Maybe you are not involved in gaming and do not use virtual reality, and thus you think that the Metaverse is irrelevant for your business. Should you dismiss it completely? Maybe not. After all, most if not all of the major trends impact businesses sooner or later. It is already a necessity for companies to have a well thought digital strategy and to look for opportunities to maximize the business’s digital presence. The Metaverse could be one of these opportunities today.
By Dr. Valentina Clergue
Brand image: New opportunities
The Metaverse is a virtual immersive environment where people can interact, play and buy. It incorporates virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive video. Although the Metaverse is a concept that is still difficult to define precisely, it will provide a major shift in the way we make use of and interact with technology.
While some brands such as Gucci, Nike and Disney have already entered this new world, others are probably wondering whether they should take part in it and how to do it. Here are some of the opportunities the Metaverse provides for brands:
Promote – If your brand is on the Metaverse (especially if you are one of the first ones to be there), your name will be known worldwide and you will be able to reach a much wider audience. People will be discussing their experiences with your brand, while businesses will be discussing your strategy on the Metaverse which can help you gain visibility. In addition, you can offer virtual advertising in the Metaverse; since advertising in the Metaverse is new, the prices to run a campaign are still low.
Connect – If your brand wants to connect with younger consumers, then you should consider being on the Metaverse. The gaming platform Roblox has currently 43.2 million daily active users, 67% of which are under 16 (Dean, 2022). As this virtual environment is highly interactive and you can offer an experience, you can connect better to and build long-term relationships with your target audience.
Engage – One of the most immediate opportunities for brands is to create immersive and interactive experiences in the Metaverse and thus engage with people. This could be by organizing virtual concerts, interviews with celebrities, different games, etc. In addition, you can use the Metaverse for user-generated content. This co-creating is not only appreciated by users who feel involved with the brand but it also gives you the understanding of how your products are used by your consumers.
Sell – As people spend more time online, they start valuing digital assets more and more. Not surprisingly, individuals are ready to pay important amounts for virtual possessions. With NFTs and cryptocurrencies, it is easy to spend money on the Metaverse. Fashion clothing and accessories are now purchased online and just as in the physical world, these virtual objects signal user values and personality. Therefore, brands that offer assets or items to buy on the Metaverse, could actually make money from that.
Brand strategy: The four questions
If you are still unsure whether your brand should be on the Metaverse and how to navigate best this new virtual world, here are four questions you may want to consider:
1. Is your primary audience on the Metaverse?
A recent report by Gartner (2022) forecast that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse by 2026. If the Metaverse is where consumers are spending their time and are engaging with brands, that is where businesses have to be. If you are targeting the younger demographics in particular, you will probably need to get acquainted with the Metaverse sooner rather than later
2. What is the long-term strategy and goal you want to achieve?
As with some of the other platforms that have recently become trendy, being on the Metaverse just to be “cool” or to try out new things will not be likely bring success. Without a long-term strategy and very specific goal (raising brand awareness by creating an NFT with your logo for example), it will be difficult to find specific opportunities.
3. How can you enrich the customer experience?
Individuals on the Metaverse are there to socialize, play and have fun. Thus, positioning the brand and the products in this virtual space should be different. Instead of aggressively advertising the company’s offerings, brands should provide opportunities for interactions and memorable experiences (for example, brands are already creating virtual venues, worlds and spaces to host different events such as concerts, exhibitions and live music shows).
4. How can you can enhance brand exposure?
If you have your logo on an item that your avatar is carrying while visiting different experiences on the platform, other users are very likely to see the logo too. If other avatars carry your logo, that would create even more visibility for your brand. What about hosting virtual concerts or sponsoring virtual events? In the physical world, marketers have multiple opportunities to increase brand visibility and many of them could be used in the Metaverse too.
Interactive experience creating opportunities for the Hospitality industry
Hospitality brands just as consumer-goods brands should consider the opportunities provided by the Metaverse. Many of the travelers and hospitality brand consumers are tech-savvy and would appreciate the immersive digital experience that the Metaverse offers. Below are two of the most immediate opportunities for hospitality brands:
Experiencing the hotel or restaurant before booking in the real world: Hotels can provide virtual reality tours or options to explore their hotel with an avatar during the booking process. Restaurants too can provide the possibility of checking the menu, the facilities or even placing an order. Thus, in contrast to virtual tours where as a guest you can look around, in the Metaverse you will be in the virtual world and you can interact with other guests and staff. Such an immersion will redefine the entire guest experience.
Building versions of your property: Hotels and restaurants have the possibility to create meta versions of their brand, allowing people and their avatars to book a stay, have dinner, organize virtual celebrations or even business conferences. This opportunity will allow interacting, working or celebrating while being miles apart in reality.
As guest satisfaction is the main goal for hospitality actors, using the Metaverse to provide an immersive interactive experience could be a great opportunity. The impact will probably not be immediate and success will require time, but not being part of this new virtual environment will be a missed opportunity.
Everything is possible!
There are still many questions without answers regarding the ways to build a successful brand strategy in the Metaverse. Many of these questions can only be answered when we start experimenting ourselves. The reassuring thing is that no one is really a Metaverse expert as we are still in the very early days of its evolution. Thus, whether you want to be pioneer in the rapidly developing digital world or you are looking for opportunities to escape the limitations of the physical environment, you should probably consider the Metaverse. Since nothing is sure for the moment, everything is possible.