#ConversationsThatMatter is a content series curated by our expert consultants and strategists to ensure brands are harnessing the power of persuasive storytelling. By dissecting the next marketing and PR catchphrases, we explore communications trends which shape conversations that can build value, inspire action, change opinion and ultimately grow reputation. As part of Volume One, which can be downloaded here, we delve in to the ‘Metaverse’.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is described as ‘The next evolution of the internet’. It is A new phase of interconnected virtual experience using advanced technologies (e.g. augmented reality and virtual reality). Simultaneously, it is a ‘place’ parallel to the physical world – the Metaverse sets out to mimic real life interactions by making virtual experiences more lifelike.
The term rose to the public’s eye when Facebook rebranded its name to ‘Meta’, expressing its desire to develop in the world of AR, VR and mixed reality. However, the concept originates from Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, the virtual world that mirrors the reality are illustrated in cinematography similar to The Matrix and Ready Player One. In the realm of gaming, games like Roblox and Fortnite provide a virtual space where users are able to interact freely, generate activities of their own, as well as engage in a marketplace to sell products like outfits for avatars.
Metaverse Communication Trends:
The Metaverse’s application extends to social settings where users can be present at a gathering with family or at a virtual concert with friends. Attending hologram-based concerts has been a trend in recent years, but only now can Metaverse users attend without being physically present, and audiences can feel like they are right there together. Similarly, interactive fan gatherings or product launch events can now be hosted virtually with large crowds, but without the boundaries of social distancing.
As an extension from the Metaverse concept, the growing desire for digital ownership and the notion of virtual security has driven the public’s attention towards cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). In recent months, NFT has careened into the world of art and luxury, endorsed by many artists and celebrities. From Sotheby’s auctioning NFT artworks and Jacob & Co selling an NFT version of the Tourbillon timepiece, to Gucci and Nike selling digital trainers, the excluse nature of NFT is an ideal entry for companies and individuals into the “next big thing in investing”. Aside from investment in Crypto and NFTs, corporations and investors are turning to virtual real estate sales as valuations soar on platforms such as Sandbox and Decentraland, with the anticipation of a Metaverse with buildings and cities being constructed within.
Metaverse will bring about a whole new level of interaction between brands and consumers, achieving a real sense of continuity in ownership between reality and across virtual universes. Meta illustrated a scenario where merchandise can be sold as physical and digital versions in the form of NFTs, that way the owner is able to showcase their purchase in reality as well as inside the metaverse. Through blockchain technology, the digital version can also be used to guarantee authenticity of the physical item.
Virtual worlds such as Roblox are attracting attention from fashion and apparel brands as a means to gain a foothold in the metaverse. Nike marked its entrance into the metaverse by building a ‘Nikeland world’ inside the gaming platform, where users can play games with outfits of digital Nike items. Meta also bought forward a vision where custom skins or items acquired for an avatar in-game can be carried across a unified metaverse in the future, unlike being limited to only a single game, as it is right now.
Tech giants like Meta and Microsoft are gaining a head-start in developing virtual worlds and building 3D avatars as an extension of the Metaverse, at the same time collaborating to add Metaverse elements into existing applications such as Microsoft Teams. On a working level, the emergence of COVID-19 bought about a remote working culture which will become more prevalent as many adapt to the hybrid approach of working. Metaverse will transcend physical barriers by providing a virtual and common place where users can interact closely in immersive 3D spaces with virtual avatars, replicating the feeling of being present in the same place. In addition to internal meet ups, external client meetings and presentations can be achieved via Metaverse to eliminate barriers such as time and distance.
The other topic explored in Volume One of #ConversationsThatMatter is ESG – click through to read the article now.