We all know a company’s brand is about so much more than what is on the website. In reality, it’s about how customers experience the company within every interaction, both online and offline. While most of us are thinking of interactions in the world we see today, due to emerging technologies, a whole other universe for customer experience is arriving. We call it the metaverse.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a three-dimensional digital version of our world with which we can interact. We first heard the word ‘metaverse’ in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. Today, due to emerging technologies, the metaverse is less science fiction novel and more a reality. People can now experience photorealistic, digital environments through new developments in a phenomenon we call extended reality (xR).
New developments in extended reality
Extended reality or xR is an umbrella term applied to all types of experiences that blend virtual and real worlds together. These include:
- Virtual reality experiences (entering a whole new world through wearing a VR headset)
- Augmented reality experiences (3D generated content existing in or augmenting the real world)
- Mixed reality experiences (real-time rendered content that completely immerses people in the virtual space)
In recent times, we have seen a significant rise in real-time graphics engines which create photorealistic illustrations for metaverse building. These are going well beyond entertainment into creating corporate and brand experiences. Additionally, the speed of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) and the affordability of the used LED canvases make the creation of the metaverse a lot easier.
Will the metaverse substitute the internet?
If you could predict how big the internet was going to be back in the 80s, would you have been one of the early adopters – creating platforms that are now worth millions?
How about social media? The brands that mobilised a social strategy back in the early 2000s are now reaping the benefits, while the ones that ignored it or left it in the hands of summer interns had to play catch up.
The metaverse is tipped by many, including the New York Times, the Economist and Forbes to be the successor to the internet as we know it today: a digital twin of our world, encountered in both augmented and virtual interconnected realities as a persistent and synchronous experience.
With its help, you’ll be able to translate digital experiences into the real world and vice versa. In fact, according to a new report, 73% of people would now choose to visit a brand home virtually rather than in person.
The metaverse already has its own economy, which will benefit individual creators within it. Blockchain technology is already getting involved with crypto-rich investors buying virtual real-estate. People are taking notice. You can now invest in the metaverse on the New York Stock Exchange. Bloomberg estimates that it is already worth $800 billion.
A move towards creating personalized experiences
The metaverse moves beyond traditional display advertising towards creating brand experiences, which are more engaging and less invasive. Brands can provide more tailored, personalised, and meaningful experiences, as the nature of the metaverse is uniquely experienced by every individual user in their own digital universe.
In the metaverse, digital experiences and items may be free or paid, and people are already interacting with them on digital platforms. In 2018 and 2019, Fortnite made more than $9 billion in revenue through selling virtual products within the game. Players were largely spending money to dress up in virtual outfits.
How are brands using the metaverse?
Not only is the digital world providing a potential new revenue stream, but it also translates into real-world sales. The metaverse is already being used by brands to create marketing campaigns that are engaging their customers and creating revenue streams for businesses.
There are many examples. Just recently, Balenciaga held virtual fashion shows. Gucci created digital-only products. Star Wars designed an island within the Fortnite game which allowed users to watch a film clip. Moreover, inside Fortnite, DJ Marshmello performed to 11 million virtual viewers.
Entering the new CX universe
This is just the beginning. Soon, the metaverse will be easily accessible for brands to use on their own platforms. They’ll only need the right digital solution and expertise to make it happen.
Therefore, my best advice for brands looking into the metaverse is to invest in the technology and create dedicated roles for designing metaverse experiences for customers. We are about to discover brand new worlds without stepping outside our front door. The metaverse is no illusion, it is real, and it is just taking off.