Representative image (iStock)
Representative image (iStock)

Anupam Narula

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technology, and tech companies have taken this a step further to improve the user experience, eventually converging on the concept of the Metaverse. This is a concept coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992. His Metaverse project, which is in development by tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft, has gained worldwide popularity in the past year.

Mainstream awareness of the new concept of this digitized virtual world is growing due to its promising potential. Adopting this channel is essential to secure our future in a digital universe, some experts say. 2023 is predicted to be the year of the Metaverse Gold Rush. This is because assets such as cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are helping businesses and developers build the transactional foundation that supports the Metaverse.

While many global players are doing just that, some are reluctant to enter the metaverse. This is due to the bad reputation of cryptocurrencies, which are all in the cloud and often intertwined with the metaverse. will enjoy Most companies are interested in knowing how to make the metaverse work and making the most of its opportunities.

The answers to the questions below will help marketers and their organizations decide how to enter and design marketing strategies for the Metaverse era.

1. What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is the next version of the Internet that combines multiple virtual spaces and goes one step further from a 2D virtual world to a 3D virtual world, aiming for a high degree of interactivity, experience and gamification. . It allows customers to combine virtual and mixed reality via a browser or headset for real-time interactions and experiences, even from a distance.

This digitization movement is beginning to blur the lines between the physical and virtual worlds. If a company is trying to target his 15- to 30-year-old digital audience, they’re probably in the metaverse, not social media. For example, the concept of the metaverse is a new kind of platform like Roblox, Decentraland, Sandbox, Fortnite, Minecraft.

2. How can companies enter the metaverse?

Businesses and brands can slowly take small steps to bring consumers into the metaverse. How far you dive into this space is a company’s choice. Now is the right time to adopt a test-and-learn mindset, be open to experimenting in the metaverse, and capitalize on your successes.

The most prudent companies can start by incorporating the metaverse into their current familiar marketing strategies and place things in place by replicating the physical world into the digital universe. Companies that want to dive a little deeper into the space can test their products and services in the digital space. Metaverse users are very open to new experiences and new things they want to try, and businesses can build on that according to the tastes of their target consumers.

For example, this is starting to happen through virtual 3D manuals, digital travel guides of the world, tours of hotel rooms, virtual shopping for furniture, and experiences of future mobility solutions. “Hyundai Mobility Adventure” is Roblox’s first virtual experience developed by the global automotive brand to showcase the future mobility lifestyle in the Metaverse.

Another example is to facilitate social interaction, allowing users to create virtual worlds using digital objects that are replicas of real objects and interact with digital avatars of other community members. 3D virtual environment “Decentraland” created. In this metaverse-like platform, everything from jackets to cars to even real estate will be generated and traded using the native digital token MANA.

3. How can businesses benefit from the Metaverse?

Businesses and brands can benefit from the metaverse by improving the user experience for their customers, looking to deepen customer loyalty, engage with target audiences in new ways, and grow revenue. The Metaverse helps businesses understand the emotions and body language of their consumers and maintain the same emotional connection they have in the physical world.

Business operations such as lending and borrowing, viewing and buying real estate can also be expected to occur through blockchain-based asset NFTs. Businesses can also advertise or market themselves in the metaverse through banners and sponsor or host events. In the future, the Metaverse could revolutionize the way organizations and consumers interact with products, services, and each other, resulting in more inspiring, real, and natural experiences.

For example, museums and galleries host digital art exhibitions, artists open metaverse galleries, sell NFTs to customers who want 3D models of their own work, and viewers use virtual reality headsets. you can enjoy the show.

As another example, sports maker Nike, which sells lifestyles, has built a metaverse space called Nikeland. This space will allow fans to meet, interact, participate in promotions, and participate in all kinds of brand experiences using the Roblox platform. According to the company, 7 million visitors have used Nikeland since its launch in November 2021. They enjoy sports star celebrity appearances and purchase exclusive digital products to adorn their avatars. Each visitor to “Nikeland” also becomes the manager of his own “garden”. This is your personal space within Nikeworld where you can show off your collectibles and decorate to suit your personality.

4. What are the challenges of the metaverse?

Various challenges must be overcome before the metaverse becomes fully functional. First, the ‘interoperability’ between numerous platforms from different vendors must be integrated to act as a unanimous universe rather than distributed platforms. Another challenge is the technology that makes up the metaverse. Companies are rushing to develop the latest technology to enhance the Metaverse experience, but it is currently neither user-friendly nor affordable, limiting adoption.

The Metaverse also poses new challenges around data collection and protection, as well as cybersecurity and privacy. Security is paramount as the new, decentralized digital world may offer malicious agents new entry points for attack. Authenticity and trust must be at the core to reduce the misinformation that has often plagued the Internet.

Companies that create trusted metaverse experiences and protect their privacy rights gain consumer loyalty and help them stay on top of metaverse trends to predict consumer preferences and buying behavior. The advantage may shift to companies that provide a reliable way for users to enter the metaverse (through hardware or software). This will require rules for trusted digital identities, rules for user engagement, rules for how the metaverse itself changes over time, and enforcement mechanisms such as tax collection, data governance, and regulatory compliance. .

5. Will the Metaverse stick?

WeChat, YouTube, Instagram, omnichannel commerce, new immersive retail, entertainment, sports and physical The shift to influencer marketing on platforms such as innovations in both physical and physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical transactions will lead to future metaverse growth. Post-pandemic consumer expectations have changed dramatically, expecting companies to deliver highly innovative experiences quickly. They want to be confined to the constraints of the physical world and tend to see the metaverse space brand as innovative.

Finally, the Metaverse has great future potential, stay here. To create value across their organization, business leaders must think through the potential strategic impact of the metaverse on sales, operations, production, R&D, and human resources. Companies and brands that plan and execute today will benefit most from the future of the Metaverse.

(The author is a professor of marketing at Amity University. Views expressed are personal.)

The Middle East and Africa appear to be the fastest growing markets for the automotive metaverse due to huge investments in the region. The Asia-Pacific region is also expected to see high demand due to the presence of automotive OEMs and software start-ups. India needs to step up its game to take the lead.

The Metaverse does not belong to one prominent technology giant. It’s a world where all new-age technologies come together to create a virtual world that works just as well as the real world.

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