The metaverse may be a new niche in the retailer consumer experience, but it’s off to a disappointing start becoming a business communications outlet.
The consumer fascination for today’s metaverse signals a significant shift in the way people use technology. If the metaverse begins to exist and operate in totality, marketers clearly shouldn’t miss out, says Marcel Hallerbach, co-founder and chief innovation officer at product-to-consumer (P2C) platform firm ProductsUp .
Hollerbach suggests that this could become the focus of change in how we conduct business in the workplace and how we engage with colleagues to complete daily tasks.
According to some early industry accounts, consumers care about the metaverse and are increasing their knowledge of it. In fact, 47% of American consumers can define the metaverse relatively accurately.
This makes it essential for marketers to gain proficiency in navigating the metaverse to reach consumers. Industry watchers estimate that by 2026, at least 25% of people worldwide will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse for digital activities, including work, shopping, education, social interaction or entertainment.
If that prediction is to materialize, organizations will need to understand the mechanisms of the metaverse and how to market to consumers within it. As in the dot-com era, companies that do not come to market with this new technology will be considered laggards.
“There are two things for brands to know about implementing their products in the metaverse. First, ignore the pessimistic view that the metaverse is dying and not profitable. Second, brands can still drive product sales and overall workplace efficiency. actively engage in the metaverse for,” Hollerbach told TechNewsWorld.
Meek Jordan, ProductUp’s chief people and culture officer, predicts that the metaverse will drastically change the 9-to-5 routine in workplaces. New technology will transform how teams communicate in a post-pandemic world at large.
Creating a virtual space for employees to interact in both the office and remote locations is just the surface level. Over time, the metaverse could change how employees do business, undergo training, and communicate with others both internally and externally, Jordan said.
However, the metaverse as a business tool is far from being on solid ground. 2022 was the year of experimentation for marketers, and chances are that won’t change in 2023.
Many advertisers have struggled to find new ways to connect with audiences. Marketers also faced inflation, economic uncertainty and ever-changing data and privacy regulations, according to Nancy Smith, CEO of Analytic Partners, a commercial mix analytics company.
For this year, she predicts that the metaverse will not be scalable, pushing brands back to real-life experiences. While many marketers have felt compelled to enter the metaverse to explore and experiment, virtual channels will not be the right way to attract customers in 2023.
“Audiences have been starved for human connection for more than two years now, and brands that can leverage engaging, in-person experiences will have the upper hand,” Smith told TechNewsWorld.
opportunities still shaping up
Brands also need to learn that the metaverse is not a quick-profit opportunity, suggested Johan Liljeros, general manager and senior commerce consultant at Avensia, an omnichannel commerce strategy services company.
“The development of Metaverse is a long-term investment. Gen Z and Gen A will be the drivers, and they will continue to grow as the generation becomes a stronger economic force,” Liljeros told TechNewsworld.
He added that it will affect the older generations as well, as the younger generations introduce them to that technology. He believes that older generations will use the technology around the Metaverse, or the Metaverse itself, for experiences, travel/tourism, health and shopping.
Liljeros sees brands increasing sales of their consumer goods within the metaverse. Opportunities include selling digital representations of products like fashion and makeup, buying advertising space in games, or AR environments where you can now buy airspace for your ads or coupons.
“Not only will the audience continue to attract retailers and brands, but the Metaverse also creates a more immersive and social shopping experience where you can literally go shopping with your friends and loved ones,” he said.
Misguided or Lost Technology?
Mark Zuckerberg announced the vision of Facebook’s Metaverse in October 2021. Its development is still far from that vision. Meta’s recent moves fuel the narrative that the metaverse is doomed given Meta’s losses in the stock market [since October 2021] and company [recent] Significant layoffs, Hallerbach observed.
“However, brands need to recognize that the metaverse is a major digital transition like the internet. Once established, early adopters of the metaverse will benefit,” he said. “Despite all this, Meta announced that it will spend 20% of its costs in 2023 on development for Reality Labs, which is Meta’s Metaverse group.”
From a company culture perspective, the metaverse offers a potential opportunity to address a major issue that has plagued workplaces since the start of the pandemic — employee engagement, Hollerbach offered. Most employees are tired of staring at screens and talking back and forth with little or no opportunity to interact with each other.
“With Metaversal’s capabilities, normal operations can be conducted remotely, but ‘metaversal’ capabilities provide the opportunity for more employee interaction,” he countered.
factors to fix marketers
According to Hallerbach, marketers and retailers recognize the potential of the metaverse. Some 56% of media buyers are investing in or considering metaverse advertising and marketing initiatives.
He suggested that the hesitation of 44% of marketers and retailers to fully implement their organization and products in the Metaverse is a wait-and-see strategy to see what the Metaverse can do with their product. What’s missing so far is a standard way for retailers to get involved as the Metaverse hasn’t been fully rolled out yet.
One of the biggest benefits marketers and retailers can count on when they invest in Metaverse is complete control over a product’s online presence. Customers can interact with products, research the brand’s mission statement and goals, and even play games virtually.
“Currently, the technology to create such an immersive experience is still under development. But this is the biggest benefit I see for retailers and marketers,” Hallerbach opined.
Transforming Traditional Workplace Operations
Hollerbach is confident that after two years of using videoconferencing technology like Zoom, being able to interact with other employees in the metaverse will be a welcome addition to an organization’s tech stack. It will offer a level of peer-to-peer personalization.
But how organizations implement using the metaverse is an important process. Execution should be done methodically, unlike what happened at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It should be used in a way that provides real value to employees. Nearly a year after the initial announcement of the Metaverse, there are few concrete examples of continued ‘Metaversal’ use by companies,” he said.
By slowly working it into the core structure of remote working and taking time to understand what works and what doesn’t, employees will become more accustomed to using the technology and more receptive to its purpose. From the very beginning the goal was to increase the level of people-to-people contact.
“By meeting that goal specifically in the workplace, Metaverse aims to combat employee burnout and videoconferencing exhaustion, as well as make remote or hybrid employees feel more connected to their organizations,” he offered.
budget and timeline
Metaverse is still developing key technologies to make the final product possible. Technologies such as 5G, AI, edge computing, AR and VR are still not advanced enough to create a virtual environment as envisioned by Zuckerberg in 2021, according to Hallerbach.
He advised that another aspect which is often overlooked is that the technology should be sold at a reasonable price. Otherwise, adoption would be a long process due to budgetary constraints.
Market conditions are forcing companies to focus more on their core business and less on experiments. This is the main driver of the slowdown in the adoption of the metaverse, he warned.
“Some experts are suggesting 2040 as a date when we can begin to see what the metaverse is capable of itself. I believe that is a fair assessment,” Hallerbach concluded.