How Brands Can Shape the Metaverse to their Advantage
By now, you have probably heard something about the metaverse. Maybe you’ve heard it referred to as “the new internet”. Maybe you’ve read the book or seen the film “Ready Player One”, and heard that the metaverse is just like the all-consuming virtual game in that fictional work. The reality lies somewhere in the middle. Whatever you may or may or not have heard, that’s undoubtedly true is that the metaverse is here to change our world.
Today’s consensus metaverse definition is something like “the convergence of physical and virtual realities”. The metaverse promises a less stark divide between these two realms, a blurring of the lines. In a ubiquitous metaverse, there won’t be much of a difference between what we do (and where we do it) in our “real” and “virtual” lives.
Crypto technology, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or platforms like Epic’s Fortnite are current and growing manifestations of the kind of interactions and experiences the idea of the metaverse brings. The metaverse at its zenith is an idea, a concept, an aspiration. But it’s no longer a dream.
The following chapters will try to answer the many “up in the air” questions about the metaverse, especially its inevitable and exciting implications for brands.
Chapter 1 — Today, Brands Can Shape the Metaverse to Their Advantage
What’s exciting and encouraging about the metaverse is that nothing about it is completely set in stone. The metaverse presents a potentially major opportunity for brands, but only if brands make sure to prioritize consumers and their experiences over everything else.
Not surprisingly, having a say in what the metaverse will look like (and the way consumers and brands might engage with it) is the new crusade for major tech players like Facebook (who renamed their parent company Meta, in case you’re wondering how serious Zuckerberg and Co. are taking this), Adobe, Apple, etc. While there are still so many questions about what the metaverse will ultimately turn into, it’s a place brands have the opportunity to start acting and interacting with consumers with this inevitable future in mind.
But this won’t be an easy challenge. In order to succeed authentically in the metaverse, many brands will have to leave their usual marketing strategies and patterns behind. Brands must forget about intercepting. Perhaps more than they have on any other platform to date, consumers in the metaverse will demand immersive experiences where brand integrations will need to do something more than show up. Brands will have to have have a real-time live presence with a meaningful impact, where they’re offering the consumer something of value in an authentic, non-invasive way.
This comes with some risk, but also potentially high reward. Because of that, the blank canvas that is the metaverse—and the many crowded platforms that are embracing its concept—gives both brands and creators the opportunity to innovate with experiences and content that has previously felt beyond their scope. And these advantages can be used to a brand’s advantage, no matter their unique business goals.
Here are some ways brands can utilize the early days of the metaverse to crease new growth opportunities:
Reach new audiences and revitalize brand perceptions
In today’s highly-fragmented media landscape, brands often struggle to reach and connect with certain audiences. For instance, many of them try to efficiently make an impact on younger generations. The metaverse presents a great opportunity for these brands, as many metaverse-based platforms are dominated by younger audiences. Roblox Games, a massive user-created gaming platform, has over 42.1 million daily active users—and a whopping two thirds of them are under the age of 16. By effectively and authentically becoming a part of the metaverse, brands can execute strategies to not only become noticed by younger audiences, but to change the perception of their brand among this much-valued cohort.
Create long-lasting relationships with consumers and build community
The audiences that are engaged in metaverse-based platforms are among the most loyal and passionate of audiences of any. Thus, in order for brands to succeed in their metaverse efforts, they need to bring something meaningful to the user or their experience. if they do so consistently and in an authentic way, brands can generate a fruitful and lasting relationship.
So how can brands do this, specifically, in the metaverse? It may vary from experience to experience, so a brand can’t expect to just jump into a single game or platform and expect to succeed. Brands need to take time to immerse themselves in each platform, learning the language, lingo, and culture within. If they do, brands can begin to provide consumers value by collaborating with them, empowering them, becoming patrons, rewarding them, or developing rich 1-to-1 encounters that connect the user to the brand—all while not intruding on the user’s unique and personal experience
For years, Stella Artois has been the official sponsor of premium horse racing tracks such as Ascot. But now, it’s taken this same idea to the metaverse with a deal to sponsor Zed Run, the blockchain-based online horse racing platform. Some brands, like Stella Artois in this case, can use previous sports/gaming involvement to instantly bring credibility to their entry into the metaverse. For other brands, entering these areas will be completely new. Whether its growing an existing audience or starting a new relationship, every brand will have an opportunity to foster long-lasting relationships in the metaverse.
Create Narratives that Build Distinctiveness
Standing out is never easy, and it’s become even more difficult recently in our world of media abundance. The metaverse, however, can be a dreamland for those who need to differentiate or stand out in their category. Options are endless, and the brands that think and act the most creatively will find themselves earning the attention and admiration of consumers in the metaverse. The metaverse gives brands the opportunity to create new brand narratives and original virtual worlds and characters. Or, brands can opt to leverage and bring to life their already-recognizable distinctive assets.
Fashion brands have found a home in gaming worlds recently, and as metaverse-based platforms continue to grow, so should these opportunities. Balenciaga, for example, has found success on popular game Fortnite, utilizing the vast virtual world to drop new looks.
Coming up in Chapter 2...
In the next chapter, we will dive into the key technologies that will nurture the metaverse and will keep blurring the line between our digital and real life. We will explore questions like, what does Blockchain mean for brands? How could brands benefit from having a digital wallet? And, what’s their role in the NFTs fever?