How we have lived and worked through COVID has prepared us for the next internet release, Web 3.0. The accelerated acceptance of new behaviors catapulted eCommerce growth of 25.7% in 2021. With consumers accustomed to digital shopping and socializing, brand managers are seeking new opportunities to expand their omnichannel approach for products and services.
There are consumer brands that are building their Metaverse presence. Early adopters are establishing a presence which boosts the likelihood of the Metaverse having decentralized control and interoperability. These companies shaping their virtual presence are taking advantage of the beachheads established in the gaming and entertainment industries. Their success creates opportunities for branded experiences becoming virtual and immersive sponsorships.
Companies pioneering in the virtual world are using strategies taking advantage of new techniques afforded by the Metaverse. Strategies which extend brand loyalty through unique and creative virtual experiences.
Facebook – Rebranding for the Future: making the image breaking effort of a new vision to bring the Metaverse to life with rebranding and new a $150 million investment in a new developer platform.
Nike – Maintaining Top Retailer Relevancy: capitalized on a Metaverse opportunity with an immersive experience linking their clothing, entertainment, and gaming with a future of selling branded sneakers.
Coca-Cola – Leveraging Brand Power for Charity; launched an NFT auction that demonstrated the power of digital assets raising $575,000 in 72 hours with $500,000 going to charity.
Wendy’s – Changing the Rules of the Game: gaming in Fortnite competing in, Food Fight event Wendy built their winning strategy on their marketing slogan, “fresh, never frozen,” boosting brand mentions by 119%.
Gucci – Selling Digital and Physical Bags: sponsoring a virtual event on Roblox giving advertising campaign insights, purchasing digital clothing and bags in a limited time window with crypto virtual bag prices exceeding the real world bags.
Louis Vuitton – Happy Birthday: gaming celebrating the founder’s birthday, sharing fashion house legacy, innovation and NFT art while retaining collectibles during the game attracting new customers and solidifying brand loyalty.
Burberry – Two Can Play the Game: gaming with a memorable experience while showing fashions and the human/nature relationship.
Balenciaga – Clothes Make the Avatar: Fortnite collaboration with new digital apparel highlighted in the game with the debut limited time launch of a matching apparel line offered at premier Balenciaga stores and their B2C channel.
Zara – Virtual/Physical Product Line Launch; utilized NFT’s to simultaneously launch an identically priced line (Zepeto) in their physical stores and Metaverse virtual shops.
Hyundai – Mobility Adventure: first automotive company to enter the Metaverse with a virtual experience focused on younger consumers with avatar customization, focus on gaining awareness of existing and future mobility solutions.
Wal-Mart – All In
The greater the traction that commercial brands get using Metaverse features and capabilities, the sooner it will attain credibility as the next big thing.
Wal-Mart has benefited from Web 2.0 more than any other brand, except Amazon. Their success has changed who they are and grown their brand offerings. With a January 2022 filing, Wal-Mart made their commitment to the Metaverse. They made extensive trademark filings indicating what they were going to make/sell for virtual goods, offering virtual currency and selling NFT’s. This included a downloadable application offering financial services for digital currency and digital token value for member use on a global computer network.
“Continually exploring how emerging technologies may share future shopping experiences.”
The specific wording of the filings indicates that this is much more than a “me-too.” There appears to be significant planning for approaches addressing the Metaverse, cryptocurrency, and the virtual world. With a global brand of this magnitude making this commitment, all brands must pause and consider how they can protect their digital investments.
A Metaverse presence gives marketers another channel to introduce both Gen-X and Millennials to their brands and products. Brand participation in staking their claim in virtual worlds, is proof positive that there is commitment to defining the virtual worlds and augmented reality. This is consistent with the omnichannel strategy for reaching the consumer. By collaborating with gaming, there are opportunities for in-game purchases of avatar outfits and accessories. The optimism is reinforced by what we hear from the pioneers:
“…the same iconic and optimistic experiences they are used to in real life in the digital world.” – Oana Vlad, Sr. Director Coca-Cola Global Strategy
“The collaboration is indeed a step forward to how fashion and gaming can emerge to attract and maintain clients.” – Josie Zhang, President Burberry China
“2021 1WorldSync research found that nearly 7 out of 10 shoppers say a brand’s online presence compels them to seek out products when shopping in-store.” – 1 WorldSync
Fast followers may give away an unsurmountable advantage to the leaders. The leaders will have a significant following and fast followers must consider risk/reward determining what, how and when for the Metaverse entrée. Sustained presence in the Metaverse will require quality product and content when interacting with the consumer. Because 81% of consumers value product quality over brand image.
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