Brand Strategy NFTs Metaverse

Marketers are captivated by ChatGPT. But here’s why web3 still matters

By Cathy Hackl, Founder and Chief Metaverse Officer

January 26, 2023 | 7 min read

Web3 will continue to be a worthwhile investment for brands even in the age of generative AI, writes author and Journey founder Cathy Hackl.


The rise of web3 and the metaverse has led to a surge in demand for virtual fashion. / Adobe Stock

The past two years saw the rise of web3, the metaverse, and more recently generative AI. Brands are trying to keep up with each new technological shift but at times fall flat and have sometimes crashed under the weight of high expectations. If there’s anything we’ve learned lately it’s that the virtual landscape is constantly changing at a rapid pace, at times even faster than many of us had expected.

As a result, a new breed of leader will be needed to guide brands, companies, cities, governments and even startups in this era of accelerated change.

Making predictions for 2023 is no easy task. For some insight into what’s to come, I turned to trusted colleagues and partners. We also need to look at what has been in development, how it might be scaled and finally what matters to everyday people in 2023.

Web3 revolves around how people, places and things are connected in the new iteration of the internet. The innovation and creativity that comes from this space will transform peoples’ expectations of brands.

“As we approach a decade of unprecedented innovation, 2023 marks the beginning of a new era of technological advancement,” says Brandon Kaplan, my co-executive at Journey.

“The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 set in motion a 15-year chain of events that has drastically altered the way we live, work and communicate. With the convergence of cutting-edge technologies such as web3, generative AI, and other emergent technologies, we are on the cusp of witnessing the emergence of the next major paradigm shift. By the close of this year, we can expect to see the initial results of [the convergence of these technologies] providing a glimpse into the future of our lives leading into 2030 and beyond. It all begins to blend in 2023.”

Using Kaplan’s insight as a starting point, here are five predictions for web3 in 2023:

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  • Brands that prioritize community-focused engagement will enjoy long-term benefits. Traditional brands that enter web3 should foster their communities. When deploying web3 activations, focus on the value it provides, such as airdrops, access to exclusive events or other perks. Utility is key: Find out what your community wants to see from your brand in 2023, and take them on that journey. Don’t do it for the money; do it to build a longer-term relationship with those who love your brand and love what it stands for. One example of this principle in practice is Starbucks Odyssey, an NFT-based loyalty program that was launched as an extension of Starbucks’ preexisting rewards system, and which unlocks new benefits and experiences for its members.

  • The line between physical and virtual fashion will blur. 2023 will see the merging of physical and virtual fashion using near-field communication (NFC) technology, which links physical products to digital collectibles or digital twins. This can in turn create a more tailored retail experience for customers while introducing them to the world of virtual fashion.

  • Digital twins will become more important. We will continue to see new opportunities for brands to collaborate and co-create in new ways through the use of digital twins. Whether used in enterprise or in retail, digital twins that are updateable and trackable in real-time are becoming game changers for business leaders focused on process optimization, visualization, collaboration, and customer experience design.

  • Sustainability will be top-of-mind. Companies need to look at the environmental impact of blockchain technology. The hope is that as web3 technology evolves, it will also become more sustainable. (The 2022 Ethereum Merge was a major breakthrough in this respect.)

  • Generative AI will steal the spotlight. Generative AI is changing the way individuals and brands create. Those professionals who start learning how to use generative AI well (mastering the art of writing prompts, for example) will likely be setting themselves up for success.

Cathy Hackl is the founder and chief metaverse officer of Journey. She is also the author of Into the Metaverse: The Essential Guide to the Business Opportunities of the Web3 Era. For more on the latest happening in tech, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.

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