Despite the recent voltality in the technology sector, the metaverse remains an intriguing concept. The metaverse holds out the promise of elevating the current digital landscape by merging real-life scenarios and the digital space, and by integrating more technology-centric forms of commerce, such as digital tokens and cryptocurrencies.
The interaction between brands and the metaverse has been one of the big stories of the past year. Many investors see a great long-term investment opportunity here; so much so that the global metaverse market is expected to grow to USD 1.5 trillion by 2029, from a USD 63.83 billion valuation in 2021. With the metaverse stirring more and more conversations in the industry, it is a great time to speak to some experts.
To get some insights, we sat down with two metaverse builders: Cathy Hackl, the Founder and Chief Metaverse Officer of metaverse consulting firm Journey, and Erika Wykes-Sneyd, the Global VP Marketing for Adidas Originals, Collaborations & Basketball & Lead of Adidas Web3 Studio Adidas and Adidas Originals. For this episode of The Startup Guide to Growth podcast, our guests discussed the relationship between brands and the metaverse today: how large companies are approaching the metaverse, and how entrepreneurs may engage in the next trillion-dollar market opportunity.
Envisaging the Future of Web3
“Web3” is a bit of a buzzword – but it is also a powerful, novel idea. Web3 represents the envisioned future of the Internet, in which information will be fully decentralized, and most digital infrastructure will run on blockchains.
The metaverse is both an emergent feature and driving force in Web3, symbolizing the next generation of end-user experience.
When we asked how Erika would describe the meaning of the metaverse in relation to her experience at Adidas she shared:
“We started really just being curious and trying to behave like an anthropologist, trying to understand what are the emerging values shaping the space. One of the things we learned right away through this work is that it has the ability to be so transformative to the organization over time. We began educating one another about what are all the things that you unpack from metaverse: its AR, VR, its Web2, but it’s also pushing into this new blockchain crypto space — Web3”
Cathy, who has been working with brands and the metaverse at Journey, describes how brands are just starting to become really curious about the metaverse.
Just like the brands that Journey worked with, Adidas also has a commitment to constant reinvention, and they are fascinated by the potential of this new digital space. When asked about how Adidas has engaged with the concept of the metaverse, Erika explains: “We’ve really been thinking about how we can create more inclusive models to invite and inspire people to participate with brands. And Web3 and the metaverse really offer a deeper, meaningful way to co-create and create connections between brands and consumer experiences.”
“We have a really big vision for how we want to show up in the metaverse and how we want to democratize our brand and give our brand back to fans and the communities that we serve around the world. … We view this as a bigger paradigm shift for marketeers, for business operators, and owners. This is truly the opportunity for omnichannel in a way that’s far more immersive,” Erika adds.
Journey similarly envisions brands and the metaverse merging in marketing efforts. Cathy says: “I see brands’ commitment to the future of the Internet, to better understanding, to wanting to better understand the community and Web3.”
The Shift Towards a Metaverse Mindset
The infrastructure, technology, and content related to the metaverse are in a state of constant evolution. But for Erika, the biggest barrier to entry to the merging of brands and the metaverse is the mindset. “I think the mindset shift is big. Because it’s also largely unregulated, it forces organizations to also have to be open and willing to take some risks, have a lot of conversations amongst themselves.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for the utilization of the metaverse. Cathy sees brands having differing goals for stepping into the metaverse domain. It can be an additional revenue stream or tapping into bigger audiences or both: “I think that people that are getting it right are those who are taking the time to create a holistic strategy to really put some thought through this.”
As an executive who has been working with brands on the metaverse, Cathy recommended brands lean into the community, leaning into co-creation if applicable. “It’s an exciting time to test and learn, innovate, take some risks, if you can.”
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