By Arshad Zaheer, senior partner and CEO, YAAP and Crayons Communications.
Online shopping has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades. However, the past few years and the pandemic have inched us closer to the digital world, increasing the amount of time we spend online. Even the homemakers who were on the fence about day-to-day groceries and households have experienced the convenience of shopping online in the comfort of their homes. And their experience was further enhanced with easy return policies; trying a hundred new and different products, brands; and retailers that met needs we were unaware of. The retail experience shifted gears as brands embraced technology to connect with customers, making shopping more engaging, fun and content-rich.
The coming of the metaverse has further upped the game. Haven’t we often heard of the customer experience, the going to a mall or a store, touching, feeling, trying, and buying in an environment, that adds to the overall joy of shopping? Companies that anticipated dramatic transformations sparked by the metaverse are investing in this virtual world today and building it out as soon as possible. By leveraging the technology of the metaverse, businesses can switch things up from their outlet store presence into three-dimensional virtual spaces that maintain the brands’ look and feel while leveraging the unique characteristics and advantages of an online environment—especially the ability to hold customers spellbound by engaging them with immersive retail experiences. Giving them an even enhanced “customer experience” where they can buy stuff, try on stuff, collect stuff, play games, and communicate with your brand in fascinating ways.
For many businesses, the metaverse seems like a fantasy, an idealistic dream of a sunny hideaway, a utopian world. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s already here and some brands looking to provide the customer experience in the virtual world too, dove right into it taking the first mover advantage. Nike, Adidas, Hyundai, Ferrari, Wendy’s, and even luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Balenciaga, made their presence in the metaverse giving their customers an enhanced store experience provided by technology to engage with their audiences in ways one didn’t even imagine.
Let’s raise the roof for the metaverse where customers can enjoy immersive experiences with friends and family that can extend to the physical world as well. That’s where brands can swoop in and save the day. Shoppers can virtually try on make-up, sunglasses, clothes, or home decor with a seamless purchasing route. The metaverse can be a digital location where customers feel comfortable, can interact with your brand, and where they’re able to purchase physical products.
In the metaverse, brands can build stronger emotional and lasting relationships with their customers. Brands get the power to be more creative, experimental and personalised in this space than on traditional platforms. These immersive virtual environments have the potential to provide a fresh approach to staying relevant to existing customers, attracting new ones, and propelling engagement and brand recognition. Creating community-driven spaces can encourage like-minded fans and users of your brand to come together to interact and collaborate in their own open, virtual world. And as brands realise and accept this reality, it will become even more relevant to brands that are competing with so many other similar products in supermarket aisles or multi-brand stores. FMCGs, be it personal care, processed foods, households, cosmetics, toiletries, etc. can create a place in the metaverse where they can build their brand narrative and bring products to customers with a better experience and engage with their audience which was unfathomable up until now.
While few FMCG brands have already made their presence in the metaverse, it will take only a few more to pave the path for the rest of them to be present in this virtual reality. As a digital marketing entrepreneur, it takes me back to the days when marketers were reluctant to be on social platforms with the fear of the audiences in that space commenting on their product or brand.
And just like that, it’s only a matter of time for brands to realise that being on the metaverse will not only be relevant but almost necessary for them to have their stories told and engage with their audiences in ways no supermarket aisles can do.