Intersecting with the metaverse creates a new path forward for retailers and brands
As consumers invest more in their digital identities, they are buying more digital products and spending more time in digital experiences. These digital identities are becoming as important as their physical selves, fusing digital and physical worlds.
Fundamentally, as consumers spend more time in new digital spaces, brands and retailers need to be there too. But it’s not just about being present. The metaverse offers unparalleled opportunities to create unique and differentiated experiences to engage consumers and build brand excitement, goodwill and trust. Failure to do so risks irrelevancy.
The metaverse is still taking shape, and brands still have the power to build their offering. Here are four considerations when building a strategic, meta-first roadmap to navigate the future:
1. Be focused on developing brand relevancy for the consumers of tomorrow
Gen Z and Gen Alpha are already spending increasing amounts of time engaging with aspects of the metaverse. As they get older and the metaverse grows, their engagement is likely to grow. When they become more economically empowered in the coming years, time spent in the metaverse will translate into a significant share of wallet. To be relevant in the future, brands must lay the groundwork now to understand emerging consumer preferences and prepare their business for the metaverse. This means putting these consumers at the heart of the planning of every metaverse experience and product created. This focus should be embedded into broader business planning to build brand awareness. Doing so will secure brand equity and evolve the company’s value proposition to fit a future forward and “phygital” (physical and the digital) strategy as well as create a consistent digital identity in these new platforms.
Build measures that protect and govern the use of consumer data and branded IP – these new channels and products are still nascent with emerging cybersecurity risks that executives will need to understand and mitigate.
2. Be proactive in engaging with digital consumer communities
Positioning the metaverse in the context of a new retail and social channel can help you grasp the bigger picture. As new communities emerge and interact in the metaverse, brands must find ways to identify and engage with them through a medium representing the next generation of the internet that combines, and transcends, existing channels of mobile, social and voice commerce.
To create intimacy and a new level of experience, go beyond attempting to replicate physical stores with aisles of products or scores of brand options in a virtual world. Engaging with, and developing communities around, brands and experiences to enable co-creation will require companies to open-up their systems to communities of developers who will drive innovation and enable new applications and products to be created. This participation will be rewarded with new forms of payment and digital rights to ensure communities share in the value they create while brand rights are maintained. Co-creators can become powerful brand ambassadors.
3. Be open to the creation of viable new revenue streams
Digital products are already a multibillion-dollar business. Creating innovative, profitable revenue streams, with the potential for sustainable, long-term growth, is essential. For example, NFTs are already generating revenue and providing a gateway for consumer brands to tap into the metaverse and reframe what consumer loyalty can mean going forward. These routes could help you earn royalties based on resales in secondary markets, similar to the way video games are increasingly released for free but bolstered through in-game purchases.
The metaverse also opens new avenues of value creation in the data it will generate – driving an exponential increase in the capacity to capture and understand consumer behaviors. This will drive value in trading or using data to better segment, target and personalize for individual consumers. However, as consumers come to terms with managing their own digital identities, this relationship will grow and trust will be needed to enable data to bring benefits to both the brand and the consumer.
4. Be creative in unlocking operational benefits through virtualization
Expanding into the metaverse requires efficient processes that are primed for the virtual world and a rethink of the value chain. It also offers up opportunities to improve your employee experience and operations.
The metaverse isn’t restricted to consumer experience; as the consumer metaverse evolves so will the industrial metaverse, which will provide environments for visualizing processes in virtual reality and understanding system inefficiencies, enabling remote design team collaboration, helping inventory management or simulating a manufacturing process, and addressing IP rights and control issues.
Leverage the metaverse as an opportunity to make your business more effective and potentially reduce risks at the same time.