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Metaverse Reality: Busting 3 Myths About the World(s) of the Web3 – Retail TouchPoints

While the initial consumer and media hype surrounding the metaverse appears to have simmered from its 2021 highs, the virtual spaces that made the headlines last year continue to grow and attract visitors – consumers and brands.

A lot of brands have frankly missed out on Web2, and these are the brands that are getting into Web3.“said Sasha Wallinger, head of Metaverse and Web3 strategy at the innovation and design consultancy Journey in an interview with Retail Touch Points. “What I mean by [missing Web2] not having a hearty e-commerce channel or not understanding the intimacy that social can bring to their consumer experience – that was a big miss. Retailers who are self-aware enough to know they missed the mark in Web2 are braver in Web3. »

And yet, as Meta pays billions in the most expensive technology project in history and countless other companies are launching Roblox worlds and branded avatar clothing, the majority of consumers are still largely unknown to Web3. Only 25% respondents in a recent Publicis Sapient survey said they were very or somewhat familiar with the Metaverse. However, this number has increased to 40% among US respondents; indeed, America seems to be the most mature market when it comes to metaverse development and adoption.

“Right now, we’re seeing the first wave of innovation — companies risking everything to solve a problem,” said AJ Dalal, managing director of data and web3 strategy at Publicis Sapient in comments shared with Retail Touch Points. “The death of this wave, like the death of AOL or MyVista for example, opens the door to the second wavewhere innovation will grow sustainably.

Journey’s Wallinger shared their perspective on where Web3 is today and debunked some common misconceptions to help brands focus their time and energy in 2023.

Myth #1: Every brand should already be in the metaverse

The truth: As Dalal points out, the metaverse and Web3 are still in the early stages of growth, which means brands have time to find an approach that works for them. What each brand should do at this point, however, is to have the conversation, Wallinger said.

“It’s a really exciting new tool as a marketer to connect with your audience,” she said. “You’re not totally off the radar if you don’t do this holiday season, but there will be that Gen Z audience share that you’ll want to seek out. There is also a growing native Web3 consumer base that you will want to consider. Start to understand how they spend time in the metaverse so that when you create collections or marketing items, or even in-store moments, you can convey something related to them. »

For brands focused on younger consumers, Gen Z in particular, the metaverse will be to be a major new channel. The Publicis Sapient survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that Gen Z leads the pack when it comes to familiarity and interest in doing things in the metaverse. Not only do they own more metaverse goods (VR headsets and devices, cryptocurrencies or NFTs) than other generations, but 62% said they would like to do things in the metaverse.

But that doesn’t mean brands should jump into new technologies like NFTs and crypto without a strategy, Wallinger said. “Fashion influencers like me always share when there’s a new brand that can be bought via crypto,” she said. “Being part of this group of early adopters can be fun and exciting – there’s a rarity and rarity to that – but you need to be very clear about your Web3 strategy. It doesn’t make sense for a brand that doesn’t really play in metaverse spaces to have cryptocurrency as some sort of token offering. It makes a lot of sense for a brand like Gucci, however, that’s all about the metaverse. They have game items, NFTs, and you can buy stuff from their store, as well as I believe online, with cryptocurrency. Crypto is a natural next step for them.

Myth #2: The Metaverse requires a whole new set of skills

The truth: The fundamentals of good marketing and good retailing hold true in the metaverse – it’s just a new way to engage.

“As in all good retail – keep it simple, stay consistent and focused”, Wallinger said. “It’s not about trying to be something new; it’s about connecting in a new way. All of these great processes for getting people to fall in love with your brand through purchase behavior, and even browsing behavior, are valid in the metaverse. In a way, the new Chief Marketing Officer is a Chief Metaverse Officerin the sense that [Web3] it is in a way to cannibalize these different points through the transmission of the brand to the consumer, and to update them to become more integrative and relevant [in this new space].”

Hiring the right people to do this is important, but according to Wallinger, that doesn’t mean just focusing on developers or tech experts: “The smartest game is to have amazing creatives on your team.” That said, having someone on the team who is immersed in the world of Web3 is also crucial.

“It’s really important to understand how people discover your brand on this platform, so it’s good to have a guide – people who can help interpret the real of the transactional and help verify how your brand presents itself” , she added. .

Matching the right platform to the right purpose can take a lot of work, but it’s necessary so that in five to 10 years, when more people are onboarded, you’ll have a stake in the virtual field. “Even for things like buying land in the metaverse, you want to make sure you’re on the ‘right block’ in quotes, so having these guides that have been working for a while and can help interpret how, where and why is really important.”

Wendy’s compared her entry into the metaverse to the adventures of famous explorers Lewis and Clark.

One of the best places to look for this talent is in the game world, as the process of creating engaging metaverse experiences often happens in parallel. For example, most video games start out easy and get harder; metaverse experiences should do the same, especially since most visitors are new to these spaces. “There needs to be something they can easily conquer so they don’t feel the frustration of getting into something that’s too difficult,” Wallinger advised.

We are currently in the stage of decorating the windows – it’s that feeling of having something that’s easy to understand but then has layers of complexity,” she added. “If you looked at the windows of Simon Doonan [known for his displays for Barneys New York], you knew there was so much behind it, but it could also be a very simple dress you look at. These same types of layers are really critical in the metaverse.

For example, Wallinger pointed out Wendy’s recent activation in Horizon Worlds. “What was the coolest thing was how people helped each other figure out the rules of the game and find different paths,” she said. “I think it’s really exciting for retail because it has this group feeling of ‘Let’s solve this together’ under the Wendy’s banner. There’s this opportunity to both educate a consumer about Web3’s capabilities and make them feel welcome and relevant..”

Myth #3: The metaverse is about escaping the real world

The truth: Some of the best metaverse experiences to date have driven brand engagement IRL.

In April 2022, Chipotle launched a game in Roblox who played online conversations about how to roll restaurant burritos was as complex as playing a video game. The Chipotle Burrito Builder let fans try for themselves and earn an in-game currency called Burrito Bucks in the process.

The Chipotle Burrito Builder game in Roblox.
The Chipotle Burrito Builder game in Roblox.

The first one 100,000 players who successfully rolled a burrito got something else – a coupon for real-world chipotle entry. Not only that, but Chipotle also launched a new menu item to coincide with the Roblox experience – a personalized burrito based on fan feedback via Twitter that Chipotle Rewards members could order for a limited time. “We blend metaverse and real-world elements of our brand to take the Chipotle fan experience to a whole new level.Chipotle chief marketing officer Chris Brandt explained in a statement announcing the game.

This combination of virtual and real experiences was a great example of the kind of interoperability which Wallinger said many of the brands she works with seek to achieve: “There’s a moment of entering the metaverse to experience a brand, to become more intimate and experiential, and then you come out and that digital experience is transmitted into a real moment that you can physically engage with.

Another recent example of a brand merging the two worlds is Starbucks‘ New NFT-based loyalty program. “[With this program] they say, ‘You are already part of our group. Now come with us as we join in this metaverse talk or go into the metaverse on our behalf,” Wallinger noted.

This type of virtual speech can also offer powerful insights into the real world. Wallinger and the Publicis Sapient study underline the require signals that brands can gather from user behavior in the metaverse as a strong use case for Web3 activations.

“There’s a ton of independent creativity the consumer can share with you and a ton of learning you can learn from things like how players personalize virtual goods,” Wallinger said. “For example, if Vans has a hat in Roblox, how do customers wear that hat? What colors do they choose? Why do they choose to appropriate a brand in a certain space? It’s smart for retailers, even if they don’t enter the metaverse, to take the time to see what shopping styles and behaviors are like in this ecosystem. »

Bonus Myth: The Metaverse is a Boys’ Club

Wallinger ended our interview with one final thought, and we’ll end this story with the same: “The future is bright for the women of Web3,” she said. “I’m really advocating for this because there aren’t a lot of women in this space. Especially if you’re a female retailer, you already have a lot of skills to dive into this space. I’m not a technologist, I don’t come from any technical background here, but there are so many different ways to overlap, and we need good retail brains in the space.

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