When Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would change its name to Meta and focus on the metaverse, consumer reaction was mixed, but brand marketers appeared to be on board with the move. In just a few weeks, retail brands have staked their claim to the metaverse and devise inventive ways to take part.
The metaverse, in Zuckerberg's vision, comprises streams of interoperable experiences, with customers interacting across virtual worlds using a single persistent avatar. Although no single company will own the metaverse, early adopters will reap significant benefits.
The concept of what it means to be involved in the metaverse is already developing as retail brands enter the test-and-learn phase. Here's how top retail brands are embracing the metaverse in search of new marketing growth and innovation opportunities.
People will create digital avatars that can freely move around virtual worlds in the metaverse. Gucci and Louis Vuitton, for example, have already started selling virtual handbags and accessories for digital avatars. Limited-edition virtual accessories in Roblox's Gucci Garden space range in price from $1 to $9. However, as the metaverse grows and people become more interested in the brands their avatars wear, the price of designer goods is likely to rise, and more luxury brands will sell virtual clothing and accessories.
Sephora was one of the first companies to embrace digital technology. With a makeup app that uses facial recognition to allow customers to try on products from home, the global retailer helped usher virtual and augmented reality into the beauty industry. Consumers who use Meta's virtual reality headsets will star in their own makeup tutorials, share their favorite products with friends, and try out the latest Sephora product releases without ever having to step foot inside a Sephora store.
In the metaverse, online gaming is expected to play a significant role. In May, Microsoft unveiled its metaverse tech stack, and in April, Epic Games announced funding to support its metaverse vision. Retail brands have a tremendous opportunity in online gaming, both to sell clothing for digital avatars and to create branded virtual environments where gamers interact. Procter & Gamble has already teamed up with Animal Crossing to create realistic skin types for player avatars, including freckles, acne, cellulite, and stretch marks. P&G's My Skin, My Way campaign inspired the project. Hellmann's has also gotten involved with Animal Crossing by creating a branded island where players can drop off spoiled turnips for actual food rescue donations.
Crockpot is quietly making its way into the metaverse by selling non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs are becoming a bridge between more traditional consumers and digitally savvy buyers, according to Chris Robbins, CEO of Crockpot's parent company, Newell, in an interview. Crockpot's NFT is an animated GIF that depicts cartoon renditions of Crockpot from its inception in the 1970s to the present day. While an NFT like Crockpot's actual value is low, its marketing value is much higher. As the metaverse grows, expect to see more brands using NFTs to raise awareness.
People will shop for physical goods in the metaverse using VR goggles. The problem with shopping for physical items in a virtual environment is that size and fit can be difficult to determine. This is where augmented reality enters the picture. Target, IKEA, and Wayfair will be ready to pounce when the metaverse blurs the lines between physical and virtual shopping. All three retailers have added augmented reality (AR) capabilities to their mobile apps, allowing customers to see how products will look in their homes and on their bodies. In some ways, AR can make shopping online easier than shopping in store because customers can see products in their own environments.
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