It’s probably about time you caught up on the metaverse — it made headlines after last year’s announcement from Mark Zuckerberg that he has rebranded Facebook. The social media mogul, and head of the platform now known as Meta, explained his idea to create a new version of the internet.
The internet has transformed and already touched every aspect of our daily lives. So the metaverse promises to be a whole new universe.
The metaverse explained:
Brands have no choice – they either get on board or run the risk of missing out on this new digital world and a lucrative new marketplace.
So what are we looking at exactly? Essentially, the metaverse combines physical and online worlds to create a virtual reality universe. Imagine you could upgrade to the latest version of the internet, and get an immersive 3D experience. That’s what the metaverse will offer users, with the keyword being interoperability. The space will provide a free-flowing connection between virtual worlds, so people can move from one experience to the next in a frictionless way.
Right now, this concept is more an idea than a reality. We are still years away from Zuckerberg’s brainwave-taking (virtual) shape. But the buzz around the metaverse speaks for itself. More than just offering additional space for marketing, the metaverse is set to shake everything, from office interactions to leisure, and from communications to shopping. Brands have no choice – they either get on board or run the risk of missing out on this new digital world and a lucrative new marketplace.
Virtual products translate to real-life profits.
One of the most popular ways for brands to test the waters in the metaverse is through social gaming. Roblox is one such example – it has 43.2 million active daily users from 180 countries, a figure that certainly appeals to brands. Imagine having the capacity to reach over 40 million people in a space where they are comfortable and enjoy spending their time. It’s no wonder companies are taking an interest – and Gucci is one of them.
The fashion powerhouse has dived straight in, recently offering a limited-edition digital version of its “Gucci Dionysus Bag with Bee” on the platform. The online Gucci Garden hosted the event held by the fashion house, and customers were quick to snap up the bag for 475 Robux (about $6).
Just like in real life, the bag was quick to hit the resale market, with one seller walking away with 350,000 Robux (around $4,115). Virtual products translate to real-life profits, and there’s no doubt that the metaverse can make money for brands. $4,000 for a digital bag is more than you would need to spend to get the physical version, which goes for just $3,400. And although this particular Gucci bag only holds value in the virtual world, it shows that the fashion house was right to test the waters. The metaverse is a money-maker.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are another way companies can get the most out of the metaverse, as they exist in the same cross-over space between the physical and the digital. Made and traded on the metaverse, NFTs can be anything from outfits for your avatar to virtual yachts to digital art. The tokens use blockchain to vouch for their authenticity, which means they can be reliably sold and tracked. Not only that, but they have the potential to go up in value with every trade.
The long-term viability of NFTs is still up for debate, but that hasn’t stopped big-name brands like Coca-Cola, Warner Bros., and Hyundai from offering their own. Once again, Gucci has led the way in proving that digital items can be a money-spinner. The fashion house’s “Proof of Sovereignty” digital artwork was recently sold at auction at Christie’s for almost one million dollars. And the buzz has spread from luxury brands to restaurant chains, with Taco Bell’s taco-themed tokens reselling for up to $200,000. You can also check our ultimate guide for NFT marketing strategies article as further reading.
Tinder and Bumble have also flirted with the metaverse, as they look for ways to integrate dating into the new virtual world. Following in the footsteps of Roblox and Fortnite, where kids and teens deprived of in-person social interaction since the outbreak of Covid-19 have held socially distanced birthday parties and meetups, these leading dating apps are looking at ways to introduce potential matches on the metaverse.
As Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg told Reuters Next, they are looking at “how to blur the boundaries between offline and online worlds”. The latest features offered by the app include an “Explore” feature and “Swipe Nights”, a choose-your-own-adventure interactive event. The dating platform is also testing an in-app currency to pay for premium services. Bumble has also jumped on the bandwagon and is looking at how blockchain and cryptocurrencies can potentially provide users with a unique identity and app experience.
The ultimate goal remains to get people to connect in person. But in the world we live in since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual dating might be the next best thing.
In the leisure and entertainment world, it’s perhaps easier to see where the metaverse has a place. Shopping, gaming, and dating have all moved more online since smartphones began to transform society. But how can the metaverse impact the way we work?
The metaverse could go some way towards replacing water-cooler chats.
The post-Covid landscape is marked by one brand in particular – Zoom. But while they have helped make remote working a reality, virtual meetings come at a cost. We have lost the non-verbal cues that ease in-person interactions. There is even a name for the anxiety that comes with too many work calls – Zoom fatigue. But thanks to the metaverse, there might be a way to replace the social interaction now missing from many home offices, and it could go some way towards replacing water-cooler chats.
An immersive virtual world might provide us with a more natural way to communicate with each other. Imagine attending a meeting with colleagues who look like digital versions of themselves, in a virtual version of your office. Social cues would be easier to follow in virtual-reality work events on the metaverse. Zoom calls would no longer need to be formal, and coworkers could attend onboarding sessions or conferences in a more organic workspace, online.
Interoperability is key.
As shown by recent partnerships between Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and Microsoft’s Office 365, Sharepoint, OneDrive, and Teams, interoperability is key. Greater integration means that users can seamlessly move from one platform to the next, as an immersive and fully interconnected metaverse becomes a reality in business.
Social media profiles and websites are what works today, but the metaverse will be the way brands reach and interact with consumers tomorrow.
While we can’t yet know for sure just how the metaverse will change our day-to-day existence, there is no doubt that companies will need a long-term metaverse strategy. Social media profiles and websites are what works today, but the metaverse will be the way brands reach and interact with consumers tomorrow.
The time for brands to experiment is now, while the metaverse is still in its early stages. Companies can start small, by selling NFTs, offering AR and VR experiences, opening an online store, or holding a virtual exhibition – all options that require low initial investment.
Companies on the cutting-edge will soon see the potential of a fully immersive, 3D space, and early adopters can expect to reap the benefits.
Roblox has seen this, reaching some 40 million people a day, and Gucci too can testify, following the sale of a virtual handbag for more than a real one. There is no end to the possibilities. Brands should look to the virtual horizon and embrace their digital transformation – or risk getting left behind.