Wait & watch on metaverse | The Financial Express

Wait & watch on metaverse

Indian brands are yet to leverage the potential of metaverse

Wait & watch on metaverse
In India, much of the action on metaverse is limited to hosting press conferences, festive celebrations and product launches

Management consultancy McKinsey & Company predicted that the metaverse economy could reach $5 trillion by 2030 globally. E-commerce was expected to be the dominant engine, with gaming, entertainment and marketing also becoming key growth drivers. Brands were excited too — it was a whole new world to showcase their products and services.

Internationally, brands like Gucci and Sotheby’s have created metaverse-specific content and immersive virtual experiences. American rapper Snoop Dogg, for instance, has his own arena in Sandbox, where he invites people to private parties and get exclusive NFTs or non-fungible tokens. Nike has a purpose-built metaverse space, Nikeland, which uses the Roblox platform for fans to socialize and take part in the brand’s promotional acticities.

In India, however, much of the action on metaverse is limited to hosting press conferences, festive celebrations and product launches. There was great excitement when earlier this year Indian Premier League team Gujarat Titans unveiled their new team logo in the metaverse. The IPL team also launched its own space, “The Titans’ Dugout”, on the platform Spatial.io. “But we still lack the sophistication of, say, a Nike, or a Gucci, but these are what I would call teething troubles,” says a social media specialist who is working with a handful of brands on their metaverse plan.

Mehernosh Pithawalla, senior VP and head of brand and strategic insights, Godrej & Boyce, notes that the metaverse has the potential to take retail to the next level. “It can significantly enhance the consumer experience for industries like health care, manufacturing and real estate,” he says, adding Godrej & Boyce is currently “observing developments in the metaverse”.

Getting started

Zeenah Vilcassim, marketing director, Bacardi India, says that post the Covid pandemic, with more and more people spending and engaging online, brands are compelled to pivot towards the virtual world. The brand created an AR-led, immersive 3D Caribbean island experience for consumers across 25 countries last year during the pandemic in the metaverse. “It is an exciting space because in many ways, it mirrors the real world in the types of activities we can do, from taking OOH spaces and sponsoring gigs, to creating collaborative merchandise for consumers to purchase,” she says.

So what is holding back marketers in India? A key concern is that there is no way to measure the impact of the activity and one cannot evaluate the success merely by the number of consumers present at an event. “Reach is another issue, especially considering that Meta, one of the forerunners in the space, announced that it might take well over a decade for the metaverse to become popular enough for the masses to become comfortable with it. The return on investment or cost/reach in the current market, if calculated, would look prohibitive to advertisers,” explains Nupur Shah, VP and digital lead, West and South for PHD India.

On an average, metaverse investments by brands could range from $25,000 to $2,00,000 depending on the complexity that’s built in, says Prashant Puri, co-founder & CEO, AdLift. “We predict more brands investing in metaverse, as and when engagement and other key performance indicators prove to be worth the investment,” he states.

That apart, to be able to get the real metaverse experience, owning an AR or VR headset is necessary. The availability of these products in India is limited, so unless there is democratisation of the hardware among the masses, truly immersive metaverse experiences will be tough to achieve.

Little wonder, many brands in India have taken the wait and watch position.

Anjali Krishnan, head of media, Mondelez India points out that until consumers adopt metaverse at scale, it will be crucial for brands to test and learn with different experiences and engagement mechanisms. The company, apart from creating a virtual dinner date experience during a Dairy Milk Silk Valentine’s Day campaign, also innovated with metaverse to induct and get new hires on board this year. “The key is to have a constant pulse in understanding advancements like metaverse to bridge the gap between what our consumers seek and what the brand wants to communicate or retain from the engagement, thereby creating meaningful long term value,” Krishnan adds.

Also Read: Bisleri’s journey in India — when a brand became a category

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First published on: 25-11-2022 at 10:58 IST