Why Brands Need to Step into the Metaverse Now
”Technology is a glittering lure. But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash - if they have a sentimental bond with the product” - Donald Draper - Mad Men
This quote by Donald Draper is probably one of the most well-known quotes from the show and it still holds true. In today’s world, thanks to the tsunami of data, it has become easier than ever before to target exactly the people you want. Spend enough money on hyper-targeted and personalized ads and you are guaranteed to get eyes on your ad. But those eyeballs don’t necessarily mean success. On the internet, the timespan of people is only a few seconds and the infinite scrolling trap ensures people will have forgotten the ad again the moment something new pops up on their screen. The quality of the majority of advertising online is (below) average, which means that the moment something comes by that creates an emotional bond with them, something with actual substance, it will stand out and have an impact.
During Mad Men’s time, in the 1960s, the era of mass marketing had just begun. Thanks to radio and television, it had become possible to reach large groups of people with a single company’s message. This also meant that the message better be good, because it was not possible to adjust the message per target group. It had to be a concise and clear offer that resonated with the intended audience. Over the years, this mass marketing worked well for brands, which is why when the internet arrived, brands at first were reluctant to develop an online presence.
This seems unthinkable today, but during the internet’s beginning, there were plenty of brands that did not see the need for a website. Then when eCommerce became a thing, brands were reluctant to open an online store. Even at the start of the pandemic, there were plenty of brands who had not yet invested heavily in an online channel and ran into problems when the brick and mortar shops had to close due to the lockdowns around the world. Those companies who had not updated their supply chain to the digital era before the start of this pandemic faced a lot more difficulties in adjusting to the new normal than those companies with a digitally optimized supply chain and eCommerce channel.
The same applied at the start of the social media era and the mobile internet. Again, brands had to be convinced that it was a good idea to develop a mobile app and to create a presence on social media and build a community on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or more recently, TikTok.
Time and again, brands have been reluctant to embrace new opportunities, while the few front-runners and innovators who did were successful in the long run, even though they made mistakes when exploring the new possibilities. While the graveyard lies full of companies that failed to innovate or embrace the new reality. Now we have entered a new era of connecting with consumers; the metaverse. The immersive internet offers an opportunity to engage with customers in authentic and unique ways, offering experiences that can create new sentimental bonds with your products.
While it is very early days when it comes to the metaverse, those brands that decide to step into this immersive world today will be the frontrunners tomorrow. This new virtual and augmented world requires a different approach when connecting with (future) customers, so practice makes perfect. Starting early will give you a head start on the majority who will be late to the game. The rules of marketing are changing and the era of unauthentic, pushy marketing and advertising is over. Especially Generation Z and Generation Alpha no longer accept ads that follow them around the web, greenwashing to pretend you care about the environment, or hyper-targeted, intrusive ads that indicate that you know the customer better than they know themselves.
While we are about to leave that marketing era behind us, a door opens to a new form of marketing. Consumers are now getting accustomed to the reality of shopping and socializing digitally, through social media but also using AR filters, video games, or immersive, interactive, and real-time content. In this phygital world, consumers play online games together, wander around the virtual world to be with friends, attend digital events, visit new virtual locations, and interact with brands to buy (digital) goods and services.
This new virtual and augmented world, together with the fact that the average human attention span is currently down to only 8 seconds, requires brands to redefine how they interact with and sell their products to consumers. Organizations will have to redefine their marketing efforts and offer (future) customers a unique and authentic digital experience; where co-creation and even co-ownership becomes the norm and where community-driven metaverse marketing is the key to success.
With the development of an immersive ecosystem, companies will have new ways to increase brand loyalty and engage with their (future) customers in unexpected, exciting, and fun ways. In the coming years, the metaverse will become a significant component of successful brand strategies and those companies that refuse to jump on the metaverse bandwagon will lose out. Although the immersive internet can be perceived as another channel to connect with your customers, business as usual will not get you very far.
Also interested in the metaverse? You can preorder my new book Step into the Metaverse here.