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Metaverse: What Is It & How will it be a Game Changer For Brands & Businesses in 2022 & Beyond

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Imagine a world where you could have a conversation with your colleagues on a beach, take meeting notes while floating around a space station, or even teleport yourself from your office to London and New York in just a few clicks, all without taking a step outside your front door. You can even send in your AI-enabled digital twin instead to take meetings or calls on your behalf.  These are just some of the examples of the future of work promised by “the metaverse”.

Originally coined by author Neal Stephenson in 1992 to describe a future world of virtual reality. The metaverse is generally explained as a network of 3-D virtual worlds where people can interact, do business, and forge social connections through their virtual “avatars.” In other words, a virtual reality version of today’s internet. Let’s take a closer look at its meaning and what it means for businesses today and in future.  

What is the Metaverse?

The concept of the metaverse is straight out of a science fiction novel. In late October 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be rebranded to ‘Meta’, it sent a strong signal to the rest of the world that the metaverse would enter mainstream consciousness very soon.

The metaverse derives its name from ‘meta’ meaning beyond and ‘universe’. To put it simply, the metaverse changes the relationship we have with the internet. Rather than us seeking out the internet, for example, by actively taking out our phones and searching for something on Google, the internet will exist all around us.

Metaverse is a 3D “virtual world” in which users can customize and create their own digital avatar, while interacting with each other in a virtual space setting. Metaverse will impact business in the future, bringing about an era of mass customization and the ability to do more things with less effort while interacting with each other in new innovative ways.

There are endless possibilities and opportunities within the Metaverse. At its core, business is just people making a mutually beneficial trade. In Metaverse, you can network, sell digital renderings, host events, create virtual worlds, and much more. Businesses are leaping over the opportunities that the virtual world has to offer, where imagination is the only limit. They are preparing for a metaverse-dominated future, which could open new markets. The potential business impacts that could be expected in a few years with the development of metaverse technologies are as follows.

How Will it Impact Businesses?

Remote work culture

One of the main impacts metaverse will have on businesses is remote working. Remote work capabilities have become a necessity since the beginning of 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some organizations have shifted completely to remote work. Although the remote work transition has been pretty smooth for most organizations, some issues are still prevalent.

In the Metaverse, employees will have their own virtual workspace where they can attend meetings, work, and collaborate. Users can make virtual presentations and take part in brainstorming sessions. The Metaverse creates a more interactive environment than just virtual meetings, connecting users from all over the world to attend global summits and meetings catered to an international audience.

In the future, the workplaces of employees and employers in Metaverse will be more efficient, streamlined, and convenient. Because of the Covid-19, people are well aware of the need for working from home. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most companies have used virtual communication platforms like Zoom, and Google Meet. Metaverse for Business Meetings is an updated version of the co-working platform. For example, Facebook’s Horizon Workroom can be used as a replacement for audio and video conferencing for different companies.

Users can create a virtual work environment wherever they want to and conduct any kind of corporate responsibilities there. Also, Metaverse will not have any kind of geographical boundary, as a result, companies will be able to hire their staff from anywhere in the world. This will not only save the real estate costs of the companies’ workplaces but also reduce travel costs.

Immersive shopping experiences

Metaverse will impact users’ shopping experiences. Businesses will be able to develop virtual stores in Metaverse, where customers can explore the store’s products from the comfort of their own homes, as well as with a new product trial users will be able to order the physical product of their choice. Businesses can capitalize on the opportunity of immersive shopping experiences with the metaverse. In addition, the metaverse can also serve as the ideal platform for the introduction of new and complex products. Many brands such as Alibaba, Zara, Balenciaga, Nike, and Louis Vuitton have already started experimenting with the metaverse.

Imagine visiting a fashion outlet in the metaverse as a digital avatar. You can explore the store and the products in it just like you are exploring the store in the real world. What difference does it make? Online shopping websites also let you look at the products. How is the metaverse any special? In the metaverse, you can wear the clothes and accessories in the fashion store on your digital avatar. As a result, you can also find out how a particular dress or pair of jeans fits you. The combination between metaverse and business also offers the foundation for introducing new products launches. For example, businesses could drop new collections and let customers try them on virtually. This then allows businesses to get timely and helpful feedback for product improvement with the immersive metaverse shopping experience.

Virtual events

Perhaps the most important impact of the metaverse for businesses is that it offers unlimited space for ideas. By contrast, an office or meeting room can only hold a finite number of monitors, and monitors can only display a limited number of simultaneous video feeds. With the metaverse, there is no hard limit on the number of people who can get involved.

The highly immersive and extensible nature of the metaverse is such that it can be used for hosting events of practically any size, including major trade fairs and conferences. For example, a business could participate in a major virtual event by setting up a virtual booth that attendees can walk up to in the virtual world in much the same way as they would with a physical event.

For smaller-scale events, such as business meetings and conferences, the metaverse helps remove the remoteness from remote work. This can help increase engagement and company culture alike, in a way that meetings over platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams never could.

The engagement aspect should also not be underestimated. The metaverse greatly expands on the concept of gamification, which has now been widely adopted as a way to engage both customers and employees and, in the case of events, attendees. This results in more dynamic and connected workplaces, along with an increased ability for self-expression and creativity.

After all, the metaverse offers practically unlimited ways for participants to create their virtual identities by way of customizable avatars. For the metaverse and marketing, it also presents a fun and creative way to connect with customers. At the end of it all, the metaverse is a major step up from the virtual and hybrid events that we have all become accustomed to over the pandemic.

The impact on hybrid events is particularly important since the metaverse helps break down the divide between those attending in person and those attending virtually. In either case, attendees can enjoy a similarly engaging and high-quality experience.

Monetization of digital assets through NFTs

Metaverse will become a wholly new territory of its own, which would allow businesses to participate in a singular market economy without any geographic constraints. Trading marketplaces and stock exchanges built in the metaverse could open a much larger pool of investors, even more than what we have in the real world. Blockchain technology can help track ownership, keep accurate records, and provide a way for companies to distribute their products.

Users can trade assets through cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and digital assets, ensuring that assets remain non-interchangeable and retain their value. NFTs can be used to purchase or sell digital assets, such as real estate, artworks, vehicles, etc. The total value of all NFTs that took place in 2021 was around USD$23 billion and the value is expected to grow significantly in the years to come, as more brands are entering the metaverse space.

The young population largely dominates the virtual world, and brands are not leaving the opportunity to tap into this customer base. Back in July 2021, popular beverage company, Coca-Cola launched its first NFT collectable, allowing digital avatars of Decentraland to buy and re-sell items to other avatars on the metaverse platform. While Adidas Originals made USD$23.5 million selling 30,000 of its “Into the Metaverse” NFTs in just a few hours as people are ready to bid thousands and even millions to buy these collectables.

Social media

The social media systems of the future may resemble Fortnite and Roblox. It will allow users to create 3D, augmented reality avatars that they can use to browse websites and make purchases. The options available to marketers are endless, and it is certain that VR will impact the Metaverse customer journey from start to finish.

When it comes to content marketing, only around 3% of the content on the web today can currently get classed as interactive. Most of the content on the internet is passive, including videos, images, and more.

Videos and Gifs are already prominent and the Metaverse could change this by facilitating the creation and sharing of interactive graphics that respond according to users’ actions. Interactive media encourages exploration and discovery. Brands can use this to their benefit by allowing users to learn more about their products, services, and missions in fun and engaging ways. Brand experiences that resemble real-world situations or reflect what a brand does in real life will help brands create lasting connections with their customers and leads.

The highly anticipated Metaverse is still a relatively new and novel concept. However, the impact on businesses will be significant as a wide range of businesses stands to benefit from this technology, which allows for creative advertising methods and endless experimentation.

Metaverse and other verses to follow will provide environments in which users can learn, build, explore, share, and, of course, make purchases. Brands that can effectively create new realities that they can share with their target audiences will usher in a new era of marketing.

Here at Hashtaqs, we are also evolving our services to match the digital trends. It is your turn to take the next step into marketing yourself in the Metaverse. So whether you are looking for strategies, ideas, design or even development work, you can get in touch with our award-winning team to stay ahead of the game.

Hashtaqs uplifts business through brand transformation and marketing advisory and implementation online and offline, internationalisation through business matching and community development.

Our consultancy work is supportable with a funding scheme of up to 70% for local SG businesses. Contact us for a consultation at +65 8868 1418 or email us at [email protected]. For more info, visit www.hashtaqs.com.

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