The metaverse for business is here. It’s more than just games or entertainment. It’s a new platform for brands to innovate, build new products, reach new audiences and increase customer engagement. Metaverse marketing will prove to be valuable if done right.
Gartner predicted that 25% of consumers will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026. And with metaverse technology platforms predicted to reach $800 billion by 2024, brands need to take the metaverse seriously. Executives around the globe are already anticipating its arrival and planning how they can take advantage of its unique features.
The metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stevenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash for a virtual reality simulation of the real world that allows users to interact and digital objects in a 3D environment.
My first interaction with the term “metaverse” dates back to 2003 when virtual worlds like Second Life dominated the conversation on the internet. Many people, including myself, saw these platforms as the next big thing in digital, almost an evolution of social media and a way to connect with people from all parts of the world. For many, the appeal of Second Life died quickly, complaining that it was too clunky, nerdy, and time-consuming.
Nevertheless, the platform continues to chug along, and there is now renewed interest in its potential as a viable business opportunity. In particular, there is growing excitement about the possibility of using Second Life as one of many “metaverses.” While the hype surrounding virtual worlds may have waned, it seems it may have a bright future, given consumer and business interest in this space.
Below is a helpful timeline that eMarketer put together, showing the evolution of the metaverse.
In fact, over the past few years, there has been increasing interest in the potential of the metaverse as a platform for business and commerce. A recent report from Accenture found that 71% of executives feel like the metaverse will redefine and impact their industry positively, with 28% believing that it will enable new business practices and help them reach new customers.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a shared, virtual space where users can interact with other users, avatars, places, and content. It is often compared to the virtual world of the Matrix, where humans are connected to a simulated reality.
As mentioned, the concept of the metaverse has been around for decades. Still, it has only gained mainstream attention over the last couple of years with the rise of immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. While the metaverse is still in its early stages of development, it holds great potential for enterprise brands and their customers.
For example, the metaverse could be a new place to hold product demos or virtual press conferences for brands. It can also serve as a virtual customer care department. The use cases are endless. With its ability to immerse users in a realistic, digital environment, the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate and communicate with their constituencies.
According to a report from TechRepublic, 91% of enterprise companies are already using or planning to adopt metaverse-related technology (augmented reality and virtual reality) in the coming years with the following use cases:
- 60% are using it to supplement production and labor
- 53% are using it for customer care
- 53% for design & product engineering
- 26% are using it for corporate training
As the metaverse continues to evolve, we will likely see even more brands exploring its potential as a way to create new and improved digital customer experiences.
How can brands prepare for the metaverse?
As enterprise companies continue to invest in new technology and innovate, they need to prepare for metaverse marketing and the challenges that come with it.
Brands will need to make changes internally and focus on the operations of managing this new platform. This means they’ll have to adopt new tools and processes for creating and managing 3D and virtual content. They’ll have to hire the right talent, which will require a different skill set than what is needed today and PR agencies that understand the space.
Companies must also consider the employee experience and how internal teams can use the metaverse to communicate and collaborate within these platforms. Sales and digital marketing teams will need to plan for brand activations and how to recruit customers to be a part of their metaverse online community. Essentially the metaverse is an entirely new platform that must be integrated into the entire brand digital ecosystem.
In addition, brands need to find ways to stand out in a virtual environment that is already starting to become crowded and noisy. It’s already hard enough to capture customer attention on social media alone. The metaverse will add more complexity for brands reaching their audiences and must put the customer experience front and center for all brand activations.
Lastly, brands need to consider data privacy and security carefully. Since the metaverse is built on top of the internet, it inherits the same risks as managing an e-commerce site or a Facebook page. Brands must protect their and customers’ data from hackers and cyber threats.
Overall, the challenges businesses face in the metaverse are significant but not insurmountable. Brands can overcome these challenges and succeed in this exciting new VR world with careful planning and execution.
What opportunities will businesses have in the metaverse?
The metaverse can be whatever brands want it to be. Software and hardware technologies make it possible to build experiences beyond imagination, and the future of technology and the internet will power an immersive virtual world.
Brands can reach new markets and tap into previously untapped customer segments by building a metaverse destination. In addition, smart metaverse marketing can provide brands with a unique platform for branding and customer engagement. With avatar-based interactions and highly customizable digital environments, brands can create experiences that are truly unique and unparalleled. Brands that capitalize on these new platforms will have a distinct competitive advantage as the metaverse grows in popularity.
Another interesting data point is the Elon Musk Twitter buyout that happened in April. Elon Musk is a visionary, and now that he owns Twitter, I am excited to see how that will play into the larger metaverse ecosystem.
Here are five potential ways brands can leverage the metaverse:
Content Development: The metaverse allows brands to develop immersive experiences for their customers. Brands can create entire ecosystems with their own rules and physics. This allows for endless possibilities in terms of gameplay and narratives. In 2021, Hyundai announced “Hyundai Mobility Adventure,” a metaverse space on Roblox where users can engage with each other and experience Hyundai Motor’s mobility offerings. In 2022 during CES, they presented their “Metamobility” concept, which merges the use of vehicles and robots with the metaverse to connect to the virtual and real world.
Public Relations: By activating influencer or PR programs using the metaverse, brands can reach a global audience and connect with potential customers fun and interactive. Additionally, the metaverse allows businesses to create an immersive and customized experience to help build customer loyalty and brand awareness. For example, brands could create a virtual reality tour of their facility or host a virtual event that allows users to interact with their products or services. They could also hold a virtual press conference or satellite media tour in metaverse experience.
Corporate Training and Learning Development. The metaverse can be a powerful tool for corporate training and development. It can provide employees with a realistic, interactive environment to learn new skills and knowledge. It can also simulate real-world scenarios, allowing employees to test their skills in a safe and controlled setting. One study from PwC shows the value of using the metaverse for training:
- Employees can be trained up to 4x faster in a VR environment
- Employees are more confident applying what they learned after training in the metaverse
- Employees were up to 4x more focused during metaverse training
- Employees were 3.75x more emotionally connected to educational content learned in the metaverse
Also, the metaverse can be used to create custom training programs specifically tailored to your company’s needs. For example, suppose your company is launching a new product. In that case, you can create a virtual reality simulation that allows employees to experience the product and learn about its features and benefits.
Customer Service and Support: The metaverse provides an opportunity for brands to create a virtual customer service center that customers from anywhere in the world can access. Additionally, brands can use Metaverse to provide live customer support and chat, allowing customers to get help in real-time. For example, if a customer is having trouble using your product, you can provide them with a virtual customer service representative who can walk them through the process.
Product Development and Marketing: The Metaverse allows brands to test new products, services, concepts, and marketing campaigns in a safe and controlled environment. Additionally, brands can use the metaverse to create interactive experiences that allow customers to experience their products. Hyundai’s Metamobility vision brings this concept to life for those consumers interested in buying a new car.
How will the metaverse change consumer behavior?
The metaverse will profoundly impact brands and the way they operate. It will change how consumers behave, consume content, interact and shop. In the past, consumers would have to go into a store and physically purchase. The internet changed that.
In the metaverse, buying products will become even more accessible and convenient. Consumers can try on clothes and sneakers, test drives a new car, walk through an open house before making an offer or go on vacation, all from the convenience of their home.
Another way the metaverse will change businesses is by creating new opportunities for marketing and advertising. Businesses rely on billboards and TV commercials to reach potential customers in the physical world. But in the metaverse, companies will be able to create virtual storefronts that people can visit regardless of where they are in the world. This will allow brands to target a much larger audience than before.
Case in point. In May, Meta will be opening its first retail store in Burlingame, allowing customers to test, try on, and purchase videophones and the Quest virtual reality headsets. They’ll also be able to try the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, which are on my list to buy.
What are some possible scenarios for the future of business in the metaverse?
Some believe that the metaverse will lead to a new era of globalization, where businesses can operate in virtual worlds that are not bound by geographic boundaries. Others believe the metaverse will create new opportunities for niche businesses to thrive.
It is also possible that the metaverse will profoundly impact how we interact with customers and clients. For example, imagine being able to virtually walk through a store or office before making a purchase or signing a contract. Or what if you could attend a virtual conference with people worldwide without ever having to leave your home?
The possibilities are endless, and it’s impossible to predict precisely how the metaverse will impact business in the future. However, one thing is sure – the metaverse is a game-changer.
Recent Metaverse News
Global consulting company KPMG invested $30M in Web3 for employee training. They are launching a new collaboration hub connecting employees, clients, and other stakeholders to interact in the metaverse. The hub will be focused on education, collaboration, training, events, and various workshops.
HTC is building a phone to help their customers “enter the metaverse.” It’s unclear what that means, but it sounds cool. Along with the phone, they launched the “Vive Arts NFT store” within their app store.
Q: Are the metaverse and virtual reality the same thing?
A: No, the metaverse is a virtual world that people can access anywhere. Virtual reality is a technology that allows users to experience and interact with the metaverse.
Q: What is the difference between the metaverse and augmented reality?
A: Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information on the physical world. The metaverse is a virtual world that people can access from anywhere.
Q: How do NFTs impact the metaverse?
A: NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets that can be bought, sold, or traded in the metaverse. They are often used to represent virtual property or land.
Q: What is a real example of a metaverse today?
A: The best example of a metaverse today is Second Life, a virtual world that has been around since 2003.
Q: What will the metaverse be like in the future?
A: It is impossible to predict precisely how the metaverse will evolve, but some believe it will lead to a new era of globalization.