By now, you’ve likely heard of the Metaverse. It’d be hard to avoid it — in the last 90 days there have been more than 20,000 articles referring to the term, with companies like Facebook, Epic Games/Fortnite, Roblox, Snap, NVIDIA, and Unity all in on the action. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook’s entire future on it. “We will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a Metaverse company,” he says.
So, what exactly is this nebulous digital universe and how does it impact brands and marketers?
In essence, ‘The Metaverse’ is a promise by some of the largest technology players in the world to aggressively take global connectivity to the next level. The best definition I’ve found for “The Metaverse” is:
‘A virtual world where large numbers of people can gather to play, work or socialize.’
But, wait. Don’t we already have something like this called The Internet?
Well, this isn’t your Grandad’s internet. As of 2021, the average human attention span is only 8 seconds (Oracle), and the way that consumers engage online is changing, with younger demographics already conditioned to shop and socialize digitally through social media AR filters, video games and immersive interactive, real-time content. We are witnessing a revolution in consumer behaviour driven by a digital renaissance and hyper-accelerated by a global pandemic.
The Metaverse is a promise of something new, something that brings the digital experience into the real world and vice versa. In a new study by marketing giant, Wunderman Thomson (WPP) showed that 93%
of global consumers agree that technology is our future.
With the addition of LiDAR 3D scanners on phones, VR headsets hitting the mainstream and over 7 billion devices capable of rendering high-quality 3D experiences instantly and with insane download and latency speeds being delivered by 5G, brands now have a unique opportunity to build their contribution to The Metaverse. So what are the benefits to consumers and brands that will ignite the creation of The Metaverse now and well into the future?
Top ways brands can innovate and grow in The Metaverse.
- vStores (MetaVRse) — Virtual Showrooms or vStores allow customers to take tours of any space or facility and interact with all kinds of objects ranging from a complete catalog of industrial machines to small tools or engineering processes. This can be used to visualize and interact with any retail product in 3D from cars to fashion to jewelry and NFT digital assets — you name it. Try a live vStore Concept here.
- Product Sales Training (Samsung) — This example of the Samsung Note 20 shows how product demos and sales training are almost identical and can be created once and used multiple times throughout an organization.
- Advanced 3D Analytics and Data (MetaVRse) — Until now, the data we could collect was two dimensional. Introducing the Z-dimension allows for real time heat maps of global consumer behaviour. The future of data is here and it’s in 3D.
- Customizers & Configurators (Mercedes) — Similar to the Nike example, this live demo allows users to configure their ideal G-Wagon. Try it!
5. Testing New Designs and Colourways (Nike) — This proof-of-concept shows how consumers can design their ideal show. The information gained from this experience can be connected directly to business intelligence tools. Try it yourself!
6. Gamified Commerce (Balenciaga) — Balenciaga released its Fall 2021 collection in the form of an online video game titled Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. The dystopian game brings the brand to life in a fully 3D, interactive way.
7. Gamified Commerce (Louis Vuitton) — French iconic brand Louis Vuitton created an iOS and Android game where players collect 200 candles to unlock fascinating stories about the brand.
8. Social Gaming Product Partnership (Gucci x Roblox) — Step into the world of luxury fashion and experience a one-of-a-kind, interactive virtual exhibit inspired by Gucci Garden Archetypes, an immersive multimedia experience that explores and celebrates the Gucci brand.
9. Connect Data Directly Into Business Intelligence Tools (Oracle) — The global head of XR at Oracle shows how the web-based MetaVRse Engine connects seamlessly and instantly to their Maxymiser business intelligence tool.
10. Increase conversion Rates (Shopify) — Shopify has been touting the benefits of 3D for years and has built quite a substantial network of suppliers to help their merchants move into this new medium. In this CODE talk, Shopify’s head of XR talks about the immediate and future benefits of XR for retailers and brands.
11. Exponential Rise in Creator Economy (Gamasutra) — Before turning 21, the average American has spent upwards of 10,000 hours playing video games — that’s 3 times more than they’ve spent reading books. We have the responsibility to use technology and marketing to make humanity better. Unlocking the creativity of people everywhere is the dream of any brand. Being able to make money in the Metaverse is a dream for those looking to live in rural areas again with things like Starlink to keep you connected.
12. Sell Virtual Goods for Real Money (Isobar) — In 2021, it’s estimated that more than $100 billion will be spent on virtual goods in gaming platforms alone. This virtual spend creates an enormous opportunity for businesses to generate real money on merchandise for virtual worlds.
13. Virtual Photoshoots (IKEA catalogue) — When You Flip Through an IKEA Catalog, 75% of the ‘Photography’ You See is CGI. Photos aren’t photos. From the furniture to the beautiful light falling on the countertops and wood floors, what you’re looking at is a CGI rendering that has replaced 75% of the ‘photos’ in the IKEA catalogs.
14. Greater Sustainability (Shopify) — Fewer returns, less travel, fewer physical prototypes and samples. This is great for your bottom line and even better for our planet.
15. Reduce Returns (Macy’s) — In this XR For Business Podcast interview with yours truly, the Head of XR at Macy’s explains how they saw a 60% increase in sales and a 25% decrease in returns using XR.
18. Fun, Virtual Worlds. What could be better than designer Keith Haring collaborating with Disney and Coach?! This interactive world is filled with fun and exploration. (Coach x Disney)
WHY ACT NOW?
We are in the new attention economy and you are competing with AAA games and Hollywood movies for mindshare. Video is great, but it’s no longer enough. If an image says 1000 words, an interactive 3D experience says 1000 images, a 1 million fold increase!
As a means of highlighting the imperative urgency that brands need to take; Nike has experienced a decade’s worth of digital transformation in one year. Nike is currently at 50% digital direct to consumer from 25% pre-covid. (Masters of Scale).
Not only will brands be able to engage with younger consumers in their native environments, but new opportunities are emerging for savvy brand marketers, including the sales of virtual goods and real estate through NFTs (Article).
The Metaverse will indelibly change the way that we communicate, shop and socialize. In fact, it already has for younger demographics. As Gen Z grows in number in our consumer population, the retailers that haven’t digitally transformed to adapt to the Metaverse risk becoming obsolete.
The time is NOW to get started leveraging The Metaverse. The virtual economy will become as important as the physical economy. “Many brands intuitively or on purpose are moving towards the metaverse which is creating a global economy on track to exceed the current one many times over. (Forbes).
The last piece of advice I will give you before Part II of this article is to buy and read “The Augmented Workforce: How Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and 5G Will Impact Every Dollar You Make” by Metaverse gurus; Cathy Hackl and John Buzzell.
23 Additional Resources to help you understand the Metaverse and how your brand can add value now and in the future. CLICK HERE.
How to get started in The Metaverse… This article is continued: A Brand Guide to The Metaverse (Part II)…
About The Author
Alan Smithson’s purpose in life is to inspire and educate people to think and act in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible way.
Alan is a TEDx Speaker, Podcast Host and was featured on Dragons’ Den. He was a professional DJ for more than 20 years performing for millions of people winning DJ Mag’s Innovative Product of the Year in 2011.