Metaverse Marketing Can Make for Magical Moments
When Facebook transformed into Meta last year, it increased attention on the next iteration of the internet, with brands from Disney and Coca-Cola to Gucci and Louis Vuitton establishing their places in the digital world. It has so much buzz that some analyst firms estimate spending on the metaverse will exceed $750 billion in the next five years. But, what is the metaverse, exactly, and what are its implications for brands in terms of customer engagement?
For the uninitiated, the metaverse is essentially a 3D upgrade to the internet that offers immersive digital experiences via augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and interactive video. Anything you can do in real life, you will (theoretically) be able to do in the metaverse. Want to try on a new outfit? You can do it in the metaverse. Want to play a game? You can do it in the metaverse. Need to contact customer service? Yep, you’ll be able to do that in the metaverse, too.
For marketers, the metaverse represents a new channel in which brands can connect with consumers. Because it is still early days for this digital world, brands that move decisively can get a jump on their competition. But, like any technology or channel, there is potential damage that can be done. Without understanding the metaverse, and its advantages and disadvantages, brands can misstep. Here’s a look at a few brands that have successfully entered this brave new world.
Extending physical to digital
In the spring of 2021, Gucci created digital versions of its Gucci Garden Archetypes housed at the brand’s palazzo in Florence, Italy, on the popular pre-teen gaming site Roblox. As a user’s avatar makes its way through the various gardens, it absorbs elements of its surroundings, creating a pattern unique to that user. The idea, Roblox’s senior director of product told Vogue Business, is that, while each avatar “starts as a blank canvas, the experience defines them.”
By extending an experience that exists in the physical world to the digital one, Gucci gained credibility among the next generation of fashionistas. Other brands can take a similar approach by sending customized invitations via SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp to join virtual book readings, giveaways or other events they would hold in real life. This will raise brand recognition in the metaverse as well as foster community among brand loyalists.
Make it personal
Customization and personalization are key attributes to a well-executed metaverse strategy. Unexpected and positive experiences are serendipitous. While the metaverse is still relatively new, brands can instill feelings of surprise and delight in their customers in the digital world by leveraging what they know about consumer behavior in the real world. If you have a pair of Common Projects Original Achilles sneakers and a Patagonia quarter-zip in real life, they should be hanging in your virtual closet as well.
Digital messaging enables brands to use images, links, video and other content to engage customers and transform lifelike interactions. This enables brands to deliver impactful messages throughout the buyer’s journey. These frequent micro-interactions will help consumers uncover brands in this new digital space. This can strengthen trust and increase customer satisfaction.
During the middle of the pandemic’s second summer, Reebok launched an augmented reality tool that enabled youth to create makeshift basketball spaces while formal courts were closed due to social distancing. The “Courting Greatness” digital tool leveraged the camera and measurement functionality in mobile phones to map rough dimensions of a basketball court – or simply a free-throw or three-point line. While we don’t know all the details about how Reebok promoted the event, companies creating these types of immersive experiences can create personalized messaging to targeted groups – in this case, youth basketball fans.
First mover advantage
The metaverse has incredible potential to fundamentally transform how brands are able to reach their customers – and how they are able to attract new ones. As the next platform to round out an omnichannel communications strategy, the metaverse will force brands to evolve their approach to guiding their customers’ journeys, ensuring that the digital experience matches – and surpasses – the experience in the physical world.
As the lines blur between the physical and digital worlds, marketers will need to invest time and money in advanced technology to support their presence in the metaverse. The metaverse represents simply the latest channel on which to communicate with your customers that will need to factor into existing omnichannel messaging strategies. But it likely won’t be the last.