The metaverse is the retail topic du jour these days, with huge investments underway and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, a potential market size of $800 billion by 2024.Last year, a Statista survey showed 74% of adults in the United States indicating they were going to join or were considering joining the metaverse. Overall, 41% of respondents stated that their reason for wanting to join was to experience things they couldn’t do in physical reality. The opportunity this represents for brands, and especially for the retail industry, couldn’t be clearer.
The industry has taken a significant hit at brick and mortar, even before the pandemic, and innovative brands have long focused on and invested in digital. Now the next iteration of the web has arrived, and brands like Ralph Lauren, Best Buy, Gucci, Tesla and Hyundai are getting on board. Gartner states that by 2026, 30% of global organizations will have products and services ready for the metaverse — but it’s important to note that it’s not one place yet, so brands have several options on how to engage.
Here are some examples of how brands can get involved and what they need to know:
Know your customer.
Be sure to be where the customers are and know your audience well. Listen to what they want and serve it up to them while keeping in line with who you are and what your brand stands for, authentically. There is nothing worse than “trying to be cool.” Gen Z sees right through it.
Know how to communicate visually.
The metaverse will require a host of technological innovations. Don’t overlook what needs to happen to imagery when you enter the metaverse. Your brand needs to be just as consistent on this platform as any other. However, in the metaverse, you will need to invest in 3D modeling and other new technologies that may develop. As an added bonus, if you do this on your site now, it helps with Google search.
Know what role online gaming plays.
Gaming plays a huge role in the metaverse. Brands can meet customers where they are in the digital space. By making your presence known in your customer’s gaming arena, you keep the brand top of mind where they live, breathe and relax. Just look at what Roblox and Fortnite are doing. This is a great way to enter the space for many fashion brands.
Be open to opportunities.
The metaverse is creating huge opportunities for businesses and marketers. Brands should capitalize on the exclusivity offered by virtual worlds and be willing to experiment with NFTs — which saw a $2.5 billion increase during the peak of the pandemic and will play a big role in the popularity of the metaverse. NFTs will represent a secure digital asset on the same blockchain technology used by cryptocurrency, and they will provide an individual proof of ownership that can gain value and be sold in the metaverse. Fashion retailers are already adopting NFTs to create exclusivity and status for their brands.
Make the investment.
This opportunity will require investing in the metaverse, especially in VR/AR hardware and purchasing digital real estate. But it will be worth it because it will allow brands to reach important demographics.
A recent survey uncovered a higher interest in the metaverse from millennials, with 48% in agreement that it is the next big thing, in comparison to 38% of Gen Zs. Additionally, polling found that 37% of Gen Zs believe owning unique digital items in the metaverse is worth spending their money on, compared with 33% of Americans overall. Again, millennials were more engaged, at 51%, and overall, seven out of 10 Gen Zs and millennials are interested in interacting with the metaverse.
The metaverse offers brands a new revenue channel, outstanding experience and a high level of engagement with consumers of all ages. But this will not happen overnight; Mark Zuckerberg indicated that the metaverse won’t evolve into a money-making business until “later in this decade.”
Lay the groundwork now and reap the benefits later!
Andrew Leibowitz is SVP, Client Success at Astound Commerce, leading a team of Client Success Managers and Directors. He is a vision-driven professional with a history of success in operations, business development, analysis and client relationship management for industry-leading brands. Leibowitz is in charge of building strategic relationships with brands to enhance their digital landscapes and deliver best-in-class customer experiences. He has over 20 years of experience working in numerous facets of commerce and retail. He has managed and delivered commerce business solutions for retailers worldwide, gaining a true understanding of different regions’ digital landscapes.