Nike, Axa, Balenciaga, Forever21 or even Carrefour, there are many brands investing in virtual universes, and not a day goes by without a new ad effect. So much so that some forecasters already envision a total market for the metaverse of around $700 billion in 2030!
Hard to believe for the greatest number, because these metaverses are still in an embryonic stage – the weak penetration of this universe among the general public is clear for the moment. Added to this are the weak signals issued by the market in recent months: correction of the price of cryptocurrencies, declining enthusiasm around NFTs, etc.
So, should you invest in the metaverse when you’re a brand? Is it really accessible to all brands? What do we have to gain by venturing there today? How to avoid losing, both in the short and long term? And above all, what place will it occupy in the brand experience of tomorrow?
We often talk about accelerating the pace of change. What’s new about Web3 is that it’s maturing at breakneck speed, integrating brands from the start. Because today these virtual universes need brands to acquire credibility, as much as some brands need them, for reasons of image and experience. Fifteen years ago, debates raged about the profitability of Facebook and the place brands could occupy in it. It took at least 6 or 7 years for the iconic web 2.0 platform to give birth to a profitable model.
In contrast, Web3 immediately offers a completely different paradigm, making it an essential playground for brands, for at least three main reasons.
First, Web3 is based on a so-called “decentralized” philosophy and model. Against the domination of GAFAM, it offers a democratic and open model where all actors are welcome. Sébastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox (one of the reference platforms, with a playful and social vocation, among the metaverses under construction), explains that in the long term “only 10% of the platform’s contents will be produced by The Sandbox” – the rest is in the hands of the “creators”.
At the forefront of these creators: brands. Today there is a certain form of equality between platforms and brands, which now have a card to play by experimenting and proposing an experience in their own image, which resonates with their DNA, their identity and their values. True IRL cultural landmarks, they have the notoriety, intangible assets and financial wherewithal to deliver original, bespoke experiences that cater to the desires of new Web3 explorers. The fashion and luxury industry is at the forefront of this sector, such as what Louis Vuitton has been able to do with League of Legends, but many other sectors are gradually following suit.
Then, of these new Web3 explorers, they are younger, more connected, looking for shared experiences and moments. There is therefore an essential playing field and conquest for brands, which must be present where their consumers are, to seduce the Z and Alpha generations. It is therefore a question of taking a step forward, creating a link with the consumers of tomorrow, even the day after tomorrow.
Finally, Web3 operates on a more mature business model than previous iterations. The theme of value creation and its sharing among stakeholders is central to this model. The creation of communities (the famous DAO) with their own tokens and cryptocurrencies, the “play-to-earn” logic, or even the remuneration of internet users’ attention (see the Brave web browser model and its proprietary currency, the BAT) are all examples of this financial maturity. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Web3 business models are doomed to success! As in any entrepreneurial venture, only time will tell which models will last over time…
So obviously venturing into the meanders of the Metaverse and its ecosystem comes with its share of risk. Brands need to ask the right questions: Is my brand asset projectable in Web3? How can I deliver a consistent experience across all channels and touchpoints my brand has already activated? Or is it possible to project oneself responsibly into this universe, in order not to betray the brand commitments already undertaken elsewhere in terms of CSR?
However, it seems that it will soon be riskier for a brand to stay away from Web3 than to invest in this space – thoughtfully and responsibly, and with good support, of course! Experimentation and exploration are still allowed and the possibilities are numerous, with the aim not only of investing in a platform, but of offering real experiences and content in line with the brand strategy.
(Posted forums are the responsibility of their authors and do not bind CB News).