By Nishant Chandra
Metaverse is emerging to be the new marketing playground for brands. Many of the top companies and personalities in the world have already started leveraging metaverse, if not integrated into it already.
In April 2020, American entertainer Travis Scott held a live Fortnite concert in the Metaverse that garnered 27.7 million unique attendees – far more than a typical physical concert venue can accommodate – and was viewed 45.8 million times, meaning millions of players logged on to attend, multiple-times, over the event’s five-day run.
Gucci, the high-end fashion brand, has created The Gucci Garden Experience to sell virtual products, and in 2021 sold a virtual-only digital twin of a Gucci purse for a higher price than its real-world counterpart. The company had already gone digital in June 2021, auctioning a new Non-Fungible Token (NFT) inspired by its autumn-winter collection The United Kingdom sporting club Manchester City is making its own Metaverse at a cost of $100 million for which Sony has been given the contract and is scheduled to be completed by 2024. A similar experience has already been launched by the US Major League Baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. Similarly, Emirates Airlines in 2022 announced that it will enter the Metaverse and provide customer service via this avenue.
Louis Vuitton has launched Louis the Game, which integrates about 30 NFTs into a mobile game that was created to celebrate the company’s bicentennial. Nike has acquired RTFKT Studios, a start-up design company specialising in virtual footwear and collectibles. Burberry partnered with the Blankos Block Party game to introduce its first NFTs in August 2021. And in January 2022, Adidas and Prada brought the Adidas for Prada Re-Nylon collection to the Metaverse in their third collaboration.
Companies in many other sectors have also been getting into the NFT space. To commemorate the return of the McRib for a limited time on its restaurants’ menu, McDonald’s launched its first-ever NFT promotion with ten individual McRib NFTs being made available to those who retweeted the brand’s invitation. More than 21,000 people responded within hours and nearly 93,000 had done so by early 2022. The US National Football League offered spectators at this year’s Super Bowl a free NFT specific to their section, row, and seat. Seven tokens were also available for purchase to commemorate the previous seven championship games in the 2022 host city of Los Angeles.
In India, we collaborated with Yug Metaverse to organise the first-ever Holi set in metaverse. Participants from across the world joined in to celebrate the festival of colors. Many prominent film stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Sonu Nigam and Salman Khan have launched their NFTs among the others. The opportunities for marketing via the Metaverse platform are immense.
The Metaverse market that is taking shape offers a wide range of commercial opportunities to enterprises. Technology, media, and telecom companies will benefit directly by providing technological enablers, such as 5G, next-generation Wi-Fi or broadband networks, and new operating systems, app stores, and platforms to foster more content creation. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools are being actively explored and used in industries ranging from health care to industrial goods production.
For consumers, there are plenty of reasons to be excited and see utility by entering the Metaverse platform. The platform offers consumer-facing companies the opportunity to provide consumers’ with new ways to shop, such as virtual storefronts, with virtual try-ons. It provides physical-virtual experiences or exclusive access to a brand’s events or concerts. Consumers can participate in co-creating assets and experiences, exchanging goods, or earning money and use novel methods of interaction with others communities.
Despite all the innovation and progress, there are a few deterrents within the present Metaverse iteration. For example, if a beautiful historic palace or any 3D Model is created, that can be rendered impeccably via platforms such as Unreal Engine or Unity – the moment it is transported into the current global Web3 Metaverse, there are platforms such as Sandbox, that enable others to visually decimate the work, to the point where it can be perceived as atrocious. Going forward as new Metaverse platforms evolve, this problem should be addressed shortly. Another problem is that most current Metaverse platforms are Desktop First and not Mobile first which limits the reach especially in developing countries where penetration of desktops is lesser than mobile phones. Another key problem is that most of these experiences in the Metaverse can only be accessed and interacted to their full potential at present by the use of Crypto/ Digital Currencies only. It is particularly so since crypto currency is specific to these Metaverse platforms.
While there are limitations with the Metaverse as is with any new technology, there also lies a sea of opportunities for the brands to engage creatively with their target audience. The day is not far when brands will immerse in the world of immense possibilities of the metaverse.
The author is co-founder of Blocktickets