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5 business strategies to the Metaverse

Selling a piece of land in virtual Paris. Enabling your customers to attend a live K-pop concert from their bedroom. Exploring user-created planets where your brand NFTs are sold for millions of dollars.

A lot has been said recently about the metaverse.

Especially since Mark Zuckerberg announced its newly branded company, Meta.

News. Articles. Reports. Video reactions on Youtube. 

There is a tonne of material on the subject, and yet, perhaps you’re still wondering how this arguably hyped metaverse concept would translate into your business objectives.

That is: your digital strategy, your CX and ultimately, your company’s growth and revenue. Although there is still little consensus on what the real business implications of this will be like, the aim of this essay is to offer you practical insights. A sort of digital business quick reference. To what could be easily one of the game changers in the customer experience of the future.

What is the Metaverse?

Simply put: the metaverse is a network of virtual worlds that will be the successors of the web as we know it today.

Those virtual worlds will be real-time “places” instead of web pages or apps. This metaverse will be accessed through what is considered XR (extended reality: a combination of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality). And just like you cannot invest in “the Internet” as an entity, you cannot identify the metaverse as just one unique digital world or product. 

One might think it really sounds like what the video game industry is going towards, but the implications of the metaverse for your business go far beyond just video games. The impact of technology on culture and economy moves in leaps and bounds.

Stats and Forecasting

Here are some stats and forecasting about what’s to come in this market: According to a July 2021 Wunderman Thompson Data survey, 61% of global respondents agree that their livelihood depends on technology.

A PwC analysis shows that Augmented Reality applications are expected to reach, by the end of the decade, a contribution of over $1 trillion dollars to global GDP. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Coca-cola or Epic Games have announced they are building a metaverse.

Google (Alphabet) is working on WebXR, which is AR and VR experiences designed for the web. Facebook has shifted from a social media company to a metaverse company, and they have announced there are 10.000 Facebook employees working on AR and VR within the Reality Labs department.

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, recently claimed that the company is working towards an “enterprise metaverse”.

A 2021 Wunderman Thompson report shows that, in words of Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, 93% of global consumers agree that technology is our future, 76% say that their everyday lives and activities depend on it and over half (52%) claim their happiness depends on it.

 

According to GlobalData, by 2025, the gaming market could become a $300 billion industry, increasingly replacing TV, old media and entertainment, generating far more revenue than the film industry itself.

Taking into account the mentioned figures and forecasting, it looks like we are quite likely to spend “some” time in this alternative reality in the future. And in order to attract new customers to your business, you need to be where those customers live and spend time. Today, more than ever, businesses need to plan ahead, understand rapid cultural change and design for increasingly changing customer behaviour.

 

Here are 5 bite-sized business ideas from Emark about what the metaverse could mean for your digital business and growth:

1. Brand co-creation and content leverage

The metaverse could unleash exponential creative freedom of your customers and make branding a shared experience. We live in the era of “communities”. But the metaverse will take that concept one step beyond. Just like Youtube, Minecraft or Wikipedia are co-authored and built by its users, your business can leverage the creative freedom of the metaverse. How? By empowering customers. Making them the protagonists so that you can build loyalty and community, having a limitless sales funnel that works for you 24/7.  An example: A business like AirBnB could let their users create and visit virtual models of the cities they have visited during their travels. AirBnB customers would design highlighted landmarks, spot recommendations, etc and the hosts could charge for both reality and mixed reality experiences. It is AirBnB customers who do the work and become the travel guides, not the company itself. The users’ creations contribute to AirBnB’s branding and perceived market positioning.

2. Context-relevant experiences with Mixed Reality

The metaverse doesn’t necessarily mean using just Virtual Reality to build your customer experience. It’s not all about game-like planets, monsters and cyberpunk sci-fi. Computer generated graphics is just one version of it.

Extended Reality, using both Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality, will play a massive role in this revolution.

Augmented Reality means having objects as an overlay layer on top of the real world. Like when in Pokemon GO, you can see a cute Pikachu floating in your living room.

Mixed Reality combines the digital with the physical. So instead of a Pikachu just floating on top of your TV, the pokemon could be hidden behind the television, sitting on a chair, etc.

Here’s an example of how this could be applied to a real business: The language learning app Duolingo could create immersive mixed reality experiences to improve the effectiveness of their language courses. It’s Sunday morning.

You enrol in an online English course on the Duolingo app while you have your morning latte.

As you head off to the beach in sunny Barcelona, to do your yoga training routine, a real-time hologram of another student from France (who is herself learning Spanish on the app) appears.

You guys can work out together in real time, practising and learning the words relevant for that specific experience in both languages (e.g: training, workout, stretch, etc) practising your language while you train next to each other, in real time.

3. Welcome technological freedom

Just like the web revolutionised the world by being accessible, open and relatively “free”, so will the metaverse. It’s almost inevitable.

Innovative brands need to let go of “full control” and the concept that the brand is the ultimate gatekeeper (e.g: controlling access to the products, design of the brand, features of your services, centralisation of everything).

Video games understand this decentralised and user-owned concept very well (e.g: think of Fortnite or League of Legends). In order to achieve real penetration and business leverage, the metaverse of your brand might need to follow a “freemium” business model.

Users will be part of it, like citizens of your brand worlds, owning those worlds, and then you will be able to charge them for access to specific sections, content, products, etc.

Just like free-to-play games build an ecosystem where they can socialise, play, chat together, and only pay micro-transactions for certain assets.

4. Digital Products and Services

One of the best ways to generate revenue and increase LT of your customers is to expand your value ladder. That is, the products and services that your company offers.

The metaverse will allow your business to create more than just digital versions of your products and services.

In the same way the internet brought infoproducts, SaaS, online courses, etc, in the metaverse, you might be able to sell products that have not been imagined yet.

Some examples:

  •  A fitness business could offer real-time coaching sessions where an expert coach in a hologram helps you with running technique while you do your daily jog.
  • Digital clothing items for your virtual avatars: clothes customers can own and use anywhere they go in the metaverse.
  • A freelance architect designing a digital house that can be moved anywhere.

 

And no, these examples are not too far. They are actually real!

5. Build once, sell multiple times

One of the best qualities of anything digital for a business, similar to current code or online media, software, etc, is that it has infinite leverage. You build it once, and you can sell it multiple times.

Perpetually.

Think of how many views a Miley Cyrus music video has on Youtube. How many times Kanye West’s music is listened to on Spotify. How many users have bought a Microsoft Office licence.

Just like software or a good video game only has to be created once, so can your brand with your metaverse worlds and creations. 

If you combine this with making your users the protagonists (user generated content), you have infinite leverage at nearly zero marginal cost.

Conclusion

According to venture capitalist Mathew Ball, “there will no clean Before Metaverse
and After Metaverse”. No one can really predict how this technological trend will fall into place exactly. 

Just like it would have been impossible to predict what Google, Amazon or Facebook would turn into ten years ago.

What is true, though, is that the value of being one of the key participants and drivers of this upcoming revolution is evident.

At Emark, a Wunderman Thompson company, we help businesses build the

customer experience of the future with the latest marketing technology.

 

If you want to get more insights into the future of digital business, check out the following resources:


"Progress is impossible without change, and those  who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” 


    - George Bernard Shaw