Thirty years ago, Neal Stephenson coined the term “Metaverse” in his novel Snow Crash, with the hope that someday, the future would be ready for something like that. His idea of it was simple. A simulation of our world, in which we could ‘live’ digitally. Years later, that idea is right outside, knocking at our doors and on our screens; waiting for us to embrace it.
When Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook to Meta and started to gear up for this rebranding, the world knew that metaverse was going mainstream.
Now that we know something revolutionary is around the corner, the next burning question is how to gain the most out of this inevitable shift.
From an impact standpoint, three major spheres are already being discussed and sound intriguing. These include MetaSpaces, MetaSocieties, and MetaBusiness.
MetaSpaces and Societies would majorly focus on immersive experiences in virtual reality. Soon, it wouldn’t be a surprise if AirBnB and OyoRooms start building Metaspaces as part of their PR and advertising strategies.
Already, Invact Metaversity is perhaps the most talked-about attempt in this domain. It is a full-fledged university that is functional in the metaverse. Similarly, MetaBusiness would mean numerous opportunities for brands, retailers, advertisers, and employees to foster creativity. Various ideas like gamevertising, digital twin stores, meta-retail, and meta-workspace are doing the rounds.
As of now, most brands are experimenting and trying to find a comfortable way to venture into this. They are using the early metaverse stage to develop awareness, engagement, and loyalty with their respective customer bases.
Titan’s jewelry brand Tanishq launched its new collection ‘Rivaah’ on a metaverse platform. Using the metaverse for the launch entailed guests socializing with each other on the platform and using QR Codes to try on pieces from the collection virtually on an avatar they created. On a similar note, Nike claimed that around 7 million people from 224 different countries have visited Nikeland, its metaverse store, which is packed with minigames and also allows users to try out virtual products on their avatars.
During the NBA All-Star Week, Nike also invited LeBron James to Nikeland where he interacted with fans.
With such big brands venturing into this space, customer expectations are rapidly changing. The retail metaverse is an all-new dimension that brings in a lot of excitement.
As a consumer, instead of passively viewing a product on a screen, you step right into a different world. Brands that specifically target the newer generation will have to rapidly adapt to their expectations and reinvent themselves.
Let’s say native Indian retailers like Myntra and Nykaa work towards creating their metaverses. This would enable them to design products that solely remain in the virtual world but are still of value. Something like this is already prevalent in the gaming world where gamers purchase accessories and adorn their avatars with them.
The new generation has already warmed up to this idea, brands probably need to catch up. However, it will be important to be intentional with the engagement.
Building a community is the first step but being able to guide your customers through it would be of utmost importance. For example, retail brands might want to focus on familiarising their consumers with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), since they are the building blocks of the digital wallet system in the metaverse.
For someone entirely new to cryptocurrency and blockchain, all of this could very easily sound daunting. Similarly, security stakes will be another aspect to focus on. Fraud and phishing activities could very well make their way into the virtual world, with people misleadingly trying to impersonate avatars. This will make identity validation and protection a top priority for this new technology to be able to thrive.
As a final analysis, it is important to note that with the advent of every nascent technology, apprehensions come attached. The intangible feeling synonymous with the concept of metaverse does not help either. So, to address the elephant in the room, should companies dive deep into this immediately, or is this just another fad?
As a matter of fact, it is definitely a paradigm-shifting technological trend that has just begun. The Internet, back in the 90s, was a similar trend with similar apprehensions. Now, look where we are. The key is to be prepared for a revolutionary shift. Crafting visionary strategies and building teams that are equipped to navigate your business through the metaverse technology, would mean embracing this format early on and staying ahead in the game. After all, it is often said that innovation is the unrelenting drive to break the status quo and venture somewhere where very few have dared to go.