Although not a new concept, the word “Metaverse” has been on everyone’s lips since Facebook rebranded itself as Meta and positioned itself as a major player in the new virtual world.
Cezar Pereira, Strategic Account Director at Tiendeo, a company that specialises in the digitalisation of the retail sector, kicks off the debate with the following question:
Are we facing a fleeting fad or a new world that is opening a powerful business model?
He invites us to ask ourselves what we think of the metaverse and find out how it changes people’s lives with opportunities for retailers and brands to connect with the consumer.
A whole new universe in the making
The Metaverse is a virtual space that we can connect to via devices like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) glasses or helmets and apps that offer the promise of an immersive experience that feels like we are actually there, interacting with other people and objects.
In this alternative world, everything will be possible through an avatar: buying goods and services, attending concerts, travelling, playing games and even working.
The amazing thing about this universe is that you can teleport from one experience to another without leaving your room. The development of the metaverse seeks to extend the real world into the virtual world by making everyday actions into a spectacle.
It’s vital to understand a complex universe, made up of not one but dozens of metaverses.
In the USA, there are four major companies competing to be number one in the race to dominate the metaverse: Meta (Facebook), Roblox, Fortnite and Microsoft, as well as other technological giants that will also set the tone for this industry in the coming year.
What makes the metaverse so appealing?
This tech, as a business model has led many companies to create their own “omniverses”.
The user ventures into the metaverse to escape from the real world, because it offers an alluring possibility of creating their own personality, to show themselves as they “feel” they are and not how they are physically, taking the user experience to another level.
This introduces a new form of interaction through the D2A (direct-to-avatar) model where we will no longer buy clothes for ourselves, but for our representation in the metaverse.
The challenge is to get people to do their activities in this digital universe as we do in the physical world, giving rise to virtual marketplaces that move large sums of money.
This is not so far-fetched in an age where humans are already glued to technology and it is speculated that by 2030 we will spend more time in the metaverse than in “real life”.
To this end therefore, the desire for many companies to dominate the new virtual spaces reveals an eagerness to control the way that people interact with each other.
The Metaverse at the forefront of the retail sector
The opportunities offered by the Metaverse are endless in the field of commerce.
Technology company Wildbytes estimates that in the next five years, 70% of the major brands around the whole world will leverage and harness a presence in the Metaverse.
By 2023 some companies are already promising to launch a new product while others are already looking at the possibility of creating shopping centres, boutiques and virtual shops where avatars will be able to buy NFT products and pay in cryptocurrencies.
The retail sector is one of the most heavily invested in the Metaverse.
Gucci started selling its own virtual clothing, the Gucci Virtual 25 trainers and H&M launched its first virtual collection through Nintendo‘s social simulation game Animal Crossing.
IKEA also uses Augmented Reality technology in its App to allow customers to create their own spaces and see how furniture would look in the physical world using AR technology.
Brands went even further and have no hesitation about making a clear commitment to the Metaverse. Nike has gone so far as to create its own virtual universe: Nikeland.
Nikeland is a space that offers access to various sporting arenas, as well as a showroom where users can equip their avatars with Nike shoes to take part in competitions.
The Nike brand also uses the space as a testing ground so that younger generations can experience its new products through avatars before purchasing them in real life.
In short, the metaverse revolution holds the promise of a digital experience in which the virtual world and the real world intertwine and merge under a single reality.
It is now up to brands and retailers to find their place in it and explore its full potential.