The metaverse is a fast-growing trend that will significantly impact business, culture, entertainment, and marketing. Mark Zuckerberg believes that the metaverse could be the next best concept after teleportation, and Gartner recently named the metaverse one of the five most promising technologies of 2022.
The word “metaverse” was formed by combining the prefix "meta", which means "outside", and the word "verse" - "universe". Metaverse means "beyond the universe." With the metaverse development, more and more virtual worlds will appear, and more complex interactions will emerge between them. The metaverse is a shared virtual space that uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology to create a hyperrealistic, immersive, and interactive environment.
Within the metaverse, there may be multiple virtual worlds where individuals may engage in various activities resulting from a combination of the physical and the digital. You can be within experiences, such as shopping, visiting friends and family, going to a concert, or a fashion event.
A few facts about the metaverse
- Meta (formerly Facebook) recently invested $50 million in non-profit funding groups to help the metaverse grow.
- Epic Games raised $1 billion in April 2021 to accelerate long-term development in the metaverse.
- By 2024, the metaverse market value could reach 800 billion dollars, against $47 in 2020. At the same time, the global market for AR, VR, and MR is estimated to be worth $300 billion in 2024.
- According to Gartner, by 2026, 25% of people will have spent at least one hour a day in the metaverse.
- To develop open standards for the metaverse, in June 2022, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Unity, and others announced The Metaverse Standards Forum.
Some tech companies already see the metaverse as an unprecedented opportunity to expand their presence. But metaverse is attractive not only to tech giants. Disney is developing its theme park in the metaverse, Coca-Cola has auctioned its first NFT, and Nike has already filed seven trademark applications in the metaverse. Gartner VP Marty Resnick believes that 30% of the organizations in the world will have products and services in the metaverse by 2026.
Businesses and users continue to embrace the digital future that is steadily approaching. While experts say that the development of the metaverse will continue for at least another 5-10 years, users can already participate in metaverse projects and integrate the blockchain into their lives.
The metaverse future is tomorrow
The boundaries between the real and virtual worlds, which are already relatively conventional, will be erased. Many people already live and work, have meetings with colleagues from different countries, and buy anything in stores in distinct parts of the world without leaving home.
Services and goods of virtual worlds have long been sold and purchased for real money. In November 2021, for example, the 3D virtual world platform Decentraland sold a piece of virtual land for $2.4 million. Decentraland sells virtual plots of land, game items, and services as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It runs on the Ethereum blockchain and has currencies, inflation, devaluation, and a market. Such brands as Samsung, Adidas, Atari, Dolce&Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Estée Lauder, and even PriceWaterhouseCoopers bought their plots to run advertising and sell goods or services. Even Sotheby's has a gallery in Decentraland.
Gucci has launched a virtual town on the platform of the Roblox metaverse.
As the luxury house explains, the project is a “dynamic destination” where users can explore the vision of the creative director Alessandro Michele, express their individuality through virtual clothing, and connect with like-minded peers, writes Input magazine. Gucci Town follows a 2-week event Gucci Garden on Roblox. During this event, a Gucci Dionysus bag was sold for $4,100, which is more expensive than the physical bag that usually retails for $3,400.
How brands benefit from the metaverse
It is challenging to think of a retail brand that hasn't used this relatively new technology yet or hasn't registered patent rights to do so shortly, given how pervasive it is in the industry. Some are opening virtual storefronts in the metaverse, starting NFT collections and games. So how is this technology valuable for brands?
- Building a community.
The virtual world has grown and developed into a different means of bringing people together. Customers can virtually connect with the brand representatives and other participants when businesses set up shop or hold events in the metaverse, building incredibly robust computer-simulated online communities.
- Reaching more audiences and attracting younger generations.
The millennial generation has adopted NFTs the most widely; it is estimated that over half of millennials own digital assets and have good purchasing power at this stage. Another generation that is very attractive to brands, Gen Z, is now one of the groups least likely to make NFT purchases. However, recent research shows that things will change as more than 74% of the generation considers NFT investments.
- Increasing revenue through omnichannel retailing.
People other than virtual avatars also can wear virtual clothing and have fun with. We can wear virtual clothing in Snapchat or Zoom meetings or share it on social media. Virtual fashion is offered in several forms, including games, digital pictures, augmented reality films, and NFTs.
- Integrating physical and virtual.
With the metaverse, retail businesses aim to bridge the gap between virtual reality and real-world things since, in the end, the future will be a mixed reality environment.
- Making collaborations.
Brands are pursuing security by working with those most knowledgeable about the industry. To take advantage of the value of ownership that NFTs offer and the technological innovation they represent, many businesses have teamed with marketplaces, crypto-artists, and other NFT professionals. Additionally, partnerships and synergies magically increase marketing inventiveness and brand presence.
- Bringing customer experience to a new level.
Aside from sales, the metaverse can be used to engage consumers in the brand and empower them to take control. By encouraging user-generated content and rewarding loyal followers with brand equity, brands can turn their regular customers into brand ambassadors.
Thus, the metaverse is a trending topic that will undoubtedly be gaining much attention in the coming years. Our lives are inevitably and irreversibly connected to the virtual, and the metaverse seems to be a logical step in the evolution of technology. Fashion retail has already accepted this innovation, and we can now watch how more and more brands are trying to take their place in this space of endless possibilities.