This Week in the Metaverse: VR sales soar, Miller Lite’s virtual bar and Patrón NFTs

Things are moving fast in the metaverse. Depending on who you speak to, this futuristic virtual world is either the next big thing in marketing or an overhyped fad. No matter which camp you reside in, the fact is that marketers and brands are experimenting at a rapid clip. There will be successes and failures. To help you keep up, The Drum will curate the biggest things happening in the metaverse every Friday in this new series: “This week in the metaverse.” And so, without further adieu, here’s what you need to know from this past week:

AR and VR product sales surged during the holidays. VR/AR hardware and accessories sales doubled during the five-week holiday period from the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas, per The NPD Group. Sales units and dollar sales were up 180% and 153%, respectively, compared to the prior year. The spike reflects a rising public interest in virtual experiences, as well as a growing push from brands to promote the metaverse. “This year’s holiday gains come as consumers continue to look for unique entertainment experiences and also likely benefited from challenges consumers faced in securing popular gaming consoles,” Ben Arnold, NPD’s executive director and technology industry analyst said in a statement. “That said, as new devices become available, and the consumer base has an opportunity to grow, we expect positive momentum in the year ahead – starting with 32% revenue growth in the first half. The Metaverse, VR/AR, and smart glasses will be areas to watch in 2022.”

Patrón launches NFTs to unlock access to “one-of-a-kind” tequila. Patrón has announced that it is collaborating with BlockBar.com to promote and sell Chairman’s Reserve, “an incredible aged tequila reserved for the most discerning fans.” BlockBar.com is a platform which partners with wine and spirits companies to sell NFTs, each of which represents a physical bottle. This is the first time that Chairman’s Reserve has been made available to the public; beginning at 10am ET on January 25, consumers can purchase a tequila NFT (which will cost 1.5 ETH a pop), which will then provide “ownership rights” to a physical bottle. Only 150 bottles of Chairman’s Reserve will be available through the NFT drop.

Miller Lite announces plan to open a metaverse-based bar during Super Bowl LVI. We know what you’re thinking: will they be serving virtual drinks, too? Not exactly. This year, Miller Lite will be opening a virtual space in Decentraland — a platform that offers real estate in the expanding virtual universe — where fans can view the beer company’s 2022 Super Bowl ad. The ad will not be airing on the televised game itself. Miller Lite’s virtual bar represents one of the latest tactics employed by brands to draw consumers into the metaverse by offering access to rare or exclusive content.

Ralph Lauren CEO hints at expanding the brand’s virtual footprint. Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet announced during the annual National Retail Federation conference earlier this week that the fashion company will expand its presence in the metaverse, primarily as a means of attracting younger shoppers. “One of our strategies is to win over a new generation and the new generation is there. So we have to be there,” Louvet told CNBC. He noted that customers can currently dress their avatars in Ralph Lauren apparel in ZEPETO and Roblox, two platforms that have become popular virtual playgrounds throughout the metaverse craze. Last year, Ralph Lauren launched a virtual store in collaboration with ZEPETO modeled largely on its flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City. The luxury fashion brand is just one of several that has recently begun to experiment with new modes of gaining a foothold in the metaverse.

Walmart has big plans for the metaverse. Walmart could be on the verge of staking a massive claim in the metaverse, according to reports. The retail giant has recently filed numerous applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office aimed at giving the company the rights “to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products.” Another application stated that Walmart would begin offering NFTs and a virtual currency to customers. Seven applications in total were filed.

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