5 Ways Retail Brands Are Embracing the Metaverse
by Stephanie Miles
Consumer reaction was mixed when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be changing its company name to Meta and focusing on the metaverse, but brand marketers appear to be fully onboard with the move. In just a few short weeks, retail brands have already begun staking their claim to the metaverse and coming up with creative ways to get involved.
Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse involves streams of interoperable experiences, with consumers using one persistent avatar to interact across virtual worlds. No one company will own the metaverse, but early adopters stand poised to reap some major rewards.
As retail brands jump into the test-and-learn phase, the concept of what it means to be involved in the metaverse is already evolving. Here’s how top retail brands are embracing the metaverse as they look for new opportunities for marketing growth and innovation.
1. Outfitting Digital Avatars
In the metaverse, people will create digital avatars that move freely through virtual worlds. Already, luxury fashion brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have begun selling virtual handbags and accessories for digital avatars. Limited-edition virtual accessories for sale in the Gucci Garden space on Roblox cost anywhere from $1 to $9. However, as the metaverse expands and people pay more attention to the brands their avatars are wearing, it’s likely that the price of designer goods will increase and more luxury brands will sell virtual clothing and accessories.
2. Embracing Virtual Reality
Sephora has been an early adopter of all things digital. The global retailer helped usher virtual and augmented reality into the beauty industry with a makeup app that uses facial recognition to allow customers to try on products from home. Consumers with Meta’s VR headsets will eventually be able to star in their own makeup tutorials, share their favorite products with friends, and experiment with the latest product releases without ever stepping foot inside a Sephora store.
3. Integrating Branding Into Games
Online gaming stands to play a huge role in the metaverse. Microsoft already laid out its metaverse tech stack in May, and Epic Games announced funding to support its vision of the metaverse in April. Online gaming presents a huge opportunity for retail brands, both in selling clothing for digital avatars and also in creating branded virtual environments where gaming interactions take place. Procter & Gamble has already partnered with Animal Crossing to create realistic skin types—think freckles, acne, cellulite, and stretch marks—for player avatars. The project is a part of P&G’s My Skin, My Way campaign. Hellmann’s has also gotten involved with Animal Crossing by creating a branded island where players can drop off spoiled turnips in exchange for actual donations to a food rescue charity.
4. Selling NFTs
Crockpot is quietly entering the metaverse by selling NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. In an interview, Chris Robbins, CEO of Crockpot’s parent company, Newell, said NFTs are becoming a bridge between more traditional consumers and digitally-savvy buyers. Crockpot’s NFT is an animated GIF that shows cartoon renderings of Crockpot from its debut in the 1970s up to today. While the actual value of an NFT like Crockpot’s may be low, the marketing value is higher. Expect to see more brands using NFTs to generate awareness as the metaverse expands.
5. Investing in Augmented Reality
In the metaverse, people will shop for physical goods through VR goggles. The trouble with shopping for physical objects in a virtual setting is that fit and size can be hard to discern. That’s where augmented reality comes into play. When the metaverse blurs the lines between physical and virtual shopping, retailers like Target, IKEA, and Wayfair will be ready to pounce. All three retailers have added AR capabilities into their mobile apps, so shoppers can visualize what products will look like in their homes and on their bodies. In some ways, AR can make it easier to shop online compared to in-store since shoppers can visualize the products in their actual spaces.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight. A version of this article previously appeared in Street Fight, reproduced here under an editorial partnership.