The world of digital marketing can be chaotic and exciting. Changes in technology create daily opportunities for brands in every industry, and you don’t have to know too much about TikTok, Instagram, or other social media apps to understand their impact. With more users swapping in-store visits for the comforts of online shopping, it seems the rules for digital marketing are changing just as quickly, with brands across multiple industries all looking for the newest, most creative ways to get their names and products in front of consumers.
Today, much of that focus has shifted towards what industry leaders have dubbed the “metaverse.” Hailed as one of the biggest digital marketing breakthroughs in recent history, it’s also still a bit of a mystery, offering brands of all sizes the chance to write the rules as they go along. In this article, we’ll dive more into what the metaverse is, what brands can expect, and how your brand can prepare to market your products in this exciting new digital frontier.
What is the Metaverse?
Before we dive too deep into how the metaverse works, it’s probably best to define what “the metaverse” actually means for businesses and everyday consumers. Thus, the best way to describe the metaverse is to imagine a place where virtual reality, augmented reality, and the internet meet. It’s not a single product, nor should it be confused with Facebook’s recent name change to “Meta.” In fact, the word “metaverse” and the idea have been around for a lot longer, first coined by the author Neal Stephenson for his 1992 novel Snow Crash. In Stephenson’s novel, everyday people can don VR goggles, enter a digital world, and shop, hang out with their friends, and interact with each other in a hyper-realistic, alternative reality to their own.
It’s an idea that might sound especially familiar to movie buffs and video game lovers, as films like The Matrix and novel adaptations like Ready Player One popularized what the blending of the real world and a virtual one might look like to everyday people. On top of that, modern sandbox-style video games like Minecraft and Roblox have become immensely successful off the concept, inviting users to build elaborate worlds of their own that they can log into, visit, and invite others to explore.
That being said, it’s important to note that the metaverse as we know it isn’t a type of video game or app that you log into, play for a couple of hours, then log off to pick up where you left off later. It’s a self-contained and fully functioning universe, one that’s always active and is comprised of multiple different platforms. It’s a place where “players” have individual agency and can be acknowledged for their work and a place where users are given the option to share that work across multiple connected universes. At the same time, it’s a place where someone on one side of the globe can virtually attend a concert, art exhibition, or other special event on the other side, free to interact with others who are doing the same thing. In short, the metaverse is a world that effectively has no “end.”
What Does Metaverse Marketing Mean?
Understandably, the metaverse has been a topic of considerable buzz over the last several years. While implications for marketing in the metaverse are still relatively new, this hasn’t stopped brands across several competitive industries from jumping in to try and come up with creative ways to get their products in front of legions of consumers.
Though the metaverse is currently contained within individual platforms and IPs like Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite (a fast-paced battle royale-style video game), and VR, a number of Silicon Valley behemoths like Microsoft, Meta, and even Google are hard at work trying to find ways to create more-unified experiences. On top of that, Citibank is already predicting that marketing in the metaverse could potentially be worth $13 trillion by 2030, encompassing some 5 billion users or roughly 60% of the world’s population.
Naturally, this begs the question of how brands are supposed to use the concept of virtual reality to sell real-world products. After all, if you can’t taste, smell, or physically touch certain products we take for granted every day, how can you convince consumers to try them, let alone buy them? The key is to tie your virtual marketing experiences in with the experiences you’d offer in the real world. In other words, creating a place where metaverse users in your target audience can come together, share new content, and buy or sell items and commodities associated with your brand.
What Are Some Current Examples of Metaverse Marketing?
As highlighted above, the metaverse and its marketing implications have caused a considerable stir in a number of highly competitive industries. Of these, high-profile beauty brands looking to revolutionize their beauty and skincare digital marketing strategies have partnered with third parties or optimized their own marketing teams to quickly adapt and learn how to establish themselves in this digital frontier.
Brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Estée Lauder, and Gucci have already thrown down the gauntlet, devising creative, confidence-boosting ways to help metaverse users express themselves through their avatars, free from the limitations they might face in the real world. Where beauty “was once built on commodification, now it can allow for more immersive experiences and education.”
Not surprisingly, a few of these beauty brands have also turned toward marketing their products to female gamer audiences already showing interest in what the metaverse has to offer. Charlotte Tilbury decided to sponsor their own Girl Gamer Festival, supplementing their efforts with the launch of a virtual store called Pillow Talk Party Virtual Beauty Wonderland. Here, metaverse users are greeted by a 3D avatar of the brand’s founder Charlotte, adding a welcome boost to brand awareness. Best of all, entering Charlotte’s world doesn’t require logging into a specific metaverse. Instead, you can find her portal via the web browser or mobile device of your choice. Scanning a QR code causes Charlotte to appear directly in front of you, complete with 3D products from her store that float and spin. If that weren’t enough, Charlotte’s store offers access to masterclasses with makeup artists from around the globe, along with the opportunity to shop alongside your friends.
So too have other high-profile beauty brands dipped their toes into metaverse marketing. The brand Lottie London made headlines for their digital collaboration with celebrity nail artist Chaun Legend in March of 2022, hosting an event in the Vegas City District of Decentraland, the first-ever virtual world owned by its users. Having been out of the nail category for six years, the metaverse seemed like the perfect way to re-enter the scene, as well as the perfect place to preview the brand’s newest collection.
While these are just a few examples of what the metaverse has to offer, it highlights the potential revenue opportunities that brands of all sizes can benefit from when they take the time to design and create meaningful brand experiences. Additionally, it gives brands who’ve yet to enter the metaverse an idea of how they can prepare to market their own products in the space.
How Can Brands Prepare for Marketing in the Metaverse?
It goes without saying that brands across multiple industries would love to have a complete roadmap of how to successfully market their products and services in the metaverse. Unfortunately, there’s no real set of “rules” for the metaverse, at least not yet. Everyone’s still trying to see what works and what doesn’t, and they’re all taking cues from competitors to test out new marketing strategies. That said, there are a few things brands can do to give themselves a bit of a head start, especially as more people begin to enter the metaverse and get a feel for it.
Research Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs)
You might have heard a thing or two about “NFTs.” Otherwise known as “non-fungible tokens,” NFTs are one of 2022’s biggest marketing trends, acting as one-of-a-kind digital representations of real-world objects like art, music, virtual real estate, and even videos. Bought and sold online with cryptocurrency, the market for NFTs ballooned to $41 billion in 2021, nearly reaching the total value of the global market for fine art.
While the nature of NFTs and their value is still hotly debated, this hasn’t stopped brands across several industries (including those highlighted above) from looking into the prospect. Estée Lauder offered Decentraland users their own taste of NFTs when they partnered with the platform to host a Metaverse Fashion Week in March of 2022. By stepping inside a digital version of their Advanced Night Repair product, user avatars would receive a glowing aura that would last as long as that user wished. Additionally, each user was given an exclusive proof of attendance protocol (POAP), essentially an NFT signifying that they attended the event. While this is just one example of several (bigger brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and the NFL all have experience with NFT campaigns), it goes to show how easily brands can create brand awareness and conversion opportunities by leveraging these newer technologies and trends.
Study the Competition
As with any digital marketing strategy, preparing for marketing in the metaverse means studying what your competitors are doing, specifically the types of events they might be hosting or the ways they might be promoting their products and services. Are they creating worlds built around their brand and inviting users to explore them similar to Charlotte Tilbury? Are they sweetening the pot with exclusive NFTs?
Whatever strategy they’re utilizing, ask yourself if your brand would benefit from more of the same. Likewise, try and get a good feel for how well those strategies are working, as the insights you gather will help you to formulate your own metaverse marketing strategy later.
Build Your Own Metaverse Marketing Team
Today’s shoppers are increasingly discovering new brands and products online, so it only makes sense to try and meet these customers on their own turf.
As such, any brand looking to grow its online presence should give serious consideration to building its own dedicated metaverse marketing team. By doing the necessary work now, you’ll put yourself in a much better position for the future.
Let’s face it, no one can truly predict what’s to come with the metaverse. One thing is for certain though – the metaverse is going to have a major impact on how businesses across many industries target, engage and convert their target audience.
Who knows? Your brand might even be one to write the rules of what it truly means to own marketing in the metaverse.
Interested in learning more about the Metaverse?
Join us on Thursday, September 22nd for AMA SF Presents: Explore the Metaverse, the first in a new series of events. Register now.