The metaverse is the latest hot tech topic, with businesses like Facebook and Microsoft both emerging as leading figures in this space. The Metaverse revenue opportunities on live events, ads, social commerce, and hardware are projected to reach over $1 trillion according to JPMorgan, and $800 billion according to Bloomberg.

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” in 2018 was an out-of-this-world movie where the concept of a ‘virtual world’ was futuristic and excited the public about the possibility of a ‘metaverse’. Fast forward to 2021 and Facebook has just announced they will be launching Metaverse in the near future with many big brands and organisations hopping on the bandwagon.

What is the metaverse?

The term “metaverse” was coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” in which he created lifelike avatars who met in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.

A metaverse is a shared virtual space that is hyper-realistic, immersive, and interactive with the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology.

Put simply, augmented reality utilises a real-world setting whereas virtual reality is set in a completely virtual world. The former can control their presence in the real world whereas the latter is controlled by the system.

Both technologies require electronic devices to facilitate the function, but VR can only be accessed using a headset whereas AR can be easily controlled with a smartphone.

Within a metaverse, there can be several different virtual worlds where you can engage in physical and digital activities, with the idea that you can be ‘inside’ of all your online experiences. For example, meeting friends or getting a coffee and even to the extent of getting official paperwork done!

Benefits of the metaverse

The idea of a metaverse comes with lots of benefits. One element is the elimination of geographical barriers, with distance or location essentially not existing.  Meeting people with similar interests from across the world in the comfort of your own home could be a reality.

Metaverse technology could even provide an immersive working experience. Working from home would be a completely different experience, with a 3D visually designed environment as well as being able to converse with colleagues just like we would in real life.

Downside of the metaverse

As with most technological developments, there is the potential for cyber security breaches and privacy concerns for businesses.

As the metaverse is still under development, there is currently no guarantee of any safety or security of these emerging platforms, making cybercrime a factor that could make consumers and businesses reluctant to join. This technology may be seen by some as a gateway for illegal activities such as money laundering.

Another concern is the negative cultural and social impacts that the metaverse has the potential to create. With geographical boundaries being non-existent in the metaverse, there are concerns that immediate cultural societies may begin to become lost or forgotten and cultural diversity may begin to fade out.

Why shouldn’t businesses ignore the metaverse?

The metaverse can be simply defined as a collection of digital platforms that facilitate businesses and users to interact virtually while also including cryptocurrencies and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) as a mode of transaction. Gaming platforms such as Roblox and Hyperverse have successfully integrated into the metaverse which has, as a result, accelerated their growth.

With the metaverse gaining traction with organisations around the globe, it could be a financial disaster for brands to ignore these virtual revolutions with the value it is expected to reach.

Cryptocurrency can pave the way for new modes of transactions. Organisations such as Starbucks and Twitch are accepting cryptocurrency to purchase their products whilst countries like Canada and Israel have allowed the virtual currency to be utilised as a legal tender.

The growing phenomenon indicates that the world is moving toward the metaverse, and businesses need to prepare for this evolution. The pandemic has led the way for remote-working and the virtual world will provide the right platform for organisations and brands to connect with their audience and build them through a virtual model.

Future of Marketing?

Metaverse was a trending term on all social media accounts across the world. Brands that employ marketing techniques  will look to grow their business in the metaverse as it allows fast and new solutions to connect with consumers.

The WSJ reported that Vans launched a virtual skatepark in Roblox for their users to try new tricks which allows them to earn points to redeem in the virtual store to customise their avatar.

The luxury brand, Gucci released an exclusive digital pair of sneakers called The Gucci Virtual 25 that “can be ‘worn’ in augmented reality (AR) or used in partnered apps like Roblox and VRChat.” They sell for $12.99 on the platforms.

Dimension studios experimented with the metaverse for their fashion brands. This resulted in revenue of $6.5 million dollars and was made possible by establishing a virtual production set-up for their users.

These are a number of  many marketing strategies adopted by brands to grow and engage with their audience in the metaverse. However, organisations need to consider that accessibility can still be an issue as close to 3 billion people, or 37% population of the world, has never used the internet.

The metaverse is sure to affect how brands market their products to the audience and only time will reveal the outcome of it.

Is the metaverse worth for businesses?

The metaverse may turn out to be the biggest revolution for the world since the creation of the internet.

Several sectors such as e-commerce and entertainment may be able to provide an immersive virtual experience for people without the barrier of being physically present.

For example, entertainment businesses could profit from the metaverse by using it to provide the audience with concerts in the virtual world where anyone placed anywhere can attend at any time and any place around the world.

The metaverse can offer a brand-new way of promoting products and services, whether that be marketing and advertising strategies, interactive customer experiences or visualised shops.

Further to this, the consumer could see, hold, or even feel the product which could ultimately  lead to a product or service being sold via the metaverse.

With the metaverse constantly developing, it is hard to imagine how the future may look.

The idea and the potential is that everything we can do it real life can be done in the metaverse, from the comfort of your own home.

For more information on the metaverse and how it may impact PR and marketing moving forward, contact the Faith team here.