consultant at Clanmo, Munich, Germany. ?The new design collection from IKEA was launched with the slogan ?Never-ending Design Stories,? so the unusual designs made IKEA look for unusual ways to promote it.

?The mobile campaign was to offer a clear benefit for its customers that would address their expectations and help them make purchasing decisions when shopping in IKEA,? she said.

IKEA is a Swedish furniture retailer and is no stranger to the mobile space.

The Swedish furniture retailer?s Seattle store has been running a monthly mobile contest giving opted-in consumers the chance to win a $500 IKEA gift card. The Seattle store also features a mobile club offering customers savings and special offers to encourage loyalty. The mobile site serves almost as a shopping assistant (see story).

Does the coffee table match the couch?
Ms. Urbanek said that a primary challenge her company addressed was creating a mobile idea that helps consumers overcome the barrier presented by imagining how a piece of furniture would look in their homes.

To overcome that barrier, Ms. Urbanek said that Clanmo and IKEA turned to an augmented reality application.

?Target groups do not know how well the new IKEA PS collection would fit into their homes,? Ms. Urbanek said. ?This could prevent them from buying.?

Using the camera from the consumer?s mobile device, the application lets the user visually place the piece of furniture in their homes.

The application features eight pieces from the PS collection.

Consumers launch the application and with their device?s camera they can see a piece of new furniture in their home.

The piece of furniture is superimposed on top of the room viewed through the camera.

Furniture pieces are scaled to size so that the proportions of the piece are not distorted.

The application lets consumers use keys on the handset to move the piece of furniture in different directions.

Consumers could save the photo or send it to friends via MMS.

IKEA promoted the application with a Bluetooth post in IKEA of Hamburg, Germany.
Additionally, consumers were asked to text in and receive a link to the mobile download site via SMS.

IKEA also used the PC Web as a third channel of communication. The retailer launched an online microsite via the IKEA official Web site.

From the microsite, consumers could enter their mobile numbers and receive the SMS with the WAP link.

Ms. Urbanek said that IKEA saw an average user response of 5.21 percent via the in-store Bluetooth post.

The application was requested by SMS in-store a total of 6,800 times and the IKEA PS microsite saw a unique user base of 15 percent.

Ms. Urbanek said that augmented reality addresses the question of added value with technology being the primary vehicle.

?The beauty of the IKEA application is the simplicity and strong appeal of the basic challenge: overcome the purchase barrier,? Ms. Urbanek said. ?While this would be very difficult to do in the physical world, it is a perfect application for mobile to connect digital and reality.?