3 Ways the Metaverse Will Affect Business Growth
The Jetsons. Bicentennial Man. Star Trek.
Those technologically advanced economies of the future are finally one step closer to being a reality. While we may not have fully functional robot maids or moneyless economies, the blurred line between real life and virtual life is getting closer every day.
Mark Zuckerberg has seen the virtual writing on the wall, including the shift from in-person to online ways of living. A few years before the announcement of Meta, Facebook launched a social VR world called Facebook Horizon, a free virtual reality game with an integrated game creation system.
In 2021, when Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, the world sat up and paid attention. Suddenly it all came together; Facebook had been preparing for the Metaverse.
While many of us are somewhat familiar with the idea of a virtual world, mixing the two forms of life (real and virtual) wasn’t something many of us knew was already in the works. Many companies have only just learned how to pivot to remote-friendly types of working—does this mean we have to start preparing for virtual ones, too?
What exactly is the Metaverse?
Metaverse, derived from ‘meta,’ meaning ‘beyond,’ is a centralised virtual world. It's a hybrid composed of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality, and video, where users "live" within a digital universe. Author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term "metaverse" in his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash," in which he predicted realistic avatars who live in a world with 3D buildings and other virtual reality environments.
As the Metaverse expands, it will offer a hyper-real alternative world for us to coexist in. For example, you and your family all want to meet up for a vacation, but different schedules, responsibilities, and incomes aren’t so aligned. However, you could all meet up in the metaverse to enjoy a show, shopping, sights, and more—virtually, but still together.
How the Metaverse Will Affect Businesses
In the real world, Meta acknowledged that the metaverse "won't be built overnight," and it may take 10 to 15 years for metaverse products to be "fully realized.” While that's frustrating for those enthusiastic to dive right in, "it gives us time to ask the difficult questions about how they should be built.” However, elements of the metaverse are currently available to the public, such as Roblox.
The Roblox platform, founded in 2004, houses scores of user-generated games, including role-playing offerings like Bloxburg and Brookhaven, where users can build homes, work, and play out various scenarios. After going public this year, Roblox is now valued at more than $45 billion. On the day of its IPO in March, Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki tweeted a thank you to all who helped bring the platform "one step closer to fulfilling our vision of the #Metaverse."
1. Marketing Your Brand in New Ways
Marketing will completely change in the metaverse. Brands will have to develop unique and exciting ways to advertise their brand and offers.
The best example of this comes again from Roblox. They teamed up with skateboarding shoe company Vans to create Vans World, a virtual skateboarding park where players can dress up in fresh Vans gear. They also opened a limited Gucci Garden, where you can try and buy clothing and accessories for your virtual self.
Mark Zuckerberg has also noted that he wants the metaverse to be first and foremost a place for family and friends.
"We're a company that focuses on connecting people," Zuckerberg said. "While most other tech companies focus on how people interact with technology, we focus on building technology so people can interact with each other."
Brands will now have to be extra smart about advertising their business. With this heavy focus on keeping the metaverse “social,” it’s essential that companies understand their audience and their buyer’s journey.
2. More Detailed Ways to Shop
With new augmented and virtual reality capabilities, users and buyers can test out their products or goods before purchasing.
Imagine you are in search of a new car. With the metaverse, you would be able to sit inside, count the cup holders, and test drive it without leaving your house. No more spending days shopping and dragging your family from dealership to dealership.
Companies should expect to have to budget more money toward customer experience and product development when these technologies become available. Many small flaws customers are willing to look past now may not be tolerated once your company sells through metaverse channels.
3. More Personal Customer Service Experience
According to the Into the Metaverse report, 76% of consumers say their daily lives now rely on technology, while 85% convey that a digital presence will be “critical” for brands to thrive in the future. This study also showed that 73% of people find it easier to interact with brands via online channels instead of in person.
The metaverse will only exacerbate the demand for more virtual customer service experiences to help with technological issues, help desk, or “how-to” assistance. And with this increase in demand comes a change in expectations.
Brands will now be able to assist their customers virtually and decrease help time from weeks to just minutes. Customer service agents could assist patrons in an immersive, shared digital space, helping them build, repair, or exchange their products.
The metaverse may still be a decade away, but businesses should start focusing more time on specific aspects of their business, such as customer service, to ensure those departments are fully trained and running smoothly by the time things are fully opened—virtually speaking.
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