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Metaverse: The marketing game changer is here!

By Mahadev Srivatsa, Vice President - Marketing & Brand Strategy, Practically.

May 20, 2022    7 min read

Remember games like ‘Second Life’ or the sci-fi rollercoaster – Ready Player One? Now imagine being able to experience it not just in games or on screen but in reality. It may sound surreal, but the time has arrived to say Hello to Metaverse! Touted to be the next revolutionary experience on the lines of the internet discovery of the 90’s which changed everything about how we interact and lead our lives today.In technical terms, Metaverse is a virtual universe brought alive through Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence. It is an immersive online experience for everyone that replicates your offline reality.

Millennials and Gen Z being most internet savvy and ahead of their times are widely speculated as the drivers of the Metaverse. They are also the core target for most brands across categories and their inclinations towards Metaverse, makes this an interesting proposition that marketers will need to tap into.

The biggest challenge that marketers face today with the above TG is their highly reduced attention timespan. This has led to brands resorting to all kinds of tactics not just to capture their attention but also to engage effectively. This is where Metaverse as a platform emerges as a clear winner with its potential to engage such consumers consistently.

Given that marketing involves creative experiences resonating with various brands, the metaverse can be leveraged for the best experiential ways of marketing in real-time. Marketing requires customers to be engaged and excited about the given product or service and Metaverse does just that, by bridging the gap between customers and a given brand. From Metaverse weddings to holi parties, brands in India have started to dabble with Metaverse marketing. The idea is fun, connected and promising. Given the 5G rollout worldwide followed by India later this year, experiences of this nature can only become more and more robust in the years to come.

No wonder even industries outside the gaming industry are adopting Metaverse marketing to grow a market that is being pegged at $800 billion in India by 2024 (according to Bloomberg Intelligence). This leads us to the topic on how Marketers can gear up for the next big thing that is going to redefine brand engagement. In order to do so marketers need to understand.

Metaverse and its key benefits, which have listed below : –

Metaverse facilitates easier Introduction

Metaverse helps create real and bigger opportunities online across a gamut of segments – be it gamification or networking. Metaverse is also becoming a place where users can interact through AR and VR, which also means that business visits are facilitated, besides socializing and entertainment through avataric transitions. As the boundaries between online and offline worlds are blurring, Metaverse is slated to become one of the most important points of interaction with customers. Activities like trials, sampling, feedback etc. can be very much facilitated in an innovative manner.

Metaverse enables effective Engagement

According to the findings of the Center for Generation Kinetics, Gen Z doesn’t distinguish between online and physical worlds. Gen Z has begun to spend more time on AR spaces for socializing, following new trends and news. For the experiential world that Gen Z seeks, AR has become a massive favourite which makes them the strongest target group in various segments ranging from FMCG to lifestyle and even ed-tech. Since both consumerism and spending are rising amongst Gen Z and given that they are savvy and yet have shorter attention spans, Metaverse is a great tool for brands to engage them. Globally brands including Disney, Nike, Hyundai, Gucci, and others have experimented with metaverse to create highly immersive individualized 3D virtual experiences, In India brands like Coca cola. ITC, Mondelex, Chingari etc have all started to dabble in this space and drive engagement with their TG.

Metaverse elevates Buying Experience

Any brand that gives a differentiated online buying experience only increases its market share. And this increases manifold with Metaverse which can offer experiential brand plugins for scaling up consumerism. People can now e-visit a brand outlet in a foreign country in an avatar of their choice, shop and get the same product delivered in the real world. All this without the hassle of moving away from their device, let alone home! Recently a Gucci bag was sold for 350,000 Robux or approximately $4,115, which shows that Gucci hit the right spot in exploring this format.

Metaverse can fastrack the adoption of Digital currencies

A decade ago, the very thought of enabling digital payments at a mass scale on mobile was a foregone conclusion. With demonetisation and data penetration today it’s common to even pay for a roadside cup of tea on the phone. A similar parallel here can be drawn with respect to Crypto, NFTS etc. which are still nascent and very digital native driven. Metaverse is home to crypto, digital tokens or NFTs can speed things and make people aware and adapt to digital currencies faster. While travelling, one needs forex to shop, dine or indulge in any experience overseas, here crypto could act as the perfect enabler and save people the hassle of forex. Given the rising awareness on cryptocurrencies and the affinity shown by Gen Z, any brand that enables multiple crypto led purchases on its platform stands to gain further in the long term. In India for now, given the penetration levels and the lack of clarity surrounding crypto, this could be a future based decision.

A technological revolution always impacts lives and companies to undergo evolution through new and creative marketing tactics by latching on to it. Metaverse, though now nascent, will soon be the ‘in’ thing. With prospective customers spending more time with online avatars than the offline world, Metaverse creates a parallel universe for users wherein there is less noise and more value and experience. Given that there is no dearth of potential on how brands can use Metaverse to boost sales and engage their audience through personalized experience, it is for companies to identify their state of preparedness and adapt Metaverse Marketing into their scheme of things as first movers rather than laggards and be pioneers in this space. Metaverse will capture a niche and premium audience to begin with, but volume of transactions will be substantial only when the masses have understood the idea and the concept of the technology. Hence as of now, GENZ and Millenials remain the best bet for brands to pitch the Metaverse for. And this is where it can emerge as the Marketing Gamechanger.

This article first appeared in Times Of India blog on May 7th, 2022

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