As the Metaverse continues to evolve and take shape, retail brands and their creative leads, directors, and managers should be embracing early adoption to grab the opportunities this next-level, web3 presents. But as the shapeshifting Metaverse moulds itself into an all-encompassing extended reality, what does success look like for larger brands and how can smaller brands leverage success for themselves without jeopardising their values and purpose or alienating their core audience?
A virtual revolution
Is the Metaverse really the next big thing? While the world’s biggest brands are testing the waters and staking their claim, it’s too early to tell if their efforts will pay off in the long term. But current global investments would suggest they will – eventually.
CEO of venture capital firm, Epyllion, and Metaverse expert, Matthew Ball, is quoted as saying “Even if you have more modest expectations, precedent from the digital economy, the internet, the mobile internet, suggests that [the Metaverse] is a $10-$30 trillion opportunity that will manifest in a decade or a decade and a half.”
Many of the world’s leading brands – including Nike and Gucci, with the interactive multimedia art installation, Gucci Garden, Coca-Cola with virtual goods and non-fungible tokens (or NFTs), and NASCAR among others with virtual digital advertising – are all getting in on the action to get ahead of the game. Even Disney has hired a senior vice president of ‘Next Generation Storytelling’ to help develop how consumers experience Disney’s Metaverse content.
Seeing the opportunities and being energised to commit significant investment to a decentralised Metaverse and its seemingly infinite possibilities, big brands are laying the consumer foundations for an all-new digital revolution that should yield big returns.
Plan your brand entrance
There’s no doubt the Metaverse is a slow burner for even the biggest brands, but its evolution is happening at a rapid rate. While tech is playing catch-up in certain areas, the doors are wide open and every brand is invited to create its own interactive virtual space to reach new audiences, boost brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty for business growth.
But smaller brands are still getting to grips with what the Metaverse is all about – and what it means for them – with the risk/reward ratio coming into sharp focus. While massive opportunities lie ahead for senior brand managers to create engaging, interactive content for their audience, for many the sticking points can be understanding what’s possible, how to get started, and how far they should go.
But as your brand, and the Metaverse, grow, you know you want to be there. So before you commit, you need to know what your brand can offer in the Metaverse, when the time is right to enter, and how it will fit into your overall digital transformation strategy.
So how can brands work with their chosen creative or digital production agency to plan their brand entrance into the Metaverse with a bang but without burning out?
Create your marketing strategy
Don’t take Nike’s inspirational ‘Just Do It’ strapline literally when it comes to the Metaverse. Going in too soon or without a strategic plan is likely to cause embarrassment or at worst, failure. And just as your current marketing strategy will allow for social media marketing, now’s the time to include Metaverse marketing too.
But you’re not limited to traditional marketing channels and one area where the Metaverse is already excelling is in its cross-channel capabilities. The Metaverse already consists of platforms covering online and physical, private and public, and open and closed networks. This allows you to connect with your audience using popular platforms including HyperVerse, Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Roblox.
Even if you don’t intend to use the Metaverse for any focused marketing efforts, as a purely data-driven platform, the Metaverse will supply you with user engagement and retention data that will be like gold dust for your growth.
With a solid Metaverse strategy behind you, an experienced digital production agency like We Are Amnet will help you optimise your entrance. Here are a few things to look into at the start of your journey and beyond.
1. AR/VR integration
Many brands currently exploring the Metaverse are looking to ease their transition with content types that are still relatively new, but not unknown. Augmented Reality (AR) is already being used by brands like Dulux, Apple, and IKEA and it’s a great starting point in your Metaverse marketing strategy.
Though not immersive, by overlaying your own digital content onto the real world, either as images, sound, or text – or all three, AR lets people experience and interact with your brand by seeing additional information on their smartphones and devices. Examples of this include interactive directions, information, wayfinding, or exclusive content, but AR has plenty of scope for any commercial or educational use.
Adding AR functionality to your existing website makes the process easy, intuitive, and helpful for your customers without having to download an app to access your AR features. And it’s a cost-effective entry point for you too.
2. Go immersive with v-commerce
Following your AR introduction, your next step could be to take your successful e-commerce store and upgrade it to an interactive virtual commerce (v-commerce) store. This gives your customers the chance to explore and chat with friends or other customers before buying virtual items on offer and wearing them in the Metaverse.
Hugely popular with footwear, fashion, tech, and automotive brands, as well as being relevant to any online retailer, a v-commerce store lets loyal customers enjoy a range of physical and digital products as a fully branded, customised, and personalised digital experience. V-commerce will help your customers bridge the gap between in-person and online shopping.
3. Offer digital assets
Taking your v-commerce store one step further, offering VIP digital assets has the potential to boost your brand as well as your bottom line. And Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are an innovative way for your customers to engage and interact with your brand like never before.
NFTs are a digital representation of any asset, digital or physical, that can be bought, sold, or traded to give anyone exclusive ownership rights. By selling NFTs that offer VIP access to any new product launch or event, it’s not only an excellent strategy for creating a buzz, but it will help strengthen your bond with an already loyal customer base.
4. Build your community
The social side of the Metaverse is just as vital as the commercial side, and so presents a valuable opportunity for your brand. By building up a loyal brand following through your social media channels over the years, your customers, fans, and advocates can all ‘get involved’. But the Metaverse lets you take it further.
Creating community-driven spaces can encourage like-minded fans and users of your brand to come together to interact and collaborate in their own open, virtual world. In these communities, brand fans create a virtual avatar and do as they please, from connecting with others or using cryptocurrency to trade or sell NFTs to cyberdating.
But creating spaces that relate directly to your brand can also help you build meaningful communities and stay accessible to your customers, such as hosting special events, launch parties, or creating a hangout space for conferences. Your brand also has the potential to develop even more immersive community experiences where your customers can be more directly involved with your offering.
Entering the Metaverse naturally brings its challenges and there are plenty of grey areas to consider in the short and long term.
Personal data is a big issue online and even more so in the Metaverse. In such a new environment, you should ensure your user’s data is safely protected as any breach can damage your reputation. Likewise, cryptocurrencies and the security surrounding any money users have built up are still met with some scepticism. Ensuring the reliability and trustworthiness of your chosen digital currency and its security is key to customer confidence.
And it’s wise to remember your customer’s wellbeing. While being engaged and spending time and money in your area of the Metaverse is welcome, reminding them to take a break from time to time to enjoy the real world is crucial.
Enter the Metaverse with We Are Amnet
What we’ve talked about here barely scratches the surface of what the Metaverse can do for your brand’s success. With a whole new world of opportunity waiting to be explored, there’s no reason why your brand shouldn’t boldly go forward to build success – whatever that metric looks like for you.
So, whether you’re looking to crack open the door to the Metaverse and its opportunities, or are ready to make the leap and be part of this brave new world, talk to We Are Amnet today.
As a global creative production studio, our experience, reach, and extensive Smartshoring® model make We Are Amnet the perfect partner to help you stay ahead of your competitors. We can help support your expansion into the Metaverse with our digital production teams, ensuring you have the talent you need for your ambitions.