LONDON: Around two-thirds (68%) of marketers in the UK believe that using emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, in their Christmas campaigns gives brands a competitive edge.

In addition, nearly a third (32%) say these new technologies help to drive customer loyalty to a brand, while more than half (55%) believe they are useful in attracting potential customers.

These are some of the headline findings from an online survey of more than 500 UK marketers conducted by YouGov on behalf of Adobe, the technology firm, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Combined with a separate online survey of almost 2,200 UK consumers aged 18+, the results contributed to The Future of Experience at Christmas report, which examined how emerging technologies are being used in 2016 Christmas campaigns.

The survey further revealed that nearly one-third (31%) of marketers see emotional connection as the most effective way to grab consumers’ attention during the festive season.

And one-quarter regard emerging technology as a key element in building stronger emotional connections with customers in their marketing campaigns.

However, while marketers appear to be enthused about the opportunities presented by emerging technologies – and despite their higher visibility this year – the report concluded that their widespread usage remains unlikely until Christmas 2017 or beyond.

That's because one-third (32%) of UK marketers say that using these new technologies in campaigns is just too difficult at present, suggesting that budgets and insufficient knowhow are key challenges to implementation.

There are problems on the consumer-side too, with YouGov's consumer survey revealing that 44% have not seen these technologies used during the holiday season.

Yet almost 3-in-10 (29%) of consumers say they would be interested in seeing these technologies used in future, while over a fifth (22%) believe emerging technologies would attract them to a specific brand at Christmas.

Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, and co-author of the report, said: "This Christmas, we're seeing early adopters and progressive organisations harness the power of emerging technologies to engage customers and extend the reach of their brands.

"However, the relative lack of awareness and readiness amongst the wider marketing community for harnessing the power of the emerging technologies driving empathetic customer experiences like serendipity and adaptability is staggering.

"The research shows widespread lack of recognition and emphasis on the need for brands to market both through and to smart machines for meaningful engagement with customers."

Warc's Toolkit 2017 expects that the use of virtual and augmented reality will be a significant trend in the coming year. Readers can download a free summary here.

Data sourced from Adobe, Goldsmiths University; additional content by Warc staff