The metaverse consists of different virtual platforms, locations and digital interaction. In the metaverse, companies and other actors create spatial, experiential and social dimensions to their operations. Although the metaverse is still in the early stages of development, it’s important that companies consider the impact of this virtual dimension on their business. Karoliina Leisti from Stereoscape and Virpi Vaittinen from Loihde Factor discuss building a strategy for the metaverse from different perspectives.
What is a metaverse strategy?
Though often referred to as a technological revolution, it’s worth remembering that the metaverse is being built for people. Encounters, communities and shared experiences are at the heart of the metaverse. What kind of visibility are companies pursuing in the metaverse? To whom are services and messages targeted? On which platforms is the company present? Is the goal to reach existing or future customers, or to grow and improve business?
In addition to choosing the appropriate platforms and channels, a strategy for the metaverse is needed for seamless integration of the physical and virtual customer touchpoints. If the metaverse is seen more broadly as a virtual dimension of the company, the strategy should not only be considered from the perspective of marketing and communication, but also in terms of enhancing virtual learning and production, as well as a platform and sales channel for virtual products (i.e. assets) and shared experiences.
How can companies benefit from the metaverse?
We can already see various trends and different ways in which people use the metaverse. In the consumer sector, many are already familiar with cryptocurrencies and NFTs. International companies are buying real estate in the metaverse in order to build new marketing and sales channels, whereas the B2B sector and large industrial companies are virtualizing their processes, for instance, in production and training. The metaverse also offers platforms and opportunities for building more efficient public services.
For marketers, the metaverse offers new kinds of customer encounters and experiences, visibility and a platform for communicating with a new generation of consumers. Like previous internet revolutions, the metaverse will also create entirely new business opportunities. Technology companies that build metaverse platforms are selling virtual land and real estate to companies and individuals; international fashion brands are selling digital clothes for avatars used in games, and companies are creating new virtual meeting places for their staff and customers.
The pioneers of the metaverse
Especially B2C sectors and brands have a strong presence at the forefront of the metaverse. Such sectors as fashion, media, sports, food, retail and consumer technology started exploring the business opportunities of the metaverse at an early stage.
Luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry are looking for new ways to showcase their products and reach new audiences in the metaverse. Balenciaga sells virtual clothes to players of Fortnite, whereas Gucci, Adidas, Nike and Burberry have bought virtual land on the Sandbox platform. In the Sandbox, Gucci is planning to create an interactive extension to its Vault store, which offers curated collections and vintage products. Adidas, on the other hand, plans to use the Sandbox as an experiential marketing channel, where the company can showcase its NFT collections and exclusive brand content and also sell physical products. Walmart, the world’s largest retail chain, is planning to create its own virtual currency and an NFT collection for the metaverse.
However, businesses that sell directly to consumers aren’t alone in the metaverse. The industrial and B2B sectors also recognise possibilities in this new dimension of the internet. For instance, the Hong Kong branch of the accounting firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers has bought land in the Sandbox with the goal of finding new business models and ways to interact with its customers. Technology companies are investing not only in the building of metaverse platforms but also in marketing opportunities brought by the metaverse. For instance, Samsung has bought a virtual space in Decentraland, which is modelled after its flagship New York store. In the space, users can explore products, play games and follow other events.
What do Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton have in common with each other?
An increasing number of global celebrities have also moved into the metaverse. Lady Gaga has brought her music to Beat Saber, a VR rhythm game. Paris Hilton bought an island inside the Roblox game. The island has a virtual version of her Beverly Hills property, and for a fee, users can explore the island on a jet-ski ride, for instance. Snoop Dogg, in turn, built his virtual mansion on the Sandbox platform. The virtual world, called the Snoopverse, acts as an extension of the artist’s digital presence. Concerts, private parties and other events have been organised in the Snoopverse. The prices of VIP tickets to the virtual events have been close to $6,000, and a Snoop Dogg fan and NFT collector recently spent 450,000 dollars for a virtual piece of land located next door to their idol.
Metaversumi on uusi kohtaamispaikka, toimintatapa ja -kanava
Social interaction in a virtual world is one of the key ideas behind the metaverse. For the generations that have spent plenty of time in the gaming world, the idea of virtual world as an extension of the physical world feels natural, whereas older generations can be more sceptical and resist the idea. What added value can the spatial dimension bring to the internet and its existing social networks?
It’s important to remember that the metaverse or virtualisation isn’t intended to replace the physical reality, but it’s specifically built to act as an alternative channel to accompany existing channels and practices. Thus, the metaverse consists of not only more consumer-oriented and entertaining platforms but also of ways to harness new interactive technologies that aim to improve the efficiency of education and training as well as industry.
Experiences play a significant role in a metaverse strategy
During the pandemic, both work, leisure and consumption moved into the online environment. Working methods changed, and large-scale adoption of remote work was implemented successfully. After learning and adopting new ways of working, people have higher requirements for online services. Ease of use, smoothness and experiences are now also expected in the B2B world. Offering experiences helps to stand out in the intensifying competition: entertainment, stories and immersive experiences are appealing.
There has also been a shift in learning methods. The utilisation of interaction, gamification and virtual spaces has become more common in training, especially if the virtual world offers a safer and more efficient simulation compared to the physical world. Virtual reality has already been widely used in the safe training of surgeons, astronauts and pilots, as well as in safety training and the streamlining of various industrial processes.
Virtualisation is part of a metaverse strategy
From VR to 5G, the technologies enabling the metaverse not only provide new marketing channels and meeting places but also the opportunity to update and create more efficient services, processes and practices. When planning a metaverse strategy specifically for streamlining operations, the company should first do research, experiment and decide which functions will be virtualise and also consider what business or operational benefits virtualisation will bring to the company or its customer. Virtualisation can bring significant benefits, for instance, in the form of faster learning or working, fewer mistakes or a more committed customer.
‘Some companies are already well advanced in developing virtual solutions. They already see the benefits and don’t need any more reasons for virtualisation.’
Head of Customer Success, Stereoscape
Both international and domestic companies are at very different stages on their paths to virtualisation. Training in the virtual reality or utilising augmented reality is routine for some, while others are only just learning about the opportunities that the metaverse offers. Success stories about utilising virtual technologies are beginning to accumulate not only in the field of sales and marketing but also in production, maintenance, training and onboarding.
For instance, The Finnish company Valmet has used augmented reality to showcase its equipment and processes, whereas Hitachi Hi-Tech Analytical Science has created augmented reality maintenance instructions, which are also used to demonstrate the benefits of virtual technologies more widely within the global organisation.
Staff enthusiasm is the key to creating a successful strategy for the metaverse
The ever-accelerating pace of technological development, unexpected world events and changes in the operating environment create a continuous pressure for change and require tremendous flexibility and resilience both from companies and individuals. If sufficient attention isn’t paid to training and building commitment to the new practices during the change process, the organisation can sometimes miss great opportunities for development. Each company is unique, but all companies are made of people. That is why people are also at the heart of the metaverse strategy: both as end users and part of the company using the metaverse.
When planning a metaverse strategy, both business and technological opportunities must be considered, as well as the human hopes, fears and challenges related to the adoption of new technologies. How do we get employees excited about new opportunities? How to involve employees in the planning the changes?
Cyber security in the metaverse
Cyber and information security becomes increasingly important as companies move their operations into the digital, internet-based world. Cyber security is one of the biggest challenges related to the metaverse. Secure virtual processes and global sharing between different locations should be an integral part of a company’s metaverse strategy. Does the company rely on platforms and solutions built by others to virtualise its operations, or does the company have the competence to develop its own solutions? Companies should have as much control over data sharing as possible to ensure information security.
The future and change: threat or opportunity?
The metaverse as a concept may evoke strong feelings for and against. Practices that have been proven to work in the past will be useful up to a certain point, but at the same time, we must also focus on building the future. What is your company’s attitude towards the future? Do you experiment boldly and learn from your mistakes? Or do you lean on old familiar ways?
Preparing for virtualisation is similar to the transition to digitalisation. The change requires a brave new mindset: it’s time to continue the work we achieved in digitalisation. Consumers and customers have higher requirements, and on the other hand, the use of multiple channels and social virtual spaces has become commonplace. There are various ways to participate in the change: experiment, pilot and explore the new operating environment.
As platforms, technologies, user behaviour and the competitive situation evolves, all that is certain is that, like all technological revolutions, the metaverse will leave some behind, while others find new opportunities. Which team does your company belong to? The time for strategic planning is now, before the best spots in virtual reality have been sold to your competition.
8 steps to creating a strategy for the metaverse
- What kind of benefits are you looking to achieve in the metaverse? Marketing, sales, brand visibility, streamlining processes, experiential training or engaging new customers?
- What services, products, processes or practices will be virtualised? Piloting the applications and measuring the benefits indicate what kind of solutions you should built.
- On which platforms do you need to be present and why? What channels and platforms do your customers use now and in the future? Will you build your own platform, or buy visibility from existing platforms?
- How are the company’s digital channels and services linked to its existing services? A smooth user experience is crucial. How will the physical and virtual services be integrated? Is the experience consistent from one channel and platform to another?
- Experiences bring added value: What new and positive aspects does the virtual and spatial dimension bring to the customer or user experience?
- Accessibility: Are the new channels or processes easy to use?
- Training and communication: How does the company communicate to its staff about the new channels and practices? How do companies inspire and encourage employees’ commitment to change?
- How is cyber security taken into account and ensured?
Excursions to the metaverse
Are you interested in exploring the metaverse? Loihde and Stereoscape arrange excursions to the virtual and expanded reality on May 31-June 2. Book your trip here: