What role does the metaverse play for marketers and brand strategists? For one thing, there is already a clear transition of real-world commerce to the metaverse, with brands such as Nike, Vans, Gucci, and Balenciaga (to name a few) establishing digital presences.
Digital fashion has progressed from a niche to a burgeoning industry. As technology and knowledge advance, so does data-driven understanding of what people want to buy and wear virtually. Even old-school companies like PwC and Budweiser are metaverse heavy these days.
And why not?
When viewed optimistically, the metaverse provides an opportunity for rebranding. Because of its experiential and immersive nature, the metaverse presents a new opportunity for brands to connect with consumers. While it is hard to find light at the end of the Covid tunnel perhaps the metaverse is only accelerating a trend towards innovation that was long overdue.
So how can brands reinvent themselves for this brave new world? Here are three quick examples:
1.Tell a story to minimize metaverse fears
We want to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. This is due to the fact that our brains recognize patterns in our surroundings and assign them meaning. To put it another way, we have a narrative bias. It makes us feel more in control, allows us to better predict the behavior of others, and allows us to plan ahead, all of which are necessary for us to live happy, productive lives.
Brand strategists can capitalize on this proclivity for narrative creation. The majority of consumers in the metaverse will be newcomers. ‘Stories’ will help ease consumers’ metaverse apprehension by providing an overarching continuity between the two worlds, solidifying your brand image in both worlds.
Not only that, but because of the anchoring effect (where we tend to rely a little too heavily on the first piece of information presented to us when making subsequent decisions), if your brand’s first metaversal move makes consumers feel more at ease, they’ll remember (and act on) it for a long time.
Stella Artois’ collaboration with Zed Run, a digital horse racing platform, is a prime example of parallel marketing. The beer behemoth is well-known for its sponsorship of real-world sporting events, particularly horse races. NFT horses that can be bred, raced, and traded appear to be a natural metaverse entry point. It’s new, but not too new, and it strengthens consumers’ brand associations with Stella Artois.
2. Give away digital gear to make your customers feel special
In the real world, we like to stand out, and the metaverse is no exception. In the gaming industry, this desire is well documented. While Fortnite Battle Royale is free, the average player spends $84.67, with nearly 60% of that going toward character outfits or the characters themselves.
This desire for individuality is an innate human motivation. We like to feel special and distinct from those around us, and this feeling persists even when we and others are digital avatars.
This will be aided by successful metaverse branding. Limited edition product launches, exclusive event access tokens, and one-of-a-kind collectibles that can be displayed to other avatars (e.g., by wearing them) are all ways for consumers to establish a distinct social identity in the metaverse. They will feel appreciated. And when we are made to feel special, we return for more.
For example, “The Collectors’ Room” in Roblox’s Gucci Garden Experience allows users to collect limited-edition, digital Gucci items that exist only in that metaverse. Gucci made over $3.5 million from their initial sales figures (selling things that are literally not real). This is the power of extraterrestrial exclusivity.
3. Delight your customers with unique experiences
The metaverse’s all-or-nothing structural make-up is the most exciting aspect of it. Even the sky is not the limit. There will be no more time or space constraints. This is a perpetually turned-on world that can be built from the ground up to match any brand’s wildest dreams. If you use it correctly, you’ll have struck gold.
Concerns about feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and scalability limit traditional marketing strategies. In the metaverse, these are largely irrelevant.
Consider going shopping for clothes. For both brands and consumers, the traditional shopping experience is time-consuming: incorrect sizing; endless trips to fitting rooms; dead stock; wasteful turnover; refund/return headaches; limited audience reach. It’s out of date, exhausting, and, perhaps most importantly, a pain for everyone involved. We didn’t even mention rising fuel costs and traffic.
This contradicts the emotions that are required to drive consumer behavior in the first place. To lead the kind of consumer behavior brands want, we need consistent novelty (and excitement) combined with diversity of choice and the sense of control it brings.
Businesses that want to make a big impression in the metaverse should consider the example set forth by Dimension Studio. When you enter their physical studio space, you are volumetrically scanned by 106 cameras, which results in a realistic digital human version of you. Pretty cool, right?
Try on whatever you want, in any size, as many times as you want, with the click of a button and in a fraction of the time it would take you in-store. No waiting for a sales clerk or lines to try things on? Check.
It appears to be effective for them. Dimension Studio’s revenue more than doubled to $6.5 million in 2020-2021. You can be sure that other businesses are taking note.