What will your role in the metaverse be?

Finding the signal among the noise of the metaverse hype is tricky. Cutting through to a real plan of action is even harder. For our deep dive on the metaverse Amy Naughton, client services director at Jaywing, is here to help you find your place in the new worlds building themselves on top of our own.

The metaverse is nothing new. Arguably, it’s been 60 years in the making. Its roots trace back as far as a 1960s ‘sword of Damocles’ augmented reality (AR) display, or the development of virtual reality (VR) headsets by Nasa in the ’80s. Remember Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin? That’s the metaverse.

Kids would probably roll their eyes that virtual worlds are finally reaching our marketing vernacular. Enough social media for gen Z; it’s all about social gaming on Roblox, Fortnite and Among Us.

We’ve had decades of niche pockets of society gradually buying into the metaverse, but 2021 brought a Fortnite concert attracting over 40m views for Travis Scott and a Meta rebrand from Zuckerberg.

Still not convinced the revenue opportunities are worth it? Look at Sotheby’s (the 300-year-old auction house). They made $100m in 2021 off their new NFT category and Decentraland gallery.

Suddenly, the threat of not having a virtual advantage is becoming real.

Who can afford to ignore the metaverse?

Perhaps your product seems so removed from the metaverse that you think it isn’t relevant. I put my money on you being wrong.

What we don’t know is when that error will come to fruition. We don’t know when the acceleration will snowball enough to force businesses to undergo yet another digital transformation (and add a new dimension to business planning).

So, what do you do as a marketer? Begin to scenario plan and envisage how it could impact your business, and then use real-time data, both statistically and ethnographically, to check in on whether it’s time to make your metaverse move.

What role can your product play within the metaverse?

Fundamentally having the right product is king. Having a product relevant to the way audiences are consuming the metaverse is the key. If you’re a fashion brand, there’s an obvious connection with the popularity of personalized avatars.

Fashion brands can provide brand access and digital goods, or ideally blend them together, as in Gucci Gardens and Nike land. The former sees the digital version of the Dionysus bag selling for $800 more than the ‘real-life’ version.

Our client Goodyear provided tyres for competitors in WTCR esports events. This might seem niche right now, but imagine when we all need vehicles for our avatars in the metaverse. Suddenly you have a more interesting revenue possibility.

Finally, explore your brand as an experience. For travel companies, restaurants, bars and FMCG brands, experiential pop-ups can become permanent installations offering the chance to hang out, provide experiences and lay on entertainment.

Who in your organization needs to come on the journey?

It’s not as simple as just putting ‘metaverse’ on the marketing team’s agenda. The metaverse will offer a completely different sales channel and revenue stream for organizations getting it right. As with any real-world sales and distribution moves, you’ll need to explore a range of facets.

Should you replicate product lines digitally or create bespoke collections? What does your pricing strategy look like virtually compared with IRL? Is your brand strong enough to compete against new players with startup mentalities and lower price points? How will you distribute into multiple VR worlds (and where do you focus your efforts)? What currency do you want to trade in (and how will your shareholders view earnings in ‘walled garden’ environments such as Roblox where Robux don’t translate into pounds)?

It’s these questions, and a wider board-level viewpoint, that will be vital to make the moves quickly when the time comes.

The metaverse as a business strategy isn’t a quick resolve. Simply spinning up and experimenting as you may have done with an Instagram account 10 years ago simply won’t work. Creation and engagement in the metaverse is a fundamentally more complex problem.

Watch the market. Review the case studies and bring your senior leadership team on the journey from the beginning. Few brands will be saying 2022 is the time to activate, but the smart ones will be watching, learning and sharpening their entry plans.