Big Business in The Metaverse
Yesterday, I participated in an informative online panel discussion entitled “Big Business and The Metaverse: What Comes Next?” presented by attorney Anthony Lupo of ArentFox Schiff and featuring ‘The Godmother of The Metaverse” Cathy Hackl. Anthony is managing partner at ArentFox and hosts a series of seminars once a quarter. Cathy is CEO of Futures Intelligence Group, frequently writes on the topic of companies, branding, and the future of the Internet, and works with well-known brands to develop strategies for engaging consumers in every-evolving world of The Metaverse.
Tuesday’s presentation ranged across several aspects of the opportunities presented by The Metaverse and attempted to answer some basic questions about how businesses, especially those with a recognizable brand, can position themselves to take advantage of an opportunity that will likely not be repeated any time soon. And with companies like Ralph Lauren creating a virtual retail shopping experience for consumers and Nike naming its own Chief Metaverse Officer it is undeniable that The Metaverse, whatever form it eventually takes, is a force that companies must reckon with now. Adopting a “wait and see” attitude is not really an option.
Cathy suggested that one of the best ways for companies to cross the perspective gap between generations, where parents favor physical products while their kids see real value in virtual goods, is for companies to offer a crossover between the worlds. For example, a game might offer virtual character ‘skins’ or virtual clothing and symbology while physical world retailers can offer similar things on clothing that users can actually wear. However, she cautioned against referring to The Metaverse world merely as virtual and the physical world as ‘real.’
Indeed, “[j]ust because it exists in the virtual world doesn’t make it any less real,” she explained.
Not surprisingly, the gaming industry is continuing to lead the way in The Metaverse and virtual worlds still cater primarily to children, young adults and others already familiar with computer technology and virtual entertainment. Over time, this will necessarily evolve, especially as new commerce systems and resulting revenue streams are established. And, this will result in a whole new mindset.
WHY IT MATTERS. On a more practical level, Cathy suggested that companies interested in moving into the virtual commercial space develop a strategy for setting up shop and engaging with consumers. More specifically, she suggested,
1. Every company will have a different approach and a different strategy for connecting with customers and succeeding in The Metaverse.
2. Nevertheless, each company should create a clearcut rollout strategy before moving into an unfamiliar space.
3. Failure will be an option for everyone operating in The Metaverse and the successful early adopters will be those who embrace it.
4. Companies should start now, even if only to take baby steps.
5. This is especially true with virtual ‘real estate’ where companies are already vying for choice space and buying up property and domain names at a prodigious rate.
6. There will be major issues to be resolved in the coming years, not least of which will include intellectual property rights, financing, employment, and a host of legal issues ranging from free speech to harassment to digital asset ownership.
7. Understanding what constitutes The Metaverse, including blockchain technology, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, and how and where The Metaverse exists will be a key to long-term success.
8. The talent war is only going to get more vicious. Companies should assess their existing human capital assets, plan for enhancing their experience ad value, and filling the gaps through outside hires.
9. There will be turmoil, including lawsuits and technological complications, but they will be just one part of the experience and they will be worked out over time.
10. Companies planning to sit on the sidelines and wait to see how things turn out before getting involved are doomed to failure. Waiting is the riskiest approach.
For those interested in additional information, Cathy recommended checking out her Metaverse Marketing podcast and her new book Navigating the Metaverse as well as The Metaverse by colleague Matthew Ball.