The metaverse, a virtual space generated by the convergence of virtual worlds, augmented reality and internet services, is coming and this is going to change everything.
Revolutionizing the way humans interact and live their lives, the metaverse will redefine what businesses are and how they should operate. Some companies are watching and learning and those that don’t will be left behind.
Accelerated by COVID-19, generational changes and technological advancements, internet users are increasingly socializing, playing and shopping within virtual worlds. Some brands are using this as an opportunity to expand their offerings to include fully immersive digital experiences.
Decoding metaverse and its adoption with luxury brands
The word “metaverse” is made up of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and the stem “verse” (a back-formation from “universe”). The term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual space linked into a perceived virtual universe.
It refers to shared virtual worlds where land, buildings, avatars and even names can be bought and sold, often using cryptocurrency. In these environments, people can wander around with friends, visit buildings, buy goods and services, and attend events.
In a world where physical retail is suffering, the metaverse offers businesses an opportunity to pivot, integrating their physical and digital offerings, to reclaim what it means to sell to customers. Offering non-fungible tokens (NFTs), digital certificates of ownership that have seen a massive rise in popularity this year, will be essential for businesses looking to make waves and create a brand identity through virtual space.
For instance, Gucci, which recently unveiled Gucci Garden, an immersive multimedia experience where users of online gaming platform Roblox can explore and purchase goods. Reflecting the value that exists within virtual platforms, a limited edition digital Gucci handbag available through the experience sold for more than $4,000, more than its physical equivalent’s value.
Moreover, even Louis Vuitton and Burberry have expanded into virtual reality through partnerships with high-profile games, while Nike and other big names now offer virtual versions of their real items.
People are represented by digital avatars that roam in virtual worlds such as Roblox or Decentraland, a decentralized 3D virtual reality platform. However, there is a disconnect between the user’s real self and the digital representation.
The physical and digital world will become indistinguishably integrated.Holly Atkinson
From a brand perspective, this gives companies the opportunity to offer their goods within two mediums: the physical world and the virtual world, where avatars can be outfitted in the latest trends.
What is the future of metaverse?
It is unclear to what extent a true metaverse, which will fully replicate real life, is possible or how long it would take to develop. Many blockchain platforms are still developing under developing a technology that will allow users to fully interact in the space.
The metaverse’s potential for the fashion world goes well beyond the world of gaming and extends into digital ecosystems that are still under construction. So called decentralized worlds are seeing a huge influx of money, with billions being spent to iron out its technical issues.
Will China make or break the metaverse?
As of now China has been hesitant to embrace global cryptocurrencies and NFTs. However, to some extent, its big tech giants have devised metaverse-like online malls in the form of platforms or apps like Taobao and Tmall, JD.com, or WeChat.
It is too early to predict if China will get on board with the western idea of metaverse and evolve, but other global luxury brands that are at least at the drawing board will have a final say and as our very own Keanu Reeves would say, that’s Quantum Baby!