Second in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we ask whether now is the right time for brands to get involved…
As digital native generations grow up and enter the workforce, there’s potentially serious money to be made with the metaverse. Brands are already staking their claim and the growing energy around immersive digital experiences is fuelled by this heightened commercial interest. Even if the tech isn’t fully there yet (see last week’s post), brands are buying into the promise to be part of it in the early days, and reap the benefits later.
We can see this in how brands are activating on the metaverse right now. There’s a lot happening, but it’s all based around the same, already very tired, already over-done, commercial/PR initiatives. Whether that’s living like Paris Hilton in a branded Roblox island, watching a Selena Gomez avatar in an Animal Crossing Talk Show, or product placing some flashy Star Wars junk in Fortnite.
As of right now, the metaverse is a lot of overly-commercialised fast culture. It only features aspects of trends that change and develop at pace – like music, food, fashion, and so on. Brands risk being inauthentic and jumping on the fads of the moment. So, is it all just hype then? Or worse, something that we’ll be laughing about in ten years time? Is the metaverse today’s Google glasses?
Already there is a clear discrepancy between the big societal shifts (slow culture) and what is currently being offered – essentially commerce, branded universes or games. So if brands can engage in that slow culture – the conversations about factors that evolve over much slower periods, such as to do with family and work, or even spirituality – then they can begin to co-create the metaverse as a place that people actually want to be. Initiatives fuelled by slow culture are needed if the metaverse is to have real impact in people’s lives (more on this in next week’s post).
Meanwhile, there is an expectation that digital natives will push the frontier even further. With Gen Z and Gen Alpha increasingly becoming locked into digital innovation, there is a future in this space and it’s led by them. Technological developments will also 100 percent open new routes.
The road ahead is unclear, but it’s this slow cultural energy that will really shape the metaverse of tomorrow. We need to start listening and stop crowbarring ourselves in. So, no, don’t jump on the bandwagon.