Metaverse as a term gained mainstream popularity when Facebook changed its name to Meta in 2021 but the term has a rather long history. In fact, it dates back to 1838 when Sir Charles Wheatstone outlined the concept of ‘binocular vision’! For our context, we’ll stick to the 21st century where ‘the metaverse’ is being discussed across tech and enterprise boardrooms.
In layman’s terms, the metaverse is an immersive internet or a digital twin to the real world where people can have ‘real experiences’ in the virtual world. Consider Nikeland as an example. A virtual simulation where a person can experience all of Nike’s experiences and more in an immersive way.
For some, this may seem too outlandish but the future is closer than it seems. Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the Metaverse by 2026. “Vendors are already building ways for users to replicate their lives in digital worlds,” said Marty Resnick, VP of Research at Gartner. “From attending virtual classrooms to buying digital land and constructing virtual homes, these activities are currently being conducted in separate environments. Eventually, they will take place in a single environment – the metaverse – with multiple destinations across technologies and experiences.”
Use Cases for the Changing Face of Customer Experience in the Metaverse
There are infinite possibilities in the virtual world. Just like the Nikeland example above, there are several ways in which a brand can engage with customers in a digital landscape:
- Imagine a furniture store giving a completely virtual 3d experience to the degree of simulation as to how it’d feel when a customer sits on a particular kind of chair!
- Apparel & Fashion is the biggest segment where brands can design various kinds of experiences. A Wipro study says that “If consumers could experience products in AR, 71% would return less often and 40% would pay more.”
- Hyper Real Virtual Events: After the pandemic, events have become hybrid and in the metaverse, events can take an entirely new avatar where authenticated digital identities are interacting with brands and real transactions are happening.
- Reaching New Audiences: There are more people on the metaverse than one might imagine. Consider the South Korean platform Zepeto which launched in 2018 and already sold 2 billion pieces on its metaverse where fashion giant Zara hosts some of its specialized products (more on this). While in India, there have been weddings happening in the Metaverse! (imagine the entire marriage commerce industry in the virtual world.)
5. The metaverse is another major channel for customer support. Like social media, people are bound to share their feedback about a brand in the metaverse, and in effect, it becomes a touch point for a brand to provide customer support.
Rise of Gamification, Avatars, and Challenges
A key element of the entire metaverse is ‘gamification’. Creating a digital twin to the real world and embedding various dimensions to make it as real as possible. Like Nikeland, Hyundai’s Mobility Adventure is another game on Roblox (watch video) which is Hyundai’s first virtual experience developed by a global automotive brand to showcase future mobility lifestyles in the metaverse. The campaign aims to attract young people familiar with Hyundai Motor products, technologies, brands, and future solutions.
But the Metaverse is much more than building a game! There are innumerable challenges on the way:
- High cost of investment: Hosting experiences, investing in technology, hiring technology talent, and maintaining online security is a massive investment.
- Securing identities: With each person having an avatar and financial transactions happening, handling user data and ensuring authentication is an absolutely critical part of the strategy.
- Different geographies, different rules: The metaverse is a single playground with people from all over the world but the physical world is not as fluid. Rules of commerce have been defined for the physical world but it is still very much in progress in the metaverse.
- Rethinking org structures: The Metaverse will be an entirely new setup for retail brands dealing in physical stores and eCommerce. What is the job of a salesperson in the Metaverse? What kind of skill sets are required? Where do you hire these people? All these are relevant questions that’ll come up as a brand enters the Metaverse.
What does it mean for a Brand?
As a brand, standing by the sideline is never an option if one wants to grow. The kind of activity around the metaverse and the interest from young people are humungous! This is where the future is and as a brand, it is absolutely critical to have a plan of action in place. From our conversations with several top brands across the world, here are some suggestions from Capillary to plan your entry:
- Study the market, watch competition: Some progressive brands have made heavy investments already and for someone watching from the sidelines, it’d be critical to hire an expert just for a market study and get a sense of the returns or results of the early pilots (contact us).
- Zero in on your target audience: There is a very specific but diverse set of customers on the Metaverse. It is important to get a pulse of this audience and see whether this is your target market. What are your products that would be appealing to the young uber tech savvy Metaverse audience? What are their values? What are they looking for?
- Have a plan of action: The Metaverse is here to stay. The world is going digital at an unimaginable speed and it is of utmost importance to have a plan of action. After the research, see if you can carve out a small budget for the Metaverse and start out with a pilot. Dedicate a small team or a few hours from everyone within a team responsible for initiatives in the metaverse.
- Start small, start right: It’s okay to start small and start late but it’d be worth it if the first three points are in place. Decide a platform you want to experiment on, run some simulations, and kick off with your pilot!
The Metaverse provides ample space for delivering a great customer experience and for a brand, at the end of the day, this is what it is all about.