Many experts are touting the so-called “metaverse” as the next big thing. They might be correct; however, there is a lot of work to be done to make that prediction come true. Kristin Cronin (@KCronin27), Head of US Marketing at DEPT, elaborates. “According to Meta,” she writes, “the metaverse is ‘the next evolution of social connection.’ That sounds lovely, but what does that mean exactly? And how do consumers feel about it?” She goes on to report that her company conducted a survey and found few people really understand what constitutes the metaverse. “When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, ‘I understand what the metaverse is,’ only 16% of people said that they agreed. This percentage was fairly consistent across all age groups, with 18-29-year-olds performing slightly worse than their older cohorts. Metaverse definitions are widely disputed, so it’s not surprising that users are confused.”
The current confusion about the metaverse hasn’t stopped Jensen Huang (@asdf47957847), CEO of Nvidia, from predicting, “The next big evolution of the Internet will be fueled by advances in computer graphics, the metaverse, and robotics, all linked by AI.” If Huang and Meta executives are correct, then brands can’t afford to ignore this emerging technology. Stacey Jones (@StaceyJonesACN), Corporate Communications Head at Accenture, explains, “The metaverse is on course to reshape our day-to-day life just as the internet has done since the 1990s. Beyond being simply a site where people can meet, interact and stay connected, it will be a new place to make money. In fact, JPMorgan sizes it as a $1 trillion annual opportunity for business and the economy.” She suggests that brands jump into their Star Trek mode and “boldly go into the metaverse.”
Going Boldly into the Metaverse
According to Jones, business executives may be just as confused about the metaverse as the general public. She reports an Accenture survey found, “Only 11% of executives consider themselves highly informed about the metaverse.” Surprisingly, however, the same survey determined, “93% of [C-suite executives] believe it will have an important role to play in their organization’s growth.” The belief that the metaverse will be important for future growth was confirmed by another Accenture survey. Jones writes, “Business leaders across the world are still wrestling with their understanding of the value that the metaverse will offer their organizations. Yet, 42% of executives believe it will be ‘breakthrough or transformational’ for their organization, according to an Accenture study.” There are certainly plenty of companies who are betting large sums of money that boldly going there will pay big dividends.
Author Matthew Ball (@ballmatthew) reports, “Many of the world’s most powerful companies and ambitious entrepreneurs are rushing to build ‘the metaverse,’ an often vaguely described ‘next generation internet’ or parallel virtual world intended to have the immersive feel of the real one. The metaverse is also popular with those working to develop ‘Web3,’ which aims to build a blockchain-based internet that is largely beyond the control of regulators, banks and today’s tech platforms. McKinsey & Company estimates that during the first five months of the year, global investment in the metaverse hit $120 billion — double the amount invested in all of 2021.” He adds, “Firms including Citi, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley variously estimate that the metaverse will contribute between $2.5 trillion and $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Though the metaverse was mentioned in fewer than a dozen SEC filings up until 2020, it showed up in 250 last year and has rocketed to over 1,200 so far this year.”
What This Means for Brands
For consumers, the metaverse has historically been about gaming. Within the virtual gaming worlds created in the metaverse, people have been able to buy all sorts of things from clothing to real estate. Brands have taken advantage of this opportunities to a limited extent. The real value of the metaverse, however, will be unlocked when virtual worlds connect with the real world. Tech journalist Chris Sutcliffe (@chrismsutcliffe) explains, “What will ultimately decide the future of the metaverse is interoperability — the ability for the metaverse platforms to interact with one another and transfer purchases between worlds.” Currently, he notes, we are in the nascent stage of the consumer metaverse. “There is still a lot to be done for more mass-market brands to really engage with the opportunities of the metaverse,” he writes. “For now, we are still in a state of experimentation rather than a matured marketing space.”
Jeff Snyder (@jsnyder9310), Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at the Inspira Marketing Group, agrees with Jones that brands shouldn’t wait to experiment in the metaverse. He writes, “It’s important to consider your strategy while the metaverse is still developing. Brands on the breaking edge of virtual experiences can reap extra benefits.” Snyder and Jones offer a few suggestions about how brands can begin their metaverse experience:
• Think of the metaverse as a continuation of the real world. Jones writes, “Begin by thinking of the metaverse as a continuum of the physical world, not something separate and distinct. As we move between these worlds to connect with and advise stakeholders, we can help pioneer this fast-approaching shift.”
• Make the metaverse a priority. Snyder writes, “There’s a lot of momentum around metaverse marketing right now: A 2022 Tint report reveals that 49% of marketers believe it will impact their strategies. Capitalize on this interest and urgency early to establish yourself as a leader in the space.” Jones adds, “Treat the metaverse as a strategic priority. Devote the time, invest in learning and training for yourself and your teams, and get the best thinking from your people and your agency partners.”
• Embrace the possibilities. Jones explains, “Imagine what could happen when storytelling becomes an immersive experience. You could launch a product or service all around the world at once, take your company’s investors on a 3D tour of your new facility or acquisition, or hold a press event in a digital twin ‘building’ that demonstrates a new product or way of working, eliminating the need to travel.” When you do enter the metaverse, however, Snyder suggests you concentrate on one great experience. He explains, “Don’t wait for your competition to move. … Try creating a non-fungible token like Charmin’s cryptocurrency digital art (which sold at auction to raise funds for Direct Relief, according to a Procter & Gamble press release), or design and hold a metaverse convention like Hyundai did. Use your imagination and lean into digital trends popularized by millennials and Gen Z-ers.”
Because the metaverse is new territory, both Jones and Snyder recommend balancing boldness with caution. Jones writes, “Look before you leap — but move ahead! The time is now to work through how this new continuum will not just fit into but expand your overall business strategy.” Snyder adds, “Analyzing the pros and cons can help you figure out what your next step should be when it comes to metaverse marketing. If you understand the opportunities and limitations first, you’ll be able to navigate the space better and stand out from the competition. … The metaverse is here. Establishing your brand in unique virtual spaces today will ensure you become a prominent trendsetter in the near future.”
 Kristin Cronin, “Only 16% of people understand what the metaverse is,” The Drum, 23 June 2022.
 Spencer Chin, “AI, Metaverse Will Team for Next Internet Revolution, Says Nvidia CEO,” DesignNews, 16 August 2022.
 Stacey Jones, “Let’s Go Boldly Into The Metaverse,” The Marketing Insider, 17 August 2022.
 Matthew Ball, “What the Metaverse Will Mean,” The Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2022.
 Chris Sutcliffe, “How can we make sure the metaverse is ready for mass-market brands?” The Drum, 4 August 2022.
 Jeff Snyder, “The Future Of Brand Experiences In The Metaverse,” The Marketing Insider, 18 July 2022.