Brand experiences in the Metaverse are continuing to evolve…
- The metaverse makes shopping for Gen Z’s virtual avatars a playable experience
- Brands are hosting gaming events in the metaverse that lead to virtual shopping
- Live experiences are in the metaverse now, and the majority of young people are interested in attending them
It’s no longer a secret that Gen Z and Millennials are deep into the metaverse’s virtual world of gaming and avatars. If you don’t know (which you should) it’s not one fully united digital space, but an array of games like Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, and other virtual realities where young people especially are having lives as real as their physical ones. YPulse has said for years now that the future of marketing is in gaming, and with its growth, we predicted that 2022 would be an especially big year for branded metaverse experiences. This is proving to be correct, as young consumers’ opportunities to shop and game with brands at the same time have multiplied. Every brand is finding their own ways into the virtual worlds; while some started off with shopping for avatars, and progressed to games and challenges, several have now expanded to full-scale digital experiences like concerts and award shows—and it’s working.
Earlier this year, YPulse’s The metaverse trend report broke down all the ways young consumers use, feel about, and interact with brands within the metaverse, and showed that nearly 60% of 13-39-year-olds agree that brands need to interact with virtual worlds to stay relevant. What interactions should look like, though, differs slightly depending on who you’re trying to reach. Gen Z is more likely to create avatars and hang out with friends in these virtual worlds, making them key to virtual shopping and events, while Millennials are more likely to be buying crypto-currency and NFTs.
Regardless of generation, though, 84% of virtual world gamers have or are interested in participating in a brand event in their virtual world. And as brands try to reach them, brand events in the metaverse have continued to evolve—here are three ways that activations in virtual worlds have been changing:
Dressing avatars is getting next level, and they can twin IRL
Since we told you what brands should know about fashion in the metaverse, the amount of brands giving young consumers options to shop for their avatars has only gotten bigger. More than half of virtual world gamers have bought clothing / accessories for their avatars, and another 30% say they have not yet, but are interested in doing so. They’re especially interested in brand name items, and 22% say that their avatar is already wearing branded clothing.
Most shopping experiences in the metaverse are paired up with gaming, like Timberlands “Metaboots” lab, which allows Fortnite players to make custom shoes through winning effects on the different parts of the virtual island. Others focused more on avatar clothing than a game to earn it from; brands like Forever 21, PacSun, and Boohoo have created fashion accessories that were so successful that they were soon followed with IRL items to let gamers twin with their avatars. YPulse data shows one third of VR gamers say their virtual world style impacts their real-world style.
Some retailers are creating their shops through ComplexLand, a “digital mall” that houses shops, NFTs, games, and AI influencer-events, among other experiences. Here, gaming and shopping are intertwined, but shows there are opportunities for brands to successfully create shopping experiences without establishing entire worlds of their own.
Brands are creating pop-ups and their own worlds-within-worlds
Brands who go all the way into the metaverse are reaping the benefits, though. Even if they aren’t all buying merch, YPulse’s Gaming report shows that 96% of young consumers play video games in some capacity, so it’s important to not forget what the metaverse does for the average gamer. But, branded gaming spaces are almost never without a shopping option.
ComplexLand is only one space that’s all-inclusive, as several brands have gone all-in on the metaverse by building their own world maps. Nike took the leap last year when they launched Nikeland in Roblox, which contains sports complexes, Nike headquarters, and merch opportunities. By having this space, they also have the opportunity to host smaller experiences within it, like they did with Airtopia, to connect the new gens with their vintage sneaks. Luxury brands like Gucci are reaching the gens who aren’t buying luxury IRL through their virtual world Gucci Town, which began as a pop-up, but is now a whole plaza in Roblox complete with games, cafes to hang out in, and of course, shops.
Other brands like Nars Cosmetics are doing just as well on a smaller scale (well, as small as a virtual island hopping game can be), by setting up temporary games to earn badges and buy virtual looks. Victoria’s Secret’s Happy Nation experience, like Nike, connected to the real world brand by allowing players to transfer points won in obstacle courses to donations for the real-life Undies for Everyone charity. Moves like these take into consideration that 92% of virtual world gamers say that their virtual world influences their life in the physical world, and taps into both.
Metaverse events are becoming their own entertainment category
In the years we’ve been monitoring brands in the metaverse, virtual worlds have grown to host more than just games and shops.The progression we predicted is booming this year, with events in the metaverse mirroring real life ones. YPulse’s Experiences report shows that 68% of Gen Z and Millennials say they are interested in attending a virtual event in the next 6 months, whether through live streaming or within a video game. Many of them are already taking advantage of the events available to them, as 23% have already attended a virtual brand event, but another 46% are interested in doing so. The games they love are making this possible by taking steps toward experience-focused gaming; Roblox recently announced they would be expanding their developer toolkit to make it easier for anyone to craft something much bigger than a mini-game, and make Roblox feel like “a living, breathing world.”
They also signed several partnerships with music companies like Sony and BMG last year to make metaverse events something artists can profit from, as they become more frequent and popular. YPulse data shows nearly one third of young people have attended a virtual concert before, but another 44% are interested in attending, which is becoming more possible for them. Huge “live” concerts have been going on for a couple years now—the first in Roblox having 36 million virtual attendees for Lil Nas X—but their impact is flowing over into the real world. MTV’s Video Music Awards are recognizing a “Best metaverse Performance” category this year, with nominated performances happening across metaverse games. Logitech went further than just recognizing the metaverse’s live event abilities by hosting the first metaverse award show in May through Roblox—the Song Breaker Awards were complete with an influencer host and celebrity music performances, tapping young people’s virtual and IRL interests.
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