Metaverse for Brands: Brands that are Winning the Game
Today Metaverse brands may be one of the most critical economic subjects. The Metaverse is a growing market of the future. And companies already using their brands in the metaverse are poised for incredible growth. In this article, by studying the following examples, you will see how companies use new technologies to achieve new innovations.
Table of Contents
Brand’s Purpose in the Virtual World
At its core, a brand fulfills two main roles for the consumer. First, it is the stored value of trust, which guarantees the reliability, quality, and conviction of the company. Nike, for example, has a powerful; and trustworthy brand. If your Nike shoes are defective, you trust that brand to stand behind them. The second is self-expression or signaling. The brand communicates to others how they want to be seen.
Centuries ago, people were more often “brands”. John, a local horseshoe maker, was the brand, not a company. Today the world has become more expensive, and brands have taken on this vital role as commerce transcends borders.
However, in the metaverse, it’s unlikely that your digital sneakers are defective, which reinforced the importance of the brand’s self-expression component over anything else.
While there are still elements of trust to consider, such as longevity and value continuity, branding in the metaverse depends on the ability of marketers to bring their brands to life in a certain way in a given environment.
The power of indicating exactly what someone means and who they are when they digitally showcase a brand will grow exponentially. Much like the change in mindset that occurred as marketers moved from catalogs to e-commerce and eventually to commerce anywhere, metaverse branding requires a fundamental shift in their approach.
Brand Activations in the Metaverse
Here are a few examples of brands joining the metaverse.
Gucci’s clothing is not the only part of the brand that keeps up with the times. The luxury fashion house has had several Metaverse activations over the past two years. In early 2021, the brand released the Gucci Virtual 25, a digital sneaker that can be worn in augmented reality or through apps like VRChat and Roblox.
The sneaker release was followed by Gucci Garden on Roblox, where players purchased exclusive designer items such as the Gucci Dionysus Bag with Bee. This bag was resold for over Robux, Roblox’s in-game currency, for over $4,100 more than the value of the actual physical bag. The virtual garden was an addition to a real installation called Gucci Garden Archetypes, located in Florence, Italy.
In June, the brand launched its latest activation of the Gucci Town metaverse. Gucci Town is a permanent space in Roblox where players have an opportunity to learn more about the brand as well as express their style through virtual outfits.
In terms of marketing, Gucci sends a message about their brand: they are trendsetters in every sense of the world. They aren’t afraid to reach out to the audience, experimenting with new ways to satisfy customers in every space they interact with. Gucci is one of many fashion brands that takes advantage of the metaverse. The first virtual fashion week was in early 2022.
Dolce & Gabbana
Along with Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana is one of the fashion brands taking advantage of the metaverse. The fashion brand has partnered with UNXD, the NFT marketplace for digital luxury and culture. In March 2022, Dolce and UNXD announced the long-awaited launch of the DGFamily NFT community.
DGFamily has three digital boxes that are also part of the Dolce & Gabbana NFT universe. Members receive digital, physical, and experiential parks, such as exclusive wearables.
The boxes were sold blind, so buyers didn’t know which box they got until the NFT was minted. Of the 5,000 boxes created, 4,835 were released. There were several high-profile buyers, including Danilo S. Carlucci, CEO and founder of MorningStar Ventures, and Ivan-Soto Wright, CEO and founder of MoonPay.
While the idea of two-dimensional membership and blind buying may seem absurd at first, the online hype is showing clear interest. From January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022, the DGFamily NFT community received 98% positive feedback and over 848,000 interactions on Twitter, according to Sprout’s Advanced Listening tool. Dolce is another example of how the creative industries will take their place in the metaverse.
Blavity was one of the first to implement the metaverse in 2020 after the start of the pandemic, pulling out of the media company’s annual AfroTech professional conference. Instead of canceling the event entirely, the company saw it as an opportunity to address Zoom fatigue and low engagement.
Blavity has partnered with eXp World Holdings to create a fully customized AfroTech World virtual space. AfroTech World featured everything from an in-person conference – prizes, competitions, workshops, guest speakers, performances, and expo halls. The first conference was so successful that the brand decided to continue offering digital experiences. AfroTech 2021 included in-person happy hours and events across several US cities.
Between the 2020 and 2021 conferences, the brand saw a significant increase in attendance and revenue. Not only were people willing to pay more Metaverse tickets, but attendance surpassed the 2019 in-person conference. Approximately 10,000 people attended in 2019 and 15,000 in 2020. Over 16,700 people attended both in-personal and metaverse events. AfroTech 2021 also had more sponsors advertised, so as a result, total sponsorship revenue has increased compared to last year.
Vans is a prime example of using the metaverse to connect with your target audience. The skateboarding clothing brand has created Vans World, a Roblox skatepark where players can learn new tickets, buy gear as well as earn Robux.
One of Van’s main demographics is between the ages of 13 and 35, so his activation of the metaverse is a true masterclass in collaboration. The virtual skatepark has received over 48 million visitors, and the brand generated revenue from the sale of its virtual clothing.
Megan Thee Stallion x AmazeVR
Grammy award winner Megan Thee Stallion has joined forces with AmazeVR for a virtual reality concert tour called Enter Thee Hottieverse. The “hottieverse” is a reference to her fans, whom she calls the “hot girls and boys.” She is a self-proclaimed nerd known for setting trends and milestones in the music industry, so creating a metaverse on her tour is in line with her personal brand.
The VR concert included a half-hour performance by Megan and was played in theaters across the country. The first leg of the tour sold out quickly after being announced in early 2022. Several other musical artists have also dabbled in the metaverse, including Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, who have hosted Fortnite concerts. Earlier this year, Fortnite allowed players to earn Silk Sonic skins (digital clothing).
Coke has merged the metaverse and the physical world in its limited edition Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, inspired by digital space and games. The soda can is pixel-laden, and the graphic forms the shape of the iconic Coca-Cola logo.
Zero Sugar Byte was available exclusively online in the US, but retail sales have been launched in some countries. Another space on Fortnite, Pixel Point, allows players to taste a drink in the metaverse through mini-games. Fans can also scan the Sugar Byte package to access the AR games.
This multi-dimensional beverage is just one of many activations of the beverage brand metaverse. For example, last year, they also offered an NFT collectible.
Brands That Are Betting Huge On The Metaverse
Global revenue opportunities from things like live streaming, advertising, social commerce, and hardware are projected to top $1 trillion, according to JPMorgan, and $800 billion, according to Bloomberg. The market for game and gaming equipment manufacturers alone could exceed $400 billion.
Gaming and entertainment brands, as well as some fashion brands, are leading the way for brands looking to navigate the Metaverse. In the meantime, Google has invested nearly $40 million in a private equity fund for all metaverse projects, and Walmart has filed dozens of metaverse trademark requests since December 2021. And big brands like Meta, Nike, and Disney are creating their own metaverse business units.
Globally, there are already 1 billion active AR users, and by 2024 this number will almost double. What’s more, 56% of influencers say they are currently involved in the metaverse.
According to Harvard Business Review, brands trying to enter the metaverse must first determine their place in it and then balance the risks and rewards of entering the digital environment. Then they must determine if and how much time their target audience spends in the metaverse, and adjust their approach accordingly.
The metaverse could be the next iteration of how we use the internet to connect, communicate, and transact, so it’s also important for brands to stay in test-and-learn mode and stay flexible as they venture into this uncharted territory.
Ahead, you’ll find a roundup of some of the brands that have used the metaverse so far or plan to do so in the near future and how they’ve dealt with some of the considerations raised by HBR.
Autodesk developers have recently begun using their software in order to design and create virtual worlds for entertainment and gaming. It now has several products for rendering 3D animation, constructing virtual buildings, and creating VR and AV landscapes. Revenue from this segment alone was up 10% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2021, further pointing to the possibility that Audodesk could soon become a major contender for metaverse developers
At the Italian fashion brand’s Metaverse real store, digital shoppers will not be buying clothes, but will instead engage in a gaming experience with the ability to accumulate QR codes that can then be used to make purchases at Benetton’s physical stores. According to WWD, the brand’s flagship store in Milan has been transformed into a multimedia experience to tease the look and feel of the store in the metaverse.
Parent company TikTok is in beta testing of its own metaverse referred to as Party Island. Users can create personal avatars, chat in the virtual world, and plan events in the real world. The company spent $1.4 billion to acquire VR headset maker Pico, solidifying its reach into the Metaverse space along with a number of other investments in the metaverse supply chain.
Google began investing in the metaverse with a $39.5 million private equity fund for all metaverse projects. Despite the failure of its augmented reality glasses in 2014, CEO Sundar Pichai has since frequently mentioned the company’s continued interest in AR. It could even make services like Maps and YouTube that are available in the virtual landscape.
Gucci and Roblox
In May 2021, Gucci unveiled Gucci Garden, a two-week art installation aimed at building brand awareness among young shoppers inside Roblox. Upon entering the garden, visitors could view, try on, and purchase Gucci digital products to dress up their blank genderless avatars before exploring the garden-themed rooms.
JPMorgan Chase and Decentraland
The largest bank in the US and the seventh largest bank in the world recently took steps to modernize its brand by designing and launching a lounge in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland called The Onyx. The discovery coincided with the release of the Metaverse Growth Opportunity Report, which states that the metaverse’s market opportunities will exceed $1 trillion in annual revenue. It states that the risk of being left behind is worth the extra investment required to get started” in the race for a place in the metaverse.
Few companies are boldly pushing the future of the metaverse the way Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has done. Mark Zuckerberg shifted the focus of the company almost entirely to the metaverse. He committed an initial $10 billion investment in development, as well as filing for several patents related to technology that uses metaverse users’ biometrics to create what they see in the virtual landscape.The company is going to monetize the metaverse through advertising revenue streams and virtual commerce.
Microsoft aims to expand its dominance in the professional software market by integrating the Internet of Things into the metaverse along with digital twins and mixed reality. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces will allow professionals to recreate and visit their retail stores or factories during virtual meetings to troubleshoot, enhance collaboration, and interact directly with their product spaces.
In addition, the company took a significant step into the social metaverse space in January when it announced it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, giving the company access t0 400 million monthly active players.
Microsoft’s Xbox celebrated its 20th anniversary with a virtual 3D museum where gamers could personalize their own avatar and POV camera to immerse themselves in the history of consoles, games, and the franchise’s infamous bugs.
It’s no secret that the metaverse requires a huge amount of processing power. This is where Nvidia has the upper hand in the metaverse. CEO Jensen Huang said the metaverse could save money and resources by reducing waste by simulating plants, factories, power grids and other infrastructure products before they are built in the real world.
Recently Qualcomm has announced a new collaboration with Microsoft in order to develop new technology that makes it easier for consumers and businesses to adopt AR.
The company’s chief executive mentioned that its Snapdragon semiconductor products, which are already running on a variety of AR and VR devices, most notably Meta’s OCULUS quest, will dominate the Internet of Things and the metaverse’ next generation.
Founded in 2004, the online entertainment platform allows users to develop games has about 47 million daily active users (including about half of America children), 9.5 million developers, its own digital currency, and several unique virtual experiences. The company recently acquired Guilded, a platform designed to bring different gaming communities together.
Selfridges and Pokémon
To mark its 25th anniversary in 2021, Pokémon partnered with Selfridges, designer Charli Cohen, and Yahoo Ryot Lab to build a virtual city called Electric/City where fans could purchase exclusive Pokémon virtual and physical merchandise. Visitors could create their own avatars, dress them up and view them using the body-tracking AR Snapchat Lens, and share them on social media and other virtual platforms.
The Canadian ecommerce company will play a critical role in the monetization of the metaverse. It will be responsible for the digitalization of assets, currencies and the ability to receive money for content creators. In 2021, it took two steps to gain a foothold in the possible commercial aspiration of the metaverse.
First, it purchased the AR app Primer, which will allow users to see firstland the effect of a purchase or project in their space, a powerful tool that will allow subscribers to create the experience of shopping and stores in the metaverse. Also, it touched on the NFT platform, which allows digital image creators, pioneered by the Chicago Bulls, to sell art and other content directly to consumers.
Several other companies are starting to play with the idea of the future Metaverse by filing for trademarks. Brands like Victoria’s Secret, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, and even the now-defunct Blockbuster have filed trademark applications for online retail services with virtual foods, trademarks, product names, and more.
Premier League champions Manchester City are building their iconic home, Etihad Stadium, in the Metaverse with their new partner Sony using Hawk-Eye image analysis technology and Sony subsidiary’s skeletal tracking technology.
Limitations and Opportunities Within the Metaverse
There’s a reason why pioneering science fiction writers like Octavia Butler and Isaac Asimov warned us about the ills of futuristic technology. The metaverse comes with a ton of data, privacy, and security issues.
Any new tech innovation requires additional security measures, but the metaverse will require new methods of privacy and data protection. For example, personal verification may require more user data, which increases privacy risks. Some experts are concerned that the metaverse is being used as the main surveillance tool. And if something happens in the Metaverse, what are the legal implications in the digital and physical worlds?
Along with compatibility and privacy concerns, there are also some hardware limitations. Many virtual and augmented reality glasses/headsets are bulky and still have accessibility issues such as motion sickness. If the hardware is not available, it will be difficult to guarantee everyone’s participation, which defeats the purpose of decentralization.
However, with limitation comes opportunity. Video game and virtual worlds are easier to create and design, and XR wearables are available at different price points (so they are getting more affordable). By 2024, there will be approximately 1.7 billion augmented reality user devices worldwide.
In a study by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, 54% of experts said by 2040, the metaverse will become a more refined, immersive, and well-functioning part of everyday life for half a billion people worldwide.
How Significant Can the Metaverse Be for Brands?
Why are existing companies so interested in becoming the brands of the metaverse? One of the most important reasons is that the metaverse can essentially act like a replica of the real world. It is possible to replicate products from offline stores for users anywhere in the world. This instantly blurs the geographic boundaries for potential sales.
Customers have the opportunity to try out digital items and see them in a fully 3D world. The social element of the Metaverse means that friends are able to come along to impress the new look. Some companies benefit by linking their online and offline marketplace together. Other companies may benefit by creating an entirely new type of store. These are exclusive digital offers. And all this can be tied together with digital wallets in the metaverse that make it easy to buy and sell goods. It’s easy to see the commercial appeal of the metaverse.
How Will the Metaverse Affect Brands in Retail?
The metaverse may not be known to most people, but that hasn’t stopped brands from getting ahead of this technological paradigm shift. The type of B2C interaction that the metaverse will allow is already happening with Bitmojis (personalized emoji avatars) on Snapchat. Levis and Ralph Lauren are two brands that have released a line in virtual clothing for Bitmojis that people can purchase in real life. In the future, Bitmoji from Snapchat is predicted to also integrate with virtual and augmented reality try-ons.
Another example is AR filters available on different platforms. Popular Studio has released augmented reality filters that overlay the physical world for top international brands. These filters can be developed anywhere, including the metaverse.
For brands. selling avatar products is a great business opportunity. For example, Gucci has sold a digital Gucci Dionysus Bag on Roblox (an online gaming platform that is in the process of building a metaverse where users can play games, attend meetings, collaborate, and shop) during their virtual Gucci Garden experience for 4,115m more that the cost of a physical bag.
In the future, users may not even have to create these avatars themselves. Instead, a physical retail store may have volumetric cameras that can capture the customer and create a very realistic avatar of the customer. Customers will then be able to use these avatars, which will have accurate measurements, to try on clothes and other items from the comfort of their homes.
Of course, brands’ ultimate goal will be to create their own metaverse. Earlier this year, Japanese cosmetics company SK-II created SK-II CITY, modeled on Tokyo, to allow people to explore digitally and experience the brand.
Similarly, the sneaker app Aglet has created a “sneakerverse”, a metaverse that brings together sneakers, games, and shopping. Interestingly, the Aglet 1, the platform’s virtual sneaker, has been so popular with gamers that the company is now about to start producing them in real life. Aglet’s CEO, Ryan David Mullins, noted that creating products in a virtual environment, first and foremost, allows brands to be more sustainable and attract new audiences.
Why Should Brands Care about the Metaverse?
- It is a fast-developing marketplace with huge potential.
The metaverse is projected to be $800 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 13.1% from 2020.
- And huge revenue opportunities.
The metaverse market in the US alone could reach $8.3 trillion in total consumer spending.
- Consumers are already on board.
Today, 74% of adults agree that they will join the metaverse, which is about 4.4 million people.
- And they are willing to spend money.
75% of Gen Z shoppers have purchased a digital product in a video game, with 60% saying brands should also sell their merchandise on Metaverse platforms.
- People are looking for the best online experiences.
The single main reason people say they will use the metaverse is to “experience things they can’t in physical reality”.
- And they believe brands should join them.
85% of consumers say brands need to have a digital presence to be successful in the future.
(Source: Wunderman Thompson)
- In fact, they believe it’s critical for companies to think digitally.
81% claim that a brand’s digital presence is just as important as its in-store presence.
(Source: Wunderman Thompson)
- Fortunately, most brands are on the same wavelength.
Over 50% of brands have already started their metaverse strategy. Here is a poll on whether their organization has a strategy for the metaverse.
– Yes (24%)
– Working on it (32%)
– Expectant tactics (18%)
– Still unsure about relevance (26%)
- And they are ready to go.
Nearly one in three global businesses will have services and products in the metaverse by 2026.
Future Consumer and Brand Advantages in the Metaverse
- Real-Time Customer Support. Imagine customer service avatars, both real and AI-driven, answering customer questions instantly in real time. This is the most advanced customer support system.
- Create stronger emotional relationships. Shopping is an intuitive experience that connects consumers with their favorite brands. eCommerce tends to be transactional and less about the experience. With the Metaverse, you have a chance to build new and lasting relationships with your customers.
- Interactive vs. Passive Content. Only 3% of the content on the web is “interactive”, which means everything else is passive browsing (photos, videos, infinite scrolling). Interactive content allows you to explore and discover yourself. That’s what the future of the internet looks like.
- Re-merchandise the entire stock in one click. Instead of designing your store in CAD, creating a physical “demo” store, testing it, and then building it, you simply click “publish” and your entire virtual storefront is instantly configured. You’ll also get instant feedback on your new projects so you can make adjustments in real-time.
- Unlimited Aisle Shopping. With the Metaverse, you have an opportunity to think outside the box and include products you never thought possible to sell online. Any product you can imagine can be made into a virtual experience.
- Social eCommerce. Shopping alone is fine, but shopping with friends is magical. What happens when your friends are all over the world? Share any Metaverse experience with your friends as avatars and have fun searching for new products together
- Increase brand awareness. Brands that use XR and Metaverse technologies are considered “innovative”, “visionary,” and “cool” in the world. What does your brand mean to consumers?
- Let customers “try” before they purchase with a 3D product preview. From virtual trying on cosmetics, glasses and jewelry to viewing products in your home or office, 3D product displays give you a deeper understanding of your products in the eyes of consumers.
- Display additional information about the displayed products. Why only show product photos from the outside if your secret is hidden under the hood? Take consumers on a journey through your product from the galactic scale to the molecular level; you can do anything…this is the Metaverse!
- Visualize product catalogs. Using virtual photo shoots saves money, creates endless possibilities, allows you to instantly re-shoot any product without preparing the entire photoshoot.
- No display write-offs. Physical displays cost real money, and once created, they cannot be easily edited or modified. With digital displays, you can instantly make an unlimited number of changes with zero losses.
- One-to-many personalized service at scale. With the advent of AI and avatars, you will be able to provide personalized services in a one-to-many model that is perceived by the consumer as one-to-one. This is the highest quality of customer service on a global scale.
- Real-time Analytics changes the game. By getting real-time analytics and applying them to holistic consumer insights generated across all your omnichannel operations, you can move closer to the brand panacea of timely, hyper-personalized global retail sales with limitless possibilities.
- Virtual Reality for Sales. The Oculus Quest 2 is a standalone device with very good visual performance, spatial audio, and excellent hand tracking for a remarkable price of $299. The headset is capable of supporting compelling enterprise apps for product demonstrations or virtual showrooms. The Quest 2 headset can be shipped to a customer for less than the cost of a salesperson’s visit and used to showcase the product in a much more compelling way than a typical video or slideshow.
The Future of Metaverse Marketing
According to Mark Zuckerberg, teleporting across the metaverse will be like clicking a link on the internet. In order to unlock the potential of the metaverse, there must be interoperability, and digital goods should be available for purchase and portable. When you buy or create something, your items will be useful in many contexts, and you will not be tied to one world or platform.
Zuckerberg aggressively promotes this vision of the metaverse. While this remains to be seen, we may soon see avatars, the money you have in your metaverse wallets, and items moving from one platform to another. Due to the decentralized nature of the metaverse, those who build first will determine the future of the virtual business. You will be left far behind if you wait for your competitors to realize Zuckerberg’s vision. Instead, seize the opportunity to connect e-commerce with your metaverse brand today.
In a sense, the metaverse is a mixture of culture, art, fashion, entertainment, and technology. It offers brands a unique opportunity to reach new customers and build loyalty among their existing customer base. By taking the time to understand the metaverse, brands can position themselves to take advantage of this new frontier.
With these considerations in mind, marketers are able to build a branding strategy that connects more closely with customers and fulfills their desire for value, community, and experiences in the metaverse.