The Metaverse: what brands need to know for the future
Denis Sinelnikov is the CEO of Media Components and Curis Digital, an award-winning full-service digital marketing agency.
It’s time to take a new look at the metaverse. We have seen several advances as more companies look to enter this digital realm. And what is more important, consumers are becoming more familiar with the term. As our agency continually keeps the pulse of new technologies and is increasingly involved in the metaverse, we have done our share of research on how brands can get into this new frontier in practical ways.
So how is people’s opinion of the metaverse shaping up, and what do brands need to know as they begin their journey?
revisiting the metaverse
First, let’s review what the metaverse is. The author Neal Stephenson first coined the term in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In it, he imagined people adopting realistic avatars and interacting with a realistic digital world. Today’s reality isn’t far from Stephenson’s vision, thanks in large part to online games like Roblox, Fortnight, and Minecraft.
However, online gaming is just the tip of the iceberg of what the metaverse can do. While the growing popularity of gaming is helping companies develop the technology needed for a full metaverse and raising awareness among consumers about the idea, the companies that invest in the technology want it to be more than entertainment. Borrowing the name from a metaverse predecessor, these companies want it to be a second life.
What do consumers in the metaverse think so far?
Recently, hubspot published his Consumer Trends Report 2022. Although understanding and adoption of the metaverse is still low, it is growing. Importantly, the majority of the more than 1,000 US respondents have a positive view of the metaverse:
- 34% said the metaverse is the “future of technology.”
- 30% think that brands should open virtual stores.
- 28% believe that the metaverse is an extension of reality.
And what is more important, those who opt for the metaverse continue to use it. For them, the metaverse has become an important part of leisure and social activities, with 54% of users using the metaverse to play games and 46% to meet up with friends. For half of the users in the metaverse, connection is about authenticity. They feel more like themselves when they are in this virtual space.
While the metaverse has been plagued with controversy over the last year, mainly over its adjacent cryptocurrency and NFT technologies, that hasn’t hurt the overall picture of the metaverse. When it comes to data security, something that consumers are very concerned about, 53% of metaverse users feel confident that their information is safely stored in the metaverse.
What should brands know about the metaverse?
This overwhelmingly positive news may make you want to jump right into the metaverse. To be where the consumers are, after all. Although the news is exciting, the metaverse is largely new ground, and there’s a lot to consider before jumping into it. The complete list is exhaustive, but a few key points will help any brand prepare for the metaverse:
- The metaverse is not a single thing. Although the name change Facebook a Meta is a clear sign that the company wants to position itself well, the metaverse, like the rest of the Internet, is made up of multiple platforms.
- The metaverse continues to raise many questions about digital privacy, digital property and intellectual rights, and regulations around digital commerce and advertising.
- While the programs virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been tested in games for several years, their usefulness for e-commerce is largely untested, and most e-commerce in the metaverse is limited to gaming or cryptocurrency and NFT.
The technology is new; the metaverse, no
The metaverse did not emerge in recent years. Although we haven’t arrived at a unified metaverse, has existed for a long time. Brands you may not have realized are metaverse platforms include niantic (Pokemon Go), Roblox and Microsoft. We’re already there, just not with all the technologies and platforms we expect to use.
My key takeaways based on the findings of the report hubspot as brands look towards adoption to the metaverse:
- Make data security a priority. Although general opinion about the metaverse has not been negatively affected by the recent controversies that have accompanied the cryptocurrency sector, that does not mean that consumers are not wary.
- Know your target audience. The metaverse is young and so are its main adopters. However, keep in mind that much of Generation Z is already adult or approaching adulthood, and millennials are already established householders. This is not something for children. Users of the metaverse are sophisticated and diverse.
- Know the platforms. Even when we reach a unified metaverse, it’s likely that people will continue to interact with it through the platforms they’re most familiar with, much like they now interact with the Internet and social media. As with social media, not every platform in the metaverse will be an ideal fit for every brand or every industry. Understanding the key demographics of each platform and their capabilities will be just as important in the metaverse as it is in today’s iteration of the Internet.
- Don’t wait for a unified version of the metaverse to launch. If you do, you will fall behind your competitors. Instead, look at companies that already have their own metaverses and see what they can offer your brand or customers. Consider how your brand or customers may have matching target demographics with existing metaverses, and look for opportunities to bring your brand into those spaces, where consumers want them to be.
As we head into 2023, we are truly on the cusp of the new. The metaverse has a whole new virtual reality of experiences to share with brands and consumers. More importantly, consumers want to see the brands they know and trust in these virtual spaces. Companies that can position themselves and their customers in the metaverse will see their business grow. They just have to take the first step.