We can read about the ‘’Metaverse’’ as being the ‘’new thing’’ lately and how some believe it is the future, while others think it is another fad.
First of all, this is not new. It has been many years since lots of things are being developed and reached different levels of maturity in this area, the first ones being Virtual Reality experiences and gaming. As one of the first to have developed a virtual job fair in 2007 and a VR-commerce platform in 2016, I could not miss going deeper into what seems to appear as a ‘’phenomenon’’ to most.
Instead of writing a definition, I will attempt to describe it in a more concrete way.
If you have seen the movies Reader Player One or Avatar, you should get a good perspective of what the metaverse is. It is an overlap between reality and virtuality, where each life is the prolongation of the other one.
Imagine that while you are sleeping in real life, things that started in your virtual life continue to happen. Imagine, like in Minecraft, your crops continue to grow and when you pick up the game you can harvest. Imagine, like in Second Life, that you can have a family, a different job, than the one you have in real life. Imagine, that what you purchase in virtual, can be used in reality. Imagine that the money you earn in virtual currency can be used in reality (like cryptocurrency in some way). Now, you combine all these and it gives you the metaverse.
The use of virtual goods is not new either. In many games, it is possible to buy goods with the game currency (cloths, armors, tools…), and shopping in the metaverse is not much different than this. The only difference is that real currency can be used to buy those goods and those goods can be used in real life. With the role of new technologies like the blockchain, the data elements can remain constant and secure, enabling an easier transfer from one world to the other.
USING THE METAVERSE FOR SHOPPING
Let’s define a couple of scenarios to see how the metaverse can apply to shopping.
As a wine brand, you can bring your customers to the vineyard, have them live the whole growth of the grapes, try the wine and buy it right there.
As the same brand, you can offer your customers different venues and one can pick to experience your wine tasting in a long chair, in an exotic place at sunset.
As a customer, instead of going to a store, you can decide to buy the product directly at the factory or on a different planet, or being carried like a maharaja on an elephant and just use a wand to point out the products you want as you go through an open Bazar.
As a soap brand, which product is created using traditional techniques, (like Le Savon de Marseille, for example), you can bring your customer back in time, to the period when the product was first produced using the ancestral method, and create one of these soaps yourself.
As a customer, on your way back from a quest in the universe, you can stop by a planet and do your grocery shopping there, so when you come back to real life, your purchase is ready at your doorstep.
Any scenario is possible and the shopping experience can have no limits in time or space. With the Metaverse, brands are offering real experiential marketing to their customers. Customers can actively engage with the brand and participate in the fabrication of the product. The experience is taking the driver's seat. The product is only the vehicle.
METAVERSE AND PERSONALIZATION
The new generations want to buy from brands that meet their values, and they want a personalized experience. They want more than just a product. 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Such technology enables them to learn more and get closer to the brand.
With the Metaverse, the shopping experience can be completely personalized based on each individual and even differ based on their mood of the moment. Brands will have a more difficult time appealing to customers because they will have to create a variety of universes that can work for a very large number of people but the conversion should be way higher as they will be able to be more in sync with the customer’s expectations at a specific time. Relevancy is what customers want. Today, personalization is driven by algorithms but with the Metaverse, the customer will be driving the personalization themselves. The Metaverse is another step closer to a hyper-personalized shopping experience.
METAVERSE AND CHALLENGES
The technology will remain the challenge, the same way as it was in 2017. Until the devices become smaller and easier to integrate into our lives, it will always have a negative impact on the adoption of the concept.
Developing hyper-realist universes is expensive but without this level of realism in the production, the customers will not be able to fully blend the lines between the two worlds.
I see an opportunity for the brands to provide a different shopping experience to their customers and to improve an eCommerce experience from 2D to 3D. The Metaverse is not a fad, it is simply a rebranding and evolution of Virtual Reality, bringing the technology a step closer to becoming mainstream in the consumer’s life.