What The Metaverse Means For Brands in 2022 And Beyond
Ah, the metaverse. This virtual world populated by crypto nerds and geeks staring at a screen in the corner of their dark bedrooms. It’s more than what it seems. And it’s not just a passing fad, either.
The metaverse has multiple implications for brands wanting to stand out and connect with consumers. Here’s how they can take the lead and win in this brave new world.
Quick Summary: What Is the Metaverse?
Simply put, the metaverse is a virtual world where users can interact with each other and the environment around them. They embrace digital identities via avatars and can even immerse themselves via Virtual Reality (VR).
The term isn’t new. It was coined in a sci-fi book by Neal Stephenson, back in 1992.
What’s new is how fast reality is catching up to what was once science fiction.
Think “Ready Player One” meets “The Matrix”. It’s in the making as I write this.
Popular metaverse plays include Decentraland, CryptoVoxels, and Upland. Games like Fortnite and Minecraft are only destinations within the metaverse. The metaverse is the virtual universe that patches all these spaces together in one giant index where users can travel freely.
To understand the metaverse, you first need to understand blockchain.
A blockchain is a permanent ledger, that records every transaction and proves the ownership of digital assets on a network. From blockchain flows the rest.
Draw a big, wide circle. That big circle is blockchain technology.
Inside that circle are other, smaller circles.
One is cryptocurrencies that live on blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Within that circle, you have Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) that are traded with cryptocurrencies.
Now the metaverse is sort of the box that sits outside of all these circles, and encompasses them all.
That means users in the metaverse can spend crypto money. They can buy and sell items like pieces of clothing and collectibles. They can trade NFTs, a form of digital artwork, some of which unlock unique rewards.
This creates a whole economy within this virtual ecosystem, where money pays for digital goods and services.
In 2019, users of the popular metaverse game Roblox cleared $110 million from such activity. You could even operate an entire business right from the metaverse.
Now put on some VR headsets, and you get a fully immersive experience that does all the above.
It takes some time to wrap your head around. You may think this only applies to nerds who like to hide behind virtual identities and escape reality. Stick with me here.
The potential for brands is huge. Here’s what it could look like.
Three Ways Brands Can Leverage the Metaverse
The metaverse is a space with many possibilities for users. They can:
- Hang out and make connections.
- Trade digital objects and artwork with peers.
- Attend art galleries and other virtual events.
- Interact with artwork and multi-sensory experiences: for instance, move a digital painting that triggers music based on the user’s movements.
- Host their own exhibitions to raise funds or sell items.
- Create their own physical spaces, custom avatars and games, and monetize those.
- Unlock unique experiences by wearing a specific item.
- Host a party in their virtual homes and have friends over.
- Carry one digital identity across multiple virtual ecosystems.
Brands can interact with consumers in a space that enables all the above.
With the immersive, visual nature of the metaverse, the opportunities are mind-blowing.
1) Share content with Gen Z consumers
Brands can advertise their products and services inside the metaverse. They can also build awareness amongst younger segments of the population.
A brand could have its own mascot that goes around the metaverse and interacts with users. It could put out its own branded games, or a clothing line for users to wear inside the virtual space.
With creation tools that require no tech skills, it will become super-easy to create and upload content on the metaverse.
De Witte, CEO of a gaming platform, says:
“Creating an experience for the metaverse is eventually going to be like creating a YouTube video.”
The metaverse could become the next-gen YouTube for brands.
2) Engage and reward existing consumers
The metaverse could unlock the next-level loyalty scheme, too.
Real-world loyalty cards are dead. Today’s consumers don’t want to collect points on a plastic card.
Why not reward selected users, for example via:
- VIP access to branded events (like this Travis Scott Fortnite concert, attended by 12 million users).
- Early access to digital or physical merchandise.
- Giveaways of digital goods.
As Jon Vlassopulos, VP at Roblox, put it:
“We’ll increasingly see the metaverse play host to massive, immersive, virtual events, pioneering new forms of live, participatory entertainment.”
The only limit is creativity at this point.
3) Monetize digital assets
Brands can simply sell virtual items on the metaverse.
This could be in the form of NFTs. Big consumer brands like Taco Bells, Gucci, and Coca-Cola have already tested the waters.
Coke nailed this one. They launched a loot box packed with four NFTs, including a “Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable”.
The owner can re-sell the jacket later for profit, and wear it in Decentraliand for social status.
On top of this, the winner of the loot box will receive surprise items from the company. Along with a fully-stocked retro Coke fridge to enjoy with friends and family.
This will become a textbook example of how brands can bridge the physical and virtual worlds to delight consumers in unique ways.
The combination of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and virtual reality is creating new digital economies.
Both individuals and brands will create content and experiences in the metaverse, and generate sizeable revenue from them.
Who will be the pioneers of the branded metaverse?
Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed Facebook would evolve into a “metaverse company” before the re-branding to Meta, Coke’s CEO talked of an enterprise version, and luxury brands like Gucci are getting in on the action.
The metaverse is a network of communities, a distribution channel, and a marketing platform that unlocks consumer rewards like never before.
It’s the perfect place to engage younger tech-savvy demographics, sell digital goods, and stand out as a forward-thinking brand. Recent studies have found that only nine percent of Gen Z’ers wanted to stay on social media. They’re tired of saturated platforms; they wanted quality interactions and curated experiences.
The metaverse could be the next social media. One to watch!