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Styling a new life in the Metaverse

I have shamelessly stolen the above headline after reading an article in ensemble magazine on the weekend. The writer, Samantha Murray Greenway talked about “fashion incidentals,” those purchases you make when you go into a shop to look for clothes and come out with something completely unexpected. I know some of you know exactly what I mean. A coffee table book, a new eco-conscious dishcloth, a hand cream or even a new power drill; all while you were out looking for a new dress, plant food or storage boxes. Serendipity and flow. Samantha talks about the new Auckland emporium Faradays which I can’t wait to visit IRL. An uber luxe experience to explore and enhance a lifestyle.

While variety is the spice of life and a rich shopping experience can enhance your life, a new emerging “reality” is coming to a digital experience near you. I don't profess to know a heck of a lot about this, but the Metaverse is where brands and retailers are going to be able to make a significant impact to users lives.

Yes, Metaverse is the word of the moment. I struggle to articulate a clear definition, but as I was talking about the new Facebook metaverse my 16-year son he said “sounds like a bunch of office workers playing a video game because their real life is boring.” Hmm, he might be sort of right.

From everything I have been observing, the metaverse encompasses both physical and virtual worlds, containing a fully-fledged economy, and offering users the ability to transfer their avatars and goods. Somehow you also co-create and explore with other people who aren’t physically with you.

It’s aspirational and a second world where we are interconnected. It might be a single platform or multiple platforms that overlap with real world activities. It could be AR, VR, XR (extended reality) and uses avatars, blockchain is present and it’s a place where individuals can express themselves, their lifestyles and their connections by buying virtual goods. It’s an omniverse where digital currencies and NFT’s are more important than physical currency. And, it’s not the internet. Lots of big tech-sounding words there. Confused?

What does this mean for retail?

There are going to be many different ways to create value in a limitless, digital world but the dynamics are going to be different to retail IRL. Blockchain technology enables the assignment and authentication of one-of-a-kind or scarce assets (products). We can style our lifestyle in this world with things that can be verified as scarce, authenticated as genuine and be exclusively owned.

That’s how art and collectibles are being exchanged as NFTs and virtual property is being traded. Which all adds up to an opportunity to create shopping experiences, but not as we know them. The Retail Prophet, Doug Stephens explains the Metaverse retail opportunity elegantly.

Why would one create a virtual replica of a Canada Goose store when in the Metaverse I could potentially shop for a new Canada Goose coat from inside an Arctic exploration experience led by Iditarod champion and Canada Goose spokesperson Lance Mackey? There I can gain first-hand, contextual knowledge of the garment’s technical quality and performance, order it and have it delivered to my real-world home. I can buy my new car in the Metaverse — not from a static showroom of cars but while taking an adrenaline-pumping test drive on the racetrack of my choosing. I can get beauty advice from a personal advisor that I pull from the Metaverse into my living room. In a world where any experience is possible, why on earth would we use our industrial-era version of retail as a template for the future? Marketers, store designers, merchandisers and more will have to begin thinking very differently about what a “store” is.

Doug Stephens - The Retail Prophet

Gucci x Roblox where virtual products sold for thousands of dollars

There is no doubt there is money to be made in addition to growing a customer base of raving advocates. To date, apparel brands have led the way and the collaboration between Gucci and Roblox is a perfect example.

Roblox explained in their original announcement, “The House brought some rare items to the platform last year with the support of our creator community, we are now thrilled to announce the next phase of our collaboration as Gucci enters the metaverse in a new and exciting way.” The unveiling of the House’s Gucci Garden Archetypes was an immersive multimedia experience in Florence, Italy, that explored and celebrated the house’s unique creative vision – a virtual Gucci Garden space. It was made available to everyone on Roblox for two weeks at the end of May. Gucci also dropped a limited edition of virtual bags in the game which sold for $4,115 (350.000 Robux, the game’s currency), which is more than the $3,400 retail value.

Louis Vuitton also released an exclusive capsule collection that featured the League of Legends universe, including special prestige skins for the League of Legends Champion, Qiyana.

Louis Vuitton x League of Legends Collection

Do I have to develop a strategy now?

No one really knows when this is going to move beyond what I know many of you are saying is “lunatic fringe”, but what most experts agree is that the Metaverse; while years or even decades away, is an inevitable step in the convergence of humanity and technology. There will be some massive investments made and some businesses will profit in brand equity, perception and hard cold (real) cash. But there are also many doubters. Have it your radar, as we know how rapidly technology evolves.



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