How is the metaverse relevant for marketers and brand strategists? On the one hand, there is already a clear transition from real commerce to the metaverse, with brands like Nike, Vans, Gucci and Balenciaga (to name a few) creating digital presences.
Viewed optimistically, the Metaverse is an opportunity for a brand reset. Due to its experiential and immersive nature, the Metaverse is an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in new ways.
Tell a story to allay your clients’ metaversal apprehensions
We like to feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. This is because our brain recognizes patterns in our environment and assigns meaning to them. In other words, we have a narrative bias. It helps us feel more in control, better predict other people’s behaviors and plan ahead, and we need it to lead happy and productive lives.
Brand strategists can exploit this bias toward narrative creation. In the metaverse, most consumers will be newcomers. By having an overarching continuity between the two worlds, “stories” will help alleviate consumers’ apprehension of the metaverse, thereby strengthening your brand image in both worlds.
Not only that, but thanks to the anchoring effect (where we tend to rely a bit too much on the first piece of information presented to us to make subsequent decisions), if your brand’s first metaversal movement makes consumers more comfortable, they remember (and act accordingly) for a long time.
Stella Artois’ partnership with Zed Run, a digital horse racing platform, is a classic example of this type of parallel marketing. The beer giant is known for its sponsorship of real-world sporting events, including horse racing. NFT horses that can be bred, raced, and traded therefore seem like an organic entry point to the metaverse. It’s new, but not too new, and reinforces Stella Artois brand associations in the minds of consumers.
Offer “fake” things to make your customers feel exclusive
We like to stand out in the real world, and the Metaverse is no different. This desire is well documented in the gaming industry. For example, while Fortnite Battle Royale is free to play, the average gamer ends up spending $84.67, of which almost 60% is for character outfits or the characters themselves. .
This need for uniqueness is an innate human motivation. We like to feel special and different from others around us, and this feeling persists even when we, and others around us, are digital avatars.
Successful metaverse branding will play a role in this. Limited-edition product launches, exclusive event access tokens, unique collectibles that can be presented to other avatars (e.g., by wearing them) are all ways to give consumers a social identity unique in the metaverse. They will feel special. And when we feel special, we come back for more.
For example, “The Collectors’ Room” – part of the Gucci Garden experience on Roblox – allows users to collect limited-edition digital Gucci items that only exist in this metaverse. From their initial sales numbers (selling things that literally aren’t real), Gucci has earned over $3.5 million. This is the power of otherworldly exclusivity.
Deliver new experiences and delight customers
The most exciting aspect of the Metaverse is its do-it-all structural makeup. Even the sky is not the limit. No more time and space constraints. It’s a chronically activated world that can be built from the ground up to match a brand’s wildest imagination. Use it well, and you struck gold.
Traditional marketing strategies are limited by concerns about feasibility, profitability, path dependency, scalability, to name a few. In the metaverse, these become pretty much irrelevant.
Go shopping for clothes. The traditional shopping experience is laborious for both brands and consumers: wrong size; endless trips to the fitting rooms; dead stock; unnecessary turnover; refund/return headaches; limited audience. It’s outdated, tiring and, perhaps most importantly, a drag on everyone involved.
This goes against the very emotions needed to drive consumer behavior in the first place. We need constant novelty (and its dopamine rush) coupled with diversity of choice (and the sense of control it brings) to drive the kind of consumer behavior that brands seek.
So how can brands use the metaverse to improve that consumer experience? Take Dimension Studio as an example. Upon entering their studio, you are volumetrically scanned by 106 cameras that create a realistic digital human version of you (new: check). Try on what you want, at any size, as many times as you want, with the push of a button, and in a fraction of the time it would otherwise get you to the store (choice: check out).
It seems to work for them. Dimension Studio doubled its revenue to $6.5 million in 2020-21 alone.