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Snap Inc. Discusses the Power of AR for the Future

At 10 years old, the company is continuing to innovate with technology that helps brands reach consumers.

Over the course of 10 years, Snap Inc. has evolved and matured to become engrained in the way people live and engage in the world today.

Much of the company’s evolution, Jeremi Gorman, chief business officer at Snap Inc. said during a conversation with Emily Dougherty, special correspondent for Beauty Inc, has been around augmented reality.

“We’re pretty widely known for really important things like vomiting rainbows and puppy dog years,” said Gorman. “But that has evolved entirely into now what is AR as a utility and so many people here in this room are the people that pushed us toward that, in particular over the last 18 months when things like makeup try-on was really difficult because the idea of putting on lipstick after somebody else’s lipstick got a little weirder.”

With AR, she said, Snap Inc. has been able to share that experience while keeping people feeling connected to close friends and family in a fun, communicative way that’s full of pictures. Notably, Snap Inc. calls itself a camera company.

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“The reason that it’s so central to our overall business is because it is the way that Gen Z and young Millennials are communicating,” said Gorman. “So when we look at our numbers overall, we have 90 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, and 75 percent of this overall generation are using the camera. It’s very central to the strategy to ensure that people are feeling free to express themselves in the moment.”

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To give some perspective, Snap Inc.’s data shows that 200 million people engage in AR every single day in the Snap camera. That’s about 5 billion pictures or videos taken every single day in the Snap camera.

“They don’t even know they’re doing it and that’s the part that’s so interesting. If you were to ask a 20-year-old if they are using augmented reality, they’d be like, ‘no this is just what I do, this is how I put on my makeup, by swiping on a certain direction and it just goes on to my face, or I’m trying to show the world around me and putting an overlay of here I am at this restaurant.”

Augmented reality, Gorman told the audience, is where Snap Inc. is placing its big bet for the future.

“We really believe that computing overlaid on the actual world around you is where we’re placing our big bet and the future relative to taking you to some separate place where you have some separate life and you’re represented in some separate way,” Gorman explained, versus virtual reality and the metaverse which represents a universe not connected to real life.

Speaking to AR’s utility for fashion and beauty, in particular, the company has had various try-on collaborations with brands including nail polish and lipstick. Most recently in a collaboration with Nike AirJordans, users were able to design a pair and then use the Snap camera to try them on and ultimately order them.

“We’re starting to see a lot of that purchase behavior,” said Gorman. “Everybody will want to have that kind of representation. We’re very focused on the world that you live in and enhancing it.”