Marketing , Augmented Reality

How Top Brands are Using Augmented Reality to Appeal to Kids

Facing difficulty marketing to children? Top brands such as McDonalds and Disney are using Augmented Reality to appeal to tech-savvy kids, with in-store marketing, mobile games, entertainment and interactive learning experiences.

 McDonald's is certifiably the King in the Kingdom of Kiddie Consumers. Their Happy Meals that offer children a ‘free’ toy (at the price of a premium on the meal), has become the order of choice for every family that sets a foot in the fast food chain. The giveaway toys are marketed as FUN, EXCITING, COLORFUL, RELEVANT and COLLECTIBLE to young children, and as free to parents. The children’s power to spend at these occasions drove McDonald’s success, garnering nearly 15% of it’s daily business and generating $10 million in revenue per day.

Children's Influence on Purchase Decisions

McDonald’s shows that kids are an important demographic for any business to market to. Children are actually three markets in one:

  • They have THEIR OWN PURCHASING POWER to spend on kid-specific things such as candy, toys, games and comic books.
  • They INFLUENCE THEIR PARENT’S SPENDING POWER in decisions such as family entertainment, places to visit, movies to watch, or where to eat out.
  • Kids now ARE THE ADULT CONSUMERS OF THE FUTURE, and it’s important for any businesses to start establishing brand visibility and loyalty as a long-term investment in customer acquisition.

Click here to know about the applications of Augmented Reality

Event Based Marketing

In the competitive world of advertising to children, only the brightest and the most exciting attempts will shine through. In times of digital innovation, one way to get ahead of the game is using augmented reality and mixed reality advertising to appeal to children. Even McDonalds realized the benefits of augmented reality marketing to appeal to children and started incorporating it into its campaigns. In 2014 McDonalds introduced a FIFA World Cup themed Augmented Reality game for children and adults alike that was activated by their iconic Fries package. Scanning the special packaging with the phone camera would turn your table into a football field, and the fries would become the goalpost that you had to shoot your digital football into, with other objects on the table as obstructions. Interestingly, the special packaging was available only on medium and large fries, encouraging children to buy the larger fries to experience the game and share their scores with their friends.



McDonalds GOL! App | McDonalds Argentina

 Augmented Reality for In-Store Marketing

It is these characteristics of digital marketing that attract children. Digital Marketing is colorful, attractive, engaging, and most importantly, rewardingIt is these characteristics that attract children. It caters to the childlike impulse of “see it-need it” that parents are also known to easily succumb to. Imagine a young child walking past a store in a mall, and seeing an animated character calling out to them in the store’s window.

game store comparison

Image 1: GAME Store AR Window from Ads Reality Show Reel | Image 2: GAME Store UK from

Compare this to a simple storefront. The AR equipped window would be far more eye-catching for children, and take their naturally curious nature into the store to see what more it has to offer. Inside the store, the child could find interactive signage, digital installations, or even mixed reality games! WOWSOME’s Twin Persona application is an example of an engaging mixed reality game that would keep children engaged in your store. Once they interact with the character in the game, they will want to take it home with them.

giphyTwin Persona by Wowsome

Tech-Savvy Young Consumers

In an age when children have so much exposure to technology, in-store marketing is not the only avenue of approaching children. The new generation spends all their time in front of an assortment of screens, especially mobile phones and tablets. This generation’s immersion in new tech also testifies why the Augmented Reality Game Pokemon Go was the most downloaded app of 2016, and why many other children’s brands, such as LEGO and Star Wars, followed suit on the AR Games for kids bandwagon. Most kids have their own devices, or at least power over which apps are downloaded onto their parents’ phones. A study titled Youth Media Participation (2009-11) done across Argentina, Egypt, Finland and India revealed that children between the ages of 7 to 18 have started to spend increasing amounts of time on the internet, especially Facebook and Youtube. They use these platforms for chatting, for entertainment, and even for homework.

The distinctive characteristic of new media is that it enables two-way communication, unlike the one-way communication of traditional media such as television, newspaper, and radio. Two way communication allows children to engage with the causes that brands and businesses want to present to them, and allows businesses to receive feedback and reports on brand engagement. Even political parties during their campaigns have used this boon of modern technology to connect with its younger audiences using an augmented reality app.

 Marketing for Food Products

Dutch Lady, a Ready To Drink Milk (RTDM) product from Vietnam launched an augmented reality app for kids in a last ditch effort to beat their competition in a highly competitive, 70% child driven category. Their freebie toy with each drink was becoming repetitive and boring to children, so they went the extra mile with an AR game ‘Flying Farm’ that could be activated with an invitation on the freebie toy. There were 30 different ‘cows’ that the children could collect, and the novelty value of the game prompted them to collect all the new toys and explore the different aspects of the app! This campaign increased their sales by 19%, exceeding their original target of 6%, and their app had over 40,000 downloads with a 92% return rate. This case shows how effective augmented reality is for marketing to children!


Dutch Lady Vietnam | 'Flying Farm App' Case Study

Marketing for Movies and Entertainment Products

The Smurfs Movie collaborated with Microsoft HoloLens to create an application that would bring a digital Smurf’s Village to the child’s own bedroom. This allowed the child to be familiar with the movie, and make sure to watch it when it came out due to a feeling of connectedness and curiosity.

Even Disney Research is working on a mixed reality Magic Bench that would be an interactive installation that children could sit on, and then play with their favorite characters. The ability of mixed reality marketing to create brand engagement, especially for children, is unmatched by other ways such as print media, or television ads.



Parents Love it!

The best thing about Augmented Reality for children is that even parents prefer it! Games that require children to move around and engage all their senses are far better than sedentary activities such as watching television, or playing video games all day. Augmented and Mixed reality apps, such as the exercise intensive game Pokemon Go, or the educational translation app WordLens, are far more beneficiary to developing children.

Learning and Creativity

Children’s most dreaded bedtime activity, reading, has been made FUN, and EXCITING with the use of technology. Augmented Reality books for kids, such as Ernie’s Wish Trail by AugPix have made it possible for characters on paper to come to life! Parents are now able to convince their children for daily reading with the promise of seeing the story come alive before their eyes virtually. There are even augmented reality coloring books by Disney that help young kids practice their coloring skills by seeing their illustrations become 3D and walk around their table.


ar disney cartoon

Image from Disney Research

For Healthy Habits

Parents are very welcoming to any new technology that aids their child’s improvement. Even boring daily tasks such as brushing your teeth are becoming augmented by technology so children feel motivated to keep themselves healthy and active. An Augmented Reality kids toothbrush Brush Monster is able to sync with the mouth, and track our daily brushing movements, generating records about which teeth need better brushing, and how to improve daily dental health. For fun, the child can use the app’s camera while brushing their teeth and find themselves augmented by new filters every morning, encouraging them to wake up and see what surprise their toothbrush has for them that day. This allows parents to track and improve their children’s dental hygiene while providing a fun and motivating augmented brushing experience for them every morning.


brushing teeth ar 2


brushing teeth ar

Brush Monster | Image from Medium

Children, being a large and versatile market, seem to be one of new tech’s most sought after target groups. They are ultimately the only generation born into technology, and those who will grow up in a world where technology dominates every aspect of life. To them, operating a tablet or a computer comes naturally, and being young, they aren’t afraid to experiment. It comes down to your business to make sure that your technology or app attracts children enough for them to adopt it into their life. If you provide rewarding, collectible, novel and exciting experiences to children, they will surely not be able to resist what you have to offer.