To understand the Brand-Metaverse imperative, one must first understand the Metaverse. The metaverse is a Virtual Reality Universe conceptualized by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash. In essence, Facebook’s name transition to Meta bookmarked a shift in our technological stance as a society. Facebook was the company that historically completely disrupted the way in which we used the internet, took over social media (especially here, in the United States).
I remember using Myspace back in 2008, (I was in the sixth grade) and by 2009 (seventh grade), everyone completely dropped Myspace and took to Facebook. As time passed, Instagram became the go-to social media site, and people began dropping Facebook, but then Facebook (Meta) bought Instagram. (Another popular social site owned by Meta is Whatsapp).
"The Metaverse” is: ‘A virtual world where large numbers of people can gather to play, work or socialize.'— Metaverse.com
“The Metaverse” is the shift in our communications and connections fueled by Virtual Reality, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence connecting the virtual and physical worlds.” – The Metaverse Collaborative
Meta and Zuckerberg have dominated social media and pioneered the way users partake in it. So, if you’ve been around, you have seen just how quickly technology has evolved. Zuckerberg has been right about the success of Facebook and Instagram, as well as the Quest headset, so it’s easy for brands to assume he is right about Meta and The Metaverse agenda.
Wired explains that the metaverse “can include virtual reality — characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you’re not playing — as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.” — Wired.com
An onslaught of brands is rushing to incorporate their image into these virtual worlds. After all, it’s a good idea to get ahead of social trends and to be prepared to meet the demands of the evolving consumer.
Brands Getting Ahead of the Trend:
It’s interesting to watch the beginning of this new era in technology unfold. Many brands have begun exploring virtual possibilities from Apple, Coca-Cola, and Disney.
Here are some notable brands that are collaborating with Web3 experts and the Metaverse:
Louis Vuitton- In 2021, Louis Vuitton launched “Louie the Game” to commemorate the iconic brand's 200th anniversary. The video game plays as an immersive 3D metaverse experience. Players can even collect NFTs as rewards throughout the game. The official game is available to download from the Apple Store and Google Play store.
Gucci- In May 2021, Gucci and Roblox hosted a two-week event where players could purchase NFT collectibles in the form of virtual Gucci handbags and accessories while exploring the virtual Gucci Garden.
Gucci Town X Robolox - Additionally, Roblox and Gucci have also launched Gucci Town, where users can explore the brand's history and the creative director's vision of the brand.
Balenciaga X Fortnite - Not only was Balenciaga one of the first three fashion brands to collaborate with Meta on a digital fashion marketplace for avatars, it was also one of the first fashion houses to partner with the popular online game Fortnite. The 2021 collaboration consisted of both in-game outfits and physical apparel.
Nike- Nike is another brand to have partnered with Roblox with the creation of Nikeland. Prior to entering the Metaverse, Nike began protecting their logos and slogans in preparation for selling virtual goods. Doing this prevents copyright infringements, increasing the value of their Nike NFTs.
Nike X RTFKT - Nike also purchased RTFKT, a leading digital artifact creator in the metaverse. RTFKT designs the most sought-after products in the virtual fashion and gaming world, creating digital assets in the form of NFTs, virtual sneakers, clothing, and more. (Forbes)
Web3, AI, and Chat Bots:
From my understanding, the modalities of The Metaverse, AR/VR, and AI are all just side effects of Web3. While entwining ourselves with the digital world, the artificial world is becoming normalized in our physical world.
AI Chatbots have become the norm in society in recent months, with companies like OpenAI releasing ChatGPT; the AI chatbot has been around for less than six months and has already caught the attention of millions. Even South Park poked fun at the app in this March 2023 episode.
Microsoft Bing, and Google are incorporating AI bots now too, The “new Bing” which works through AI-powered search capabilities (ChatGPT), is accessible through Microsoft's Edge browser and via bing.com. Users can now conversate with these AI chatbots all the while getting their questions answered, have posts written, etc.
Although I tend to approach AI powered changes with caution, I can’t help but recognize the benefits this new technology gives society. We all know and love our Apple Siri, and that tech has been around for over a decade now. In a way, we should be desensitized to chatting with AI, we are all use to Googling everything… ChatGPT really married these two concepts. In another decade or so, talking to AI bots and immersing ourselves into the Metaverse will be as normal as searching something up on Google and going on Instagram is today.
A huge reason brands are using video games like Roblox and Fortnite to dip their feet into the Metaverse is because of the popularity these platforms already have with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. My 10-year old sister plays Roblox religiously, her generation is being raised with this normalized digital reality. Whether we like it or not, while these younger generations are growing in the consumer population and retailers must adapt to the Metaverse in order to remain relevant.
Before we know it, the virtual economy will become just as important as the physical economy... if not, perhaps even more so.
It’s time to start leveraging the Metaverse now, learn more here.
Hannah Cruz is a graduate student at the NYU School of Professional Studies, pursuing a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing.