The Metaverse: A world of unlimited business opportunities
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What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a digital world in which every day experiences such as working, socialising, and gaming occur. Whereas the present internet experience is two-dimensional, meaning you browse and scroll through it on a screen, the Metaverse is 3D. You can walk through it via connected headsets or glasses.
Why does it matter?
The Metaverse is set to create countless business opportunities across three key areas, including:
- digital working environments which facilitate more effective collaboration;
- virtual reality worlds designed to revolutionise the way brands interact with consumers; and
- retail opportunities involving virtual experiences, products and services which aim to generate new revenue streams for businesses.
The world of work is possibly where the Metaverse will have the most significant impact. Building on remote working trends stemming from the pandemic, the Metaverse will provide in-person contact as well as spontaneity. Virtual work currently takes place at the expense of reading of body language or the organic sharing of ideas that happens when you drop by a colleague’s desk. However, in the Metaverse, team members can join up and collaborate in virtual workspaces as 3D avatars in a way that more closely resembles the real world. This will be a particularly revolutionary feature in fields such as healthcare, architecture and construction where being able to engage with ideas and problems visually using 3D models is essential. In the Metaverse, anything can be 3D-modeled, allowing more precise assessment, design, and decision making with fewer time constraints and financial costs. There is no doubt that the Metaverse interface offers unique solutions for the medical sector.
The Metaverse will also allow brands to connect with consumers on a whole new level by permitting them to take ownership of digital assets and access community exclusive perks. By entering the virtual world, users can attend virtual stores or see digital ads. To this point, Facebook recently filed several patents that cover the tracking of users’ facial expressions and body poses – for example, if a user’s eyes linger over an image, this may indicate they like it. The measurement of such data could be an extremely valuable tool in understanding what ads and products work best, helping marketers to direct their efforts towards new digital advertising opportunities including everything from events to sponsoring the appearance of an object in a virtual store.
Businesses can also use this information to target their ads and get better results than those available using standard web solutions – something we have seen realized already through in-game advertising. On Fortnite, players can equip luxury clothing from brands like Balenciaga or use the complete kit of their favourite NFL team. These skins instantly provide brand visibility to Fortnite’s 350 million+ user base.
Many NFT projects use digital assets to create communities by offering exclusive perks. A notable example is the Bored Ape Yacht Club who managed to secure a private concert with Snoop Dogg and Eminem exclusively for its NFT holders. Businesses could similarly issue their own limited NFTs and grant holders exclusive access to certain events or content to solidify the relationship between the brand and the consumer.
The Metaverse is likely to accelerate the trend of purchasing products remotely while also enabling a more interactive in-store experience. Users could enter the virtual space and see products as if they were in an actual store. Brands could set up their own flagship stores or boost their revenues by offering unique collectible items. Last year, Nike acquired RTFKT, a digital design studio that produces sneakers for the virtual environment and opened the NikeVirtualStudio, a new division focused solely on creating virtual goods. Virtual retail has already seen some high value deals with a virtual Gucci handbag selling within Roblox for $4,115 and a Dolce & Gabbana NFT collection selling for nearly $5.7 million. However, this trend could lead to a rise in litigation as big brands try to protect their intellectual property in the Metaverse. For example, Hermès recently filed an infringement claim in the US against a third party offering digital assets branded as ‘METABIRKINS’, showing digital representations of the famous Birkin bag.
What can we expect?
Businesses will need to consider what area of the Metaverse to focus on. Brands like Nike and Adidas will likely focus on retail opportunities; meanwhile, companies in professional sectors will be keen to capitalise on productivity capabilities, and larger enterprises like Microsoft will be looking to establish control over multiple sectors. The Metaverse presents countless opportunities for businesses, and having a comprehensive Metaverse strategy will likely become as common as a social media strategy is now.
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