Are the metaverse and NFTs the future of marketing?
In an article published on February 28 by the Harvard Business Review , Professor Arun Sundararajan makes a fairly candid prediction: “ Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will become mainstream in 2022 ”. In another article published in late 2021 in Forbes magazine , another similar statement was made, this time by Andrew Faridani, President and CEO of BreezeMaxWeb : " One of the greatest new marketing platforms has emerged during the pandemic: the marketing of the metaverse. According to the latter, this digital and virtual environment has become a must for marketers.
To back up their prophecy, Sundararajan and Faridani present several examples of top brands making their first steps into Web3 in 2021, including, but not limited to:
- Vans, which launched its own virtual skateboard park in the Roblox environment;
- Hasbro, which unveiled its Power Rangers collection in NFT version;
- Gucci, which showed off its new line of virtual shoes , which can “be worn in augmented reality (AR) or used in partner apps like Roblox and VRChat.”
One could write a whole series of articles on the different ways in which several renowned brands are trying to carve out their place in this new virtual world. But the question to ask is:
If we're not a brand like Air Jordan or Barbie, should we still invest in metaverse and NFTs? My friendly advice is:
Yes but not too much. At least not for now.
There are a few factors to consider when venturing into these uncharted waters.
WHAT IS THE EMOTIONAL CAPITAL OF YOUR BRAND?
If you do a bit of research, you'll quickly realize that most of the brands that go all in on Web3 are the ones that rely on a lot of emotional capital from the public. Gucci, Barbie, Nike, Vans, Power Rangers, are names intimately linked to social identities and certain deep emotions experienced by their audience.
The metaverse and its NFT objects, by definition, are immersive universes of experience, sensations and emotions conveyed by the expression of an identity in a virtual world. Consequently, to connect with an audience within the meta-universe, a brand must present an offer that generates commitment, that arouses a certain degree of emotional attachment and that participates in a form of identity construction. .
For more lifestyle brands like Air Jordan or Gucci, this is easier to conceive, because these are based a priori on identity and emotional attachment. In doing so, they only have to transfer (creatively) these values from a “real” universe to a virtual universe.
That said, for the majority, it's not that easy. What kind of emotional and identity connection can a banking institution capitalize on (…unintentional pun 😉)? How can a grocery store chain connect emotionally with its audience within a virtual environment?
HOW LONG CAN YOU TAKE YOUR TIME?
For the moment, the big brands in these industries do not feel, in the very short term, the pressure to answer these questions. Nevertheless, they need to start thinking about it quite seriously. Whether we like it or not, according to the scholars of HBR or Forbes, the emergence of the metaverse and NFTs is not the result of a fleeting wave. These virtual entities are here to stay, especially for Gen-Z, already well into the transition (just think of the Fortnite phenomenon, in 2017!).
We are in a way in a period similar to that of the early 90s, at the dawn of the Internet revolution caused by the arrival of Web 1.0. The brands' first instinct, even before thinking about the architecture of their first website, was to obtain a domain name. At the time, this simple gesture represented their first step, their first " Hello, World!" within a new universe.
A similar phenomenon seems to be happening again today with the advent of Web 3.0. Nobody, not even Mark Zuckerberg, knows exactly what the metaverse will look like in a few years, just as nobody could predict how, and to what extent, the world would be transformed by the emergence and rapid development of the Internet. It is therefore quite natural that, in the first years, the turn was made tentatively.
In the face of the unknown, the wisest thing to do is to first observe, reflect, take notes (especially about what successful brands are doing) and above all, make small first steps. You don't need to hire a big fanfare to promote your exploratory projects in the metaverse or NFT. Unless you're a Hasbro or Gucci of this world, now is the time for you to act carefully and discreetly. Thus, you will be able to learn how to tame this mysterious new technological creature in the midst of a phase of mutation gradually and gently.
Create a small multidisciplinary task force within your company. Bring together creative people and unite them with strong data and digital oriented “heads” . Invite your marketing agency or outside consultants to attend these meetings. This will allow you to obtain different points of view and thus avoid sin by navel-gazing. Then, hold brainstorming sessions with this team on a more regular basis. This will allow you to gradually map out this new universe and find the right place for your business. From then on, you will be ready to perform your first real tests in the metaverse.
Unlike the cookie apocalypse or the transition to Google Analytics 4 , the shift to web 3.0 still gives you "time to take the time", while nevertheless preparing you adequately for the inevitable shift that is coming. Unfortunately, at this time, it's unclear exactly when this new environment will be in full bloom. But don't be like Walmart, which only started actively selling online in 2000, six years after Amazon was founded. At the same time, don't make the fatal mistake of many companies, which have now disappeared from our memory, which by wanting to go too fast fell into the black hole of the dot com bubble in the early 2000s.
It's all about pacing .
With that, I'll leave you to ponder your approach by concluding with a bit of philosophical wisdom from famed Instagram poet RM Drake ( @rmdrk) :
“If we go too fast, we will break things.
If we move too slowly, we will miss things.
And if we don't move at all, we won't see the true beauty of things. »