Updated: Feb 11
Is Metaverse real? Since Facebook changed it's name to Meta last year, there has been so much conversation around the topic lately.
People are wondering - What is Metaverse? Is it one shared digital space? How can one buy, market and sell in Metaverse? Do we use cryptocurrency to make a purchase?
Three days ago Estee Lauder launched its own Metaverse, complete with a “fully functioning economy”. The platform allows consumers to shop and play virtually along with others at any given time. And more brands such as - Walmart, Microsoft, Nike - embracing and making a commitment to it as a new medium to sell their merchandise on.
If you haven’t read about it (Metaverse), it is a digital realm powered by Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 3D technologies, where users (as avatars) can live, work, create, shop, play, invest and stay connected with one another in a digital world, parallel to the real world.
It is a highly immersive, virtual environment where people will not only be able to attend sporting events, music concerts, shop for physical and digital goods including real estate using real money and cryptocurrency but also get to experience as if they were actually there instead of looking at things through a computer or mobile screen as we currently do.
Metaverse platform will allow brands to benefit by saving them huge costs, eliminating geographical barriers and melding the online and offline worlds. They will see sustainability benefits and at the same time have an opportunity to offer their customers a whole new level of retail experience. Customers, on the other hand will get to enjoy convenience and more control while shopping virtually as well as experience the intrigue and novelty of it all.
Enhanced ecommerce offerings are already on the market today and brands are seeing higher conversion rates (94% higher as per Shopify) on products that utilize AR and 3D technologies.
Virtual store browsing - Brands such as Coach and Dermalogica provide immersive, interactive, lifelike 3D virtual shopping experiences for its customers. Consumers can discover, learn and shop for products and services. They can experience new collections each season, attend launch parties and events, play games and even earn perks and discounts (Estee Lauder) all from the comfort of their home.
Virtual Try ons - We all like to try on products before we buy. Whether we’re in the market for buying a dress, a watch or furniture and home goods, we want to know - will this fit me well? How will I look wearing this? How will it look in my house? With AR experiences such as virtual try-on, consumers can now try on a digital representation of the physical product or decorate their space, all while sitting on their couch. Digitized styling and digital couture are already being offered by some brands including some luxury brands like Gucci.
Customers today like the convenience of online shopping but they prefer the tangibility that only in-store shopping brings. They like the feeling of entering the store, touching and feeling - engaging with the product. In Metaverse, using AR/VR/3D technologies, brands will be able to bridge the gap between in-store and digital shopping, providing a superior omni-channel shopping experience. Customers can experience the same feeling of walking into a store, looking around, engaging with associates and making a purchase for a physical or digital product.
Imagine walking through a photorealistic virtual mall, looking at various photorealistic digital storefronts, enjoying the experience with your friend, who might be half way across the globe.
For brands, this could mean new ways to engage and convert customers while providing them with superior customer service.
To make this happen, they will have to think about purchasing virtual real estate, setting up their stores as well as fulfillment.
For both B2B and B2C, Metaverse will provide a new way to create brand awareness, share their story, increase engagement and drive revenue - covering the entire customer journey in a single space. It will also be an effective way to especially target and connect with Gen Z and Millenials.
More than 70% of B2B buyers are millennials. They are in executive suites, are involved in decision making and prefer digital customer experience.
Imagine being able to have an interactive business meeting or a product demo, making eye contact, seeing facial expressions and sharing the physical space with your customers, just as you would in person, only that you’re not.
Or think about organizing a company wide event, training, a trade show or a fashion show and experiencing the same level of connection, presence and expression as you would have if you were doing it in person, only that all attendees are scattered across the globe.
The pandemic has taught us a lot, we’ve adapted and adopted. We’ve moved to remote work , learnt to collaborate and even conduct business virtually. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. So while the idea of using a photorealistic avatar for B2B client meetings or networking may seem a bit far-fetched today, it’s not entirely fathomable.
Digital advertising? Consumers crave innovative experiences and Metaverse advertising will provide brands a way to deliver on just that - immersive, engaging experiences that aren’t intrusive to the user experience. In-game advertising by the way of virtual billboards, interactive ads, and virtual branding are some of the ways brands such as NASCAR, Chipotle, Hyundai and Gucci are catering to audiences accustomed to the digital realm.
How about measurement? Metaverse will provide a new medium to gather customer data, understand user behavior as well as measure engagement. How long a user interacts with a brand or its products, what are their preferences - without the intrusive pop-up cookie windows can be measured with technologies being used.
What to think about
While the concept is still evolving and there is a lot that is unknown, from what is already known, it’s easy to visualize how Metaverse can be a new frontier that will impact business, sales and marketing for both B2B as well as B2C. If you haven't already dipped your toe in it yet, a prudent strategy might be to perhaps to start thinking about it -
How would you like your brand to be a part of this new digital world?
Do you need a Metaverse team? A strategy perhaps to get in front of new audiences and nurture them for the long run?
How can Metaverse help you achieve your overall business outcomes?
No matter what your vertical, it's bound to be impacted in some way, shape or form.