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The metaverse has been a hot topic in the news as of late and it will likely continue to be one of the biggest trends for years to come. At this point, with the metaverse still very much in the nascent stages, only a few businesses have dipped their toe in the water. Much of this started with Facebook’s name change to Meta. Since then, we’ve seen announcements from Microsoft for a new offering that blends the physical and virtual office worlds, partnerships and investments from Qualcomm to spur innovation, creative metaverse environments developed for children from Lego and Epic Games, and almost 7 million people have visited Nike’s metaverse store. But I’m guessing that the majority of businesses and leadership are only just starting to plan what the metaverse will look like for them or how they will use the metaverse to attract people to their brand.
There is a consensus that the metaverse is coming and will matter greatly to younger generations which means that planning needs to start now. Here are three areas that CMOs and other leadership need to focus on as they develop plans for the metaverse.
The Inorganic Curation of Organic Experiences
In the real world, when people are together, it’s easy to create and foster a sense of community. We, as human beings, naturally want to belong. When we are together in the real life, there are scheduled get-togethers and events that people can attend to be part of something. Companies need to figure out how to take this offline experience and put it online.
We need to be thinking about kickstarting the community experience in the metaverse so people are not awkwardly ignoring each other at the virtual punch bowl, so to speak. Companies need to have a plan to curate and foster the engagement that people get in real life — and keep it going. What is going to get someone to come online once a week? What will get them to continue to visit the virtual world after the novelty of the experience has worn off?
Much like the early days of the internet where chat rooms and forums had curators that facilitated conversations, companies will need to figure out what this role looks like for them. Many CMOs and business leaders are not thinking about this, but it is integral to move forward successfully.
Marketing to the Virtual Persona and the IRL Persona
As the metaverse expands, our online or virtual personas will be as much a part of who we are and how we represent ourselves as our real-life version. People will get the opportunity to build a virtual version of themselves that might be exactly the same as the real world version or potentially an idealized version. People will get the chance to develop who they are from the start. If a person will spend $4,000 in the real world on a designer bag, will they do the same in the virtual world? Or will the person who purchases the $4,000 bag in the virtual world only do so to make themselves seem cooler? And while it’s somewhat shocking, this is already happening. A virtual Gucci bag sold in Roblox last year for over $4,000.
Businesses will need to figure out how to market to people to help them curate their virtual persona. Will it be NFTs like Nike is dabbling with? Will it be offering a free virtual version of something if someone buys it in the real world? Retailers, who this impacts, know that the physical store isn’t going away anytime soon, but there is still value in the digital marketplace. Walmart, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga, Nike and others have already started exploring virtual offerings.
But marketing these virtual offerings won’t happen in a silo, nor happen organically. Organizations will need to begin to collect and mine their data for metaverse insights. Who is the audience that they are trying to reach? Will it be majority a younger generation that will spend money on a virtual house that has no value in the real world? Will date from real world experiences be applicable in the metaverse? There are still a ton of unanswered questions about this future that CMOs need to consider. There is no wrong answer right now.
The Acceleration of the Blurring of the Segmentation of our Lives
Just a few short years ago, people went into an office for work and shut down when they are on the commute home. But as the pandemic as accelerated the shift in how we work, the segmentation of our lives from work to education to life to play has been blurred. And most employees will admit they want to work from wherever and whenever they can. The paradigm shift is here to stay. But in this new hybrid world, people are working 20 feet from where they unplug and relax in the evening, making it harder to disconnect. Businesses are still contending with this problem as burn out and employee turnover are increasing.
The metaverse could exacerbate this problem. If people are connecting in a virtual world for work, and education, and to spend time with friend — how will people ever disconnect. Organizations that are considering adopting some form of a virtual world to improve their hybrid work environments, need to consider and eventually fully establish the expectations for employees. If they don’t, the technology will eventually wear people out.
Are you Ready?
While it might seem like it’s being overhyped for now, the metaverse is definitely coming — and faster than a lot of people probably realize. The businesses that make planning for it a priority today, will come out on top in the years to come.
Just as when digital transformations were coming to the workplace in the last decade, the companies that planned have been successful. The metaverse will be the same.
Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.
Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of Futurum Research as a whole.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio