The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
For most brands, their next consumer is already rewired for the metaverse and other platforms to come.
Not so long ago, your physical circumstances -- location, access to a car, time, budget -- dictated your persona as a shopper. But as the lines between commerce, social, streaming and gaming platforms blur, our digital identities increasingly fuel how and where we shop.
Today, discovery, purchasing, and a sense of ownership are already tied up with the digitization of shopping. There is no longer a definitive “path to purchase,” and the notion of a blueprint with set access points for a consumer is obscured by the increasing number of touchpoints.
We see cashless, app-driven and social commerce embraced by tens of millions and increasingly stretching across generations. In fact, a 2022 Mastercard Contactless Consumer Survey notes that 51% of American adults are using at least one form of contactless payment.
It is in this dynamic context we are witnessing a revolution in commerce, as shopping occurs within digitally immersive environments that have been collectively labeled the metaverse.
Most think of the metaverse as an interconnected multiverse of virtual worlds and spaces. However broadly or narrowly the metaverse is defined, the most interesting aspect is how the physical world meets the virtual world, and the fluid connection between them. This is not just a domain of digital goods, but a new channel for in-real-life goods, services, and experiences.
This leads us to embrace a simple truth: The future of commerce is increasingly spatial.
Consider Frank’s Red Hot Bone Coin promotion, which bridged the physical world and the metaverse. The campaign was essentially a loyalty play in which consumers could snap pics of gnawed Buffalo chicken wings and get directed to a website where they earned Frank’s own crypto (read: loyalty points). The person who earned the most received a one-of-a-kind Frank’s Red Hot NFT.
This promotion effectively drove repeat behavior and stoked brand loyalty while traversing IRL and a digital experience and back again.
Understandably, many brand managers may flinch at the thought of a virtual world leading to yet another channel to plan. Because we all know that the rise of the metaverse doesn’t mean more budget to experiment. Instead, we’ll be asked to squeeze more out of what we have, trimming another program or channel to subsidize the new “new.”
All of which fuels the marketer’s dilemma: How much is too much to spend on the unproven?
For brands ready to create a commerce strategy that meets the moment, we invite you to think not only about the consumer experience, but their holistic needs. These new channels will demand you answer these questions:
-- Given the myriad possible shopping journeys that necessitate an advanced tech stack and seamless integration of data, how will you build your tech foundation for a metaverse experience?
-- In these new platforms, what does customer service look like?
-- Game designers understand the flow of experience and immersive worlds. Should you hire them to design your next commerce experiences?
-- Are you open to accepting bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency for your products? And how frictionless will the transaction be?
-- What will search look like in the metaverse and other emerging platforms?
These are just a few of the questions we’re thinking about as we dream forward. But there is no doubt the metaverse is all of ours to build.