A fellow tutor at Cambridge Marketing College – Neil Wilkins – has completed significant research into marketing in the metaverse. He shared his views at a webinar earlier today. I’ve tried to summarise his key points here: Marketing in the Metaverse – An opportunity for professional services firms?
Note: The metaverse isn’t an area of expertise for me. Although I was intrigued by some professional service firms who dipped their recruitment toe in virtual worlds through SecondLife in the early 2000s. And I attended the VR awards – without a headset – back in 2020. Recently, I was struck by how many of my marketing manager apprentices – who are generally in mainstream marketing – highlighted the metaverse and experiential marketing in their trends presentations.
The Metaverse opportunity?
Neil remarked that the metaverse was a hot topic in mainstream marketing because it is an uncrowded and uncluttered digital space with emerging digital economies where an early entrant could demonstrate leadership, innovation and differentiation and offer clients a different kind of experience (immersive and interactive).
“From customer conferences and exhibitions, to product launches and live demonstrations, the metaverse offers all marketers unprecedented opportunities for exciting and impactful engagement with colleagues, customers, partners and suppliers”
The key marketing opportunities he saw as virtual billboards and signage, branded virtual events, in-world product placements, avatar fashion and accessories, customer conference and exhibitions, product launches and live demonstrations.
He described numerous metaverses including the platforms: Meta/Facebook, Horizon, Roblox, Decentraland and Spatial. And noted the accelerating growth (21%) in the global metaverse market – with forecasts of a market value of $107 billion by 2027.
Adopt a strategic approach
Neil recommended that businesses considered their strategy carefully before selecting an approach for the use of the metaverse. It is a new channel of communication that is still evolving – and so is it’s regulation. He suggested the following approaches:
- Product development
- Thought leadership
- Brand leadership
With professional services firms relying so heavily on seminars and webinars (especially for thought leadership and education purposes), I suspect the opportunity will be in the events sphere. Although I was wondering also about the potential for thought leadership and pitching.
Metaverse marketing case studies
Whereas I wasn’t surprised at the predominance of consumer brands in his examples, I wasn’t expecting there to be so many luxury brands (for the High Net Worth market) in the space already.
Nike – (Strategy) Collaborating with the virtual game Fortnite for exclusive in-game products. IP lawyers will be intrigued to know that Nike protected its logo and slogans in preparation for selling virtual goods – which will also increase the value of Nike NFTs
Gucci – (Events) Collaboration with Roblox and VRChat to create virtual fashion shows and hosted limited-time events for customers to engage with their brands.
Louis Vuitton – (Storytelling) Showcase designs in virtual runway shows and partnered with games “League of Legends” to create in-game skins and accessories. 200th anniversary celebration “Louis the Game” took users on an adventure of collecting 200 birthday candles over six virtual worlds while telling the brand story.
Coca-Cola – (Product development) Auctioned NFT collectibles in Decentraland including wearable bubble jackets for avatars in the game. Brought signature drinks into the metaverse with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte in a world within Fortnite Creative called Pixel Point – players win different virtual flavours.
BMW – (Storytelling) Virtual showrooms allowing users to explore and interact with vehicles in an immersive 3D environment. He also mentioned Hyundai using thought leadership to talk about the future of transportation using AI and robotics.
Balenciaga – (Sales) Fashion collaboration with Fortnite for marketing the brand and selling NFTs – including virtual clothes, skins and accessories.
Disney – (Loyalty) During the pandemic it released virtual tours of parks and rides to satisfy customers while their parks were closed, expanding reach and maintaining brand loyalty.
Fortnite – (Collaboration) worked with numerous brands such as Marvel, Travis Scott, Marshmello including in-game concerts, limited-edition virtual items and themed events.
Hublot – (Brand leadership) “Timekeepers of the Metaverse” partnering with stadium architects MEIS and pioneering metaverse builders Spatial the 90,000 spectator, 1 KM stadium designed to showcase Hublot’s love for football, design and community.
He outlined some of the metaverse marketing challenges – navigating platform limitations, perceived technology adoption limitations, balancing privacy concerns and data collection and managing brand reputation in a decentralised environment. Although he tempered this with customer quality expectations being low, explaining that even microbusinesses could explore their use of the channel and that the use of headsets wasn’t necessary.
Using the education strategy, Neil has prepared a six- part weekly masterclass workshop to share, discuss and learn, step by step, how to introduce metaverse marketing into your plans and deliver on the opportunities. (I’d signed up and paid before the webinar had finished!)
Metaverse for professional services?
There isn’t a huge amount of information about the potential for marketing in the metaverse for professional services. That’s not surprising as typically professional services marketing is risk averse and lags behind mainstream consumer marketing. Adoption of video and podcasting was slow to say the least. But there are some interesting metaverse developments – mostly from the management consultants and largest accounting and law firms. And I could see the potential for real estate and property consultancies who have already adopted technologies such as 3D videos and drones for experiential marketing.
The Metaverse for professional services firms | Cal Partners “Ian Khan, who describes himself as The Futurist, asks the question “Should Professional Service Businesses consider the Metaverse as a real thing?” He concludes that the technology won’t affect most businesses for 5-10 years but that they should be future-ready for whatever disruption the metaverse brings”