In part 1 of this article, I outlined what Metaverse is, at a high level. In this part, I will focus on what it means for marketers and how they go about navigating this new dimension. I will give a few examples to make it more tangible. If you want me to dive in to any of the areas deeper, I will be happy to cover them in subsequent articles. I will also get several leading experts on Metaverse to the Quantum Marketing Sense LinkedIn Live sessions, to complement the Quantum Marketing Sense newsletter.
So, let’s dive in… Let’s start with the basic aspect of what Marketing is about. Marketing is fundamentally about connecting, communicating, engaging and inspiring people. And convincing them to prefer your brand over others. To do this, you need to go to people where they are. When consumers were in front of the TV screens, we showed up there. When they moved to the internet, we reached them through that medium. Now, if consumers start spending time in virtual worlds, we need to be present there too. Every medium requires adaptation of the concepts, to be most relevant and native to those environments. For example, you can’t just take the ads you do in the current digital environment and slap them into the Metaverse. Your presence needs to be really native to the environment and be contextually relevant and appropriate to the audience.
A number of companies have been venturing into the Metaverse and there is a lot to observe and learn from them. You need to come up with your own playbook for your brand/company.
THE METAVERSE IS ALREADY HERE
The way I think about how marketing can play in the Metaverse is by looking at what we do today in the real world and then imagining how that can be adapted to and advanced into the Metaverse. The huge difference between our current reality and Metaverse is that there are no constraints in the latter – either physical or logical, that we have to deal with today in the physical world. That is very liberating in so many ways and can unleash creativity to a completely different level! Another big difference is that in the real world, while we can do real multisensory marketing, in the Metaverse, you are dealing with only the visual and audio senses, and some level of haptic. Interestingly, I find that testing and launching concepts in the Metaverse is much more economical and the speed to market can be blazing!
Let’s look at various areas of marketing and how they can be deployed in the Metaverse:
- Consumer Insights: Can we do focus groups in Metaverse? Yes, I have been in one and it was pretty interesting, albeit a bit clunky at times. But, technology will improve and smoothen the experience. Can we follow the consumer journey (with their permission) and gain insights into their thinking? Yes. There are algorithms coming up that help you do exactly that, particularly when the consumers are visiting your lounge or mall or arena in the Metaverse.
- Advertising: Many brands are already advertising in the metaverse, including high end brands like Louis Vuitton. There are examples from simple, stationery and moving ads on virtual billboards, to naming rights of virtual malls and stadia. There are brand logos showing up on virtual clothing and accessories (for avatars) and sponsorships of virtual characters, with branded skins. Balenciaga, for example, has an interesting integration of their branded accessories into Fortnite.
- Product Demos: Some hotel chains are allowing potential guests to virtually tour available hotel rooms and explore the views. By providing consumers with an immersive experience, you get them excited and also let them know exactly what to expect once they arrive. Likewise, brands are coming up with demos of how certain physical products can be assembled, see them working and give consumers a ‘feel’ for those products. IKEA has been using AR to drop furniture from their catalogue into your physical space and how your room looks with that furniture. Now, this concept can be extended dramatically, with the Metaverse advances.
- Sales: Brands like Nike have begun selling (and selling out!) virtual mechanize / NFTs. (We will talk about NFTs in an upcoming article on Web 3). They also make real world counterparts of these virtual items. They work beautifully, in tandem. The appeal of this space is also extending to the high end fashion brands – Gucci, for example, sold their virtual handbags for around $4000, more than double the real world price for a real Gucci bag of the same model!
- Engagement: Marketers have started off on the path to to consumer engagement in the Metaverse in many ways. Brands like LVMH have treasure hunts and Hyundai has mobility adventures. Live concerts have begun big time, with big names. And they offer sponsorship and engagement opportunities for brands. The scale of these concerts is much bigger, by a big factor, compared to real world events.
- Creating / buying spaces: Several companies have announced that they are going to launch their own Metaverse. Disney is a big name to have made such an announcement. The Atlanta Braves have announced that they will be launching an MLB stadium in the Metaverse. Virtual shopping malls are cropping up. Brands are buying land in Decentraland and creating their own presence. Examples include brands like Adidas. Even B2B brands like PwC bought land in Sandbox!
THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE LIMITLESS
Marketers should also take a look at more speculative ventures, such as the buying and selling of virtual property. This may seem a bit silly to the traditional marketers, but it is currently taking off in much the same way as regular real estate transactions. And if a brand acquires the naming rights for a virtual stadium in the Metaverse, that is attended by millions of consumers, how is that different from having the naming rights for a physical stadium? It’s the same concept, adapted to the new space where consumers are spending time— and that is good marketing.
We are at the verge of an entirely new dynamic. Marketers need to be aware so they can start planning and experimenting.
BROAD ACCEPTANCE IS COMING
As people begin spending more time in various virtual worlds, there will be a significant impact on brands and marketers.
Many will argue that the experience is too clunky at this point in time to drive major change. And that’s probably right. Modern headsets are heavy and can even be nausea-inducing, but the technology is improving rapidly. Tech companies are working on slimmer, more sophisticated, and more manageable interfaces — instead of a massive headset on your face, you can have something light and easy, that allows you to flip back and forth between the physical and virtual reality with the touch of a button (or even without it!). Broad accessibility will come through a multiplicity of devices.
LONG STORY SHORT
We are in the early stages of what will be a tremendous evolution in how we interact with our surroundings each and every day. It’s time that marketers really dive in, understand what possibilities exist, what talent is required, which tech stacks need to be invested in, what regulatory land mines could be ahead etc.
Metaverse is but one part of Web 3. The other areas of Web 3 are fascinating too — like cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and NFTs. They are highly relevant to marketers and I will cover these in more depth in a future article about Web 3.0.