By Cory Hymel, Director of Blockchain, Gigster
Major tech companies such as Facebook (Meta), Microsoft and even Disney are pouring in billions and billions of dollars to develop their own metaverses. As early as 2021, big brands in fashion, food beverage and consumer goods, banking and other industries started creating and launching their own futuristic spaces and virtual product offerings in the existing metaverses.
Brands know that there is a whole virtual economy inside these online worlds, where people are spending time and money through cryptocurrencies. The race to enter the metaverse is intense and multiple companies are in the news every day trying to get into the space.
But the metaverse is not yet complete. We are still in the beginning.
In 2021, the metaverse had a record $501 million land sales and 163% sales spike of VR and AR devices. These numbers are expected to double in 2022 due to the “big rewards” that the metaverse presents and the expected growth from the upcoming metaverses of big tech firms.
Forward-thinking companies understand that metaverse technology will be a driver of growth for global enterprises businesses and it is shown in various key segments.
Customer Experience and Support
It’s better to show the customers, not tell. Traditional customer handling via calls, flyers and email is telling but the metaverse is showing. The digital universe is the next step forward in assisting customers: avatars of customer service staff can better show the benefits of the product or service through a demo of its virtual duplicates. Assisting customers on a personalized level will enhance their experience of the product or service.
Players’ avatars can also fit branded outfits and shoes to stride and socialize with inside the virtual world or fit something virtually that they can buy for use in the physical world. Big brands such as Nike, Adidas, Ralph Lauren and Balenciaga made digital versions of their outlets, products and merchandise items (in the form of NFTs) for player avatars to interact with, try on and purchase inside the virtual worlds they “live” in.
It is not only through virtual duplicates but companies like Amazon and Louis Vuitton also gamify the way people experience their brand and offerings. Amazon recently launched a metaverse game to train people how to use Amazon Web Services or AWS and acquire cloud-computing skills. Louis Vuitton launched Louis The Game, an adventure game featuring its main mascot Vivienne for the brand’s 200th anniversary.
This has changed the way brands interact with customers and audiences – from the buyers going to stores, websites or social media, to brands going to where the people are in the new world.
Advertising, Sales and Marketing
The metaverse is visually stimulating and companies and personalities are making the most of it to entice customers to buy in-game or real world products.
Players can see billboards, signages, video presentations and interactive art. They are drawn to this new world, trying to explore every angle of it, and what is happening around it. Virtual buildings and stores have big flashy neon logos, games inside to play, virtual factory walks, interactive assemblies and so on. The life-like interaction and concentration of enterprises within the players’ radius take advertising, sales and marketing to the next level. If social media can pique emotions and boost sales via photo, video, audio alone, what more if it’s a unique and interactive real-time experience?
Brands enter the metaverse through offering NFTs first, which mirrors their physical world products. Once successful, they will buy land parcels and open up virtual stores. Coca Cola created product NFTs, while Miller Lite and Heineken built their digital outlets in Decentraland to entice and engage people, while poking fun at the fact that they are unable to drink beverages on the screen. Ralph Lauren revealed it increased sales after it launched a winter sportswear line for avatars in Roblox, attracting younger shoppers. From dipping its toes to diving full on, Gucci bought land in Sandbox to open online concept store Gucci Vault after its successful NFT auction inspired by its Fall/Winter 2021 collection and its sales from the Gucci Garden in Roblox where users can purchase collectibles.
These brands benefit from low cost and high returns in metaverse sales. Payments are done through the blockchain via cryptocurrency ensuring transparent, direct and immutable transactions.
There is immense growth for NFT sales on the horizon, which can be an opportunity for companies. Morgan Stanley views that the NFT market will become a $240 billion market by 2030, while luxury branded NFTs can grow to a roughly $56 billion market.
Events and Conferences
Aside from games, events are the drivers of growth in the metaverse. It attracts people to socialize and dive into virtual worlds. The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder to gather hundreds to thousands of people in one place but the metaverse can. Virtually, crowds can hang out with friends in a concert or music festival, participate in contests that they like, host or attend launching ceremonies, conferences or even meta weddings.
Industry events are also happening in the digital world such as the Metaverse First Fashion Week in Decentraland. Massive key events like this can be an opportunity for companies to grow their meta customer base and to feel the pulse of the people to improve virtual and real-world customer experience.
As the metaverse technology improves and user base expands over the years, brands can look into the virtual worlds to reach millions of its audiences around the world through meta events.
Innovative and Collaborative Work
Enterprises can collaborate and innovate the way they work through the metaverse. Work teams can simultaneously brainstorm and collaborate on projects real-time via AR holograms. Simulations between digital twins of the project and human avatars can improve research and development (R&D). The metaverse technology can also help with 3D modeling and design, virtual presentation or demonstration, training personnel and testing of products and services, among others.
AR glasses for enterprise such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 or the Magic Leap 2 glasses are both being used by industries such as engineering, architecture, healthcare, defense and manufacturing to advance the way they work. Boeing uses HoloLens to work into building virtual planes for the metaverse. Airbus’ teams operate on HoloLens in R&D and design of their new planes, while Dell Technologies utilizes Nvidia’s Omniverse platform to collaborate among their teams to work on 3D modeling and design projects, all at the same time.
One director at NTT Docomo Ventures revealed that she has moved all of her meetings in the metaverse, citing the convenience of streamlining her whole processes and being able to talk to more people in a short amount of time.
This article was originally published on the author’s blog and reprinted with permission.
About the Author
Cory Hymel leads all things Web3 as the Director of Blockchain at Gigster, a company dedicated to helping businesses develop software applications with the speed of a startup, coupled with the quality and expertise of the most innovative global talent. Cory also manages academic partnerships to help further research into distributed teams and the future of work. Cory’s career started with providing enterprise strategy to large enterprises in the early days of the iPhone. He then moved into hardware development to help bring innovative IoT platforms to market. Follow him on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn and read his blog at https://gigster.com/blog.