Augmented reality valuable to Asia-Pacific foodservice vendors to drive consumer engagement, operational efficiency, says GlobalData

Foodservice companies in the Asia-pacific (APAC) region are investing in technologies like augmented reality (AR) to raise their profile and stay in touch with relevant trends, such as social media and the metaverse, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Augmented Reality (AR) in Foodservice’, reveals that foodservice companies are using AR as a utility and as well as an entertainment tool. GlobalData estimates the global AR market, which was worth $7bn in 2020, to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36% over the next 10 years.

Rupantar Guha, Principle Analyst in Thematic Team at GlobalData, comments: “AR aids foodservice vendors in resolving challenges associated with environmental, social, and governance (ESG), economic uncertainty, digital lifestyles, and COVID-19. It also enables brands to differentiate from their peers by improving consumer engagement and operational efficiency.”

Jemima Walker, Associate Analyst in Thematic Team at GlobalData, comments: “Foodservice companies have been experimenting with AR to engage with customers for years. For example, Starbucks partnered with Alibaba to bring AR experiences to its Shanghai Reserve Roastery in 2017, educating customers on the cultivation, roastery, and serving processes.”

In 2020, following the implementation of travel restrictions due to COVID-19, Domino’s launched a webAR experience with 8th Wall to celebrate its new pizza, The World 10 Cheese Quattro, taking consumers on a virtual world tour of the cheeses on the pizza. More experiments will follow as AR matures and brands become aware of the technology’s marketing and customer relationship benefits.

Foodservice companies have also been experimenting with the use of AR smart glasses for remote collaboration and operational management across APAC locations.

Yum China has deployed AR smart glasses in pilot stores to monitor real-time ordering and serving procedures. Sodexo has launched a program to support remote and isolated sites with AR smart glasses across seven countries.

While this may deliver greater operational efficiency, the high cost of AR smart glasses will restrict the adoption by large quick-service restaurants and foodservice suppliers in the short-term.

Walker concludes: “Although several large foodservice companies have experimented with AR in the APAC region, widespread adoption has been slow. However, GlobalData expects increasing adoption of AR in the future due to the rising acceptance of QR codes, which provides an easy route to initiate AR content on a screen. Asian Big Tech players like Alibaba and specialist AR vendors such as peAR Technologies and Grub Lab will push foodservice companies to adopt AR as a channel to enter the metaverse.”

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