A metaphor to try to explain the new evolution of the internet is how we could define the metaverse. And also a new digital reality in which people can interact with each other through avatars in different contexts. The metaverse is still a leap forward from the internet we know by incorporating an unprecedented generation of immersive parameters in usability, interaction, traceability and business models.
A clarification ahead: there is only one metaverse and many platforms, such as Decentraland, Roblox, The Sandbox and Horizon Worlds, among the main ones. Each of them operates with different engines, rules, interfaces and economic models. They have their own rules. Furthermore, there is no interconnectivity or interoperability between them: avatars or objects cannot be moved from one platform to another.
There is a single metaverse and many platforms, such as Decentraland, Roblox, The Sandbox, and Horizon Worlds.
“What there is now will not be anything like what there will be in five years. We are before a proof of concept of what is to come. At this time, there are not several metaverses, but one, but there are different platforms where we do perceive a relationship with the high-end industry, for example, personalization or developing the value of the aspirational from an earlier age, thus democratizing access to excellence”, said Nacho de Pinedo, CEO and co-founder of the ISDI business school. And the setting where Círculo Fortuny, the main Spanish association for the high-end industry, celebrated Fortuny Day on February 7 with the aim of positioning luxury brands at the forefront of technology.
And it is that to this the new World nine out of ten luxury brands also want to join, according to the event, who want to find in the metaverse a unique opportunity to dialogue with their community and experiment, aligned with the purpose of the brand and its storytelling. In short, to establish a new and personalized experience in its relationship with the consumer.
Brands have an opportunity to infuse their DNA into the metaverse: to reach an audience, grow and experiment, in the short term; and to establish new distribution channels and business models, in other words, to develop a new mentality, in the long term. Where to start? Esteban Ordano, co-founder of Decentraland, provided advice on his participation in Fortuny Day. “I would start by making my own wearables, digital clothing items, the most monetizable at the moment. And then I would try to do a kind of marketing campaign in these virtual worlds around some event with co-creators or artists.
Other customer experience
The customer feels much better represented in the metaverse than in other digital realities. While a conventional social network presents a flat 2D reality, in the virtual world the user can show his personality and express himself. Hence, this is so interesting for brands that work with the essence of the consumer’s personality.
On the other hand, immersion in virtual worlds allows high-end brands to build links with new consumer communities, including generations Y and Z. Not surprisingly, according to a recent report by Bain & Company, these generations they represented 67% of the sales of luxury goods in 2022.
Young consumers want to collaborate in co-creation with their favorite brands
Young consumers want to collaborate in co-creation with their favorite brands, to be part of their history. Nike has already allowed them to personalize their sneakers to sell them. This forces the brands themselves to strike a balance between creative control and democratization. In addition, new ways of buying are established: virtual stores that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
However, the development of the metaverse is not exclusively aimed at the younger generations (so accustomed to the digital worlds of the e games), but this new virtual reality represents an ally for all ages, as its use is easier and more intuitive than any mobile application where there may be a generational digital gap.
Digital and physical assets
Brands like Puig Beauty & Fashion already have experience in developing their strategy in the metaverse, such as “joining art, fashion, the retail and the technology to create a physical exhibition and, in parallel, a virtual one in Decentraland, where consumers (of Paco Rabanne) could buy an NFT that later led to the creation of a physical dress”, exemplified Vanita Sabnani, Vice President of Transformation, Puig Strategy and Innovation.
Fashion shows in the metaverse, virtual auctions (Christie’s or Sotheby’s) or the acquisition of NFTs (digital assets) that are subsequently awarded in the physical world are just the first steps for high-end brands in this new order. Where, before entering, you have to define what you want to do and how, what is the target audience, the investment and the return, in order to test innovation pilots to develop a long-term strategy.
“Brands have the opportunity to export their DNA in Web 3.0 in a way that hasn’t been done well before,” said Nelly Mensah, Head of Web 3.0. and Metaverse by LVMH. 3D content is becoming more and more prevalent and can be used, not only on metaverse platforms like Decentreland, but also on the e-commerce.
“Louis Vuitton created 3D models of sneakers and used them on his microsite, his website and on holographic screens during an exhibition with Virgil Abloh and Nike in Brooklyn. On the other hand, Sephora organized a virtual beauty festival where customers could meet the founders of their favorite brands and influencers and buy products. They could also attend the event”, exemplified the Head of Web 3.0. and Metaverse by LVMH.
Brands have the opportunity to export their DNA in Web 3.0 in a way that hasn’t been done well before.”
It is clear that a safe and effective way to experiment with technologies blockchain is to unite physical and digital products to offer customer experiences phygital (physical-digital). That is why Louis Vuitton used the blockchain Aura, developed by the firm’s team, Prada and Cartier, to track the path of diamonds in their latest jewelry collection. Customers could thus follow the journey of their precious stones from the mine to the final product. There are more examples. “Tiffany partnered with Cryptopunks to issue 250 NFTiffs. Buyers could redeem their NFT for a physical pendant from a Cryptopunk they owned,” shared Nelly Mensah.
On this new game board, El Corte Inglés also wants a metaversal life. “We are working on a complete 3D collection for our clients as, in the future, we aspire to sell a physical asset, such as a jacket, at the same time that this item reaches the buyer digitally in the form of NFTs for the metaverse”, Mauro announced. Fuentes, Transformation manager at El Corte Inglés. This will allow brands not only to change the collections and their way of presenting themselves, but also to follow “all the traceability of the product, from the creation of the artisan, adding value to the shopping experience”, he assures.
also with art
Technology is equally at the service of art, which now has new means to increase creativity. Many artists are waiting for the development of the metaverse to launch. “We are at a time when artists can dream thanks to technology; Today it is possible to reproduce visits to the Colosseum or go into places of ancient Rome to be inspired”, pointed out Carmen Huerta, Digital Art Curator. Roberto Romero, Accenture’s Metaverse Continuum Creative Technologist, also wanted to highlight the value of the union of the virtual and the real. “It is important for brands to understand what the metaverse is and who their target audience is. We must not only focus the conversation on the 3D world, but also on the development of artificial intelligence or telecommunications”.