5 Retail Metaverse Examples that Create Immersive Experiences and Excited Customers
Let’s say you live in a very summer-filled place. We’ll call it Florida. But you crave snow. So you log into the metaverse and immerse yourself in snow-related experiences. You go skiing with friends who live in Spain, but connect with you online. You cuddle with a loved one by the fireplace. Or maybe you have some “me time” in the virtual outdoors, looking around in wonder as snow falls over you.
Well, on your avatar, but hey, you’ll take it.
Then you realize your avatar needs warmer clothes, so you click a button and buy some, contributing to the $40 billion a year market of skin games, AKA clothes and other items that upgrade avatars’ looks.
But you feel like buying yourself some winter clothes too. So you click another button and get it delivered to your offline home. Or you order some hot cocoa or soup from a nearby, real life restaurant, turn on the air conditioner at home, and watch a Broadway musical or fashion show that’s happening in New York City in real time… on the snow.
The metaverse, said to be the next version of the internet, happens in parallel to real life, and continues changing even when you log off. It keeps gaining in popularity, with AR and VR headset sales increasing by 56% from 2017 to 2021, and smart retailers are already immersing themselves in it, creating innovative experiences for their customers.
Gucci Organizes a Virtual Exhibition and Proves Metaverse Profitability for Retail Brands
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Gucci created a virtual exhibition of art installations. Called Gucci Garden, it was based on a real life, multimedia experience in Italy.
As users entered the virtual exhibition, their metaverse avatars transformed into genderless mannequins to provide them with a blank canvas for creation. They wandered through a variety of themed rooms, whose design and virtual elements were inspired by past brand campaigns and collections. As they wandered through the rooms, they retained different aspects of the exhibit on their avatar bodies. In part, they did so by trying on and purchasing virtual products.
Since each visitor entered the exhibit from a different room, wandered through the rooms in a different order, and tried different products, each visitor left the exhibit looking unique, just as they are uniquely themselves in real life.
This is only one of the experiences Gucci has created in the metaverse. Among others, it has proven the metaverse profitability to retail brands by selling virtual products, including $12.99 sneakers and a $4,000 handbag. The virtual handbag was later resold for $25,000.
Burberry Designs a Game Heroine’s Outfits, Then Sells Them to Consumers
Product placement in the media has been going on at least since the 1920s. This strategy embeds products seamlessly in ongoing stories, such as a character that happens to drink Coca Cola while she’s already at a restaurant. According to a 2019 study, “prominent product placement activities – especially verbal placements – are associated with increases in both online conversations and web traffic for the brand.”
In 2021, Burberry took this strategy to the virtual world. It designed two outfits for the protagonist of the Honor of Kings game. The outfits included Burberry’s logo, so gamers were able to identify the brand. They could then search for these outfits online or in Burberry’s brick and mortar stores… and buy them for themselves.
Louis Vuitton Creates a Virtual Game that’s Basically a Brand History Course
Louis Vuitton also ventured into gaming, but it actually created its own game. To celebrate its 200th anniversary, it introduced Vivienne, the game’s protagonist, who travels across the virtual globe in an attempt to find 200 birthday NFT candles. Players who join her can collect NFT candles and unique accessories themselves, and even win some awards.
But what’s that got to do with the brand?
Each NFT candle Vivienne finds during the game unveils milestones of the Louis Vuitton story. Kinda like a gamified brand history course.
Introducing Louis The Game. Join Vivienne in collecting 200 birthday candles as she retraces #LouisVuitton’s story over two centuries and try to find one of the 30 precious NFTs. Discover the new game in honor of #LOUIS200 at https://t.co/5vpMF3AQDy pic.twitter.com/tpAM5rZhjR— Louis Vuitton (@LouisVuitton) August 10, 2021
Dyson Lets Consumers Virtually Style Their Hair So They Can Find the Perfect Product Fit
Browsing the metaverse and feeling the need to style your hair? If you’re immersed in the Oculus environment created by Meta (AKA Facebook), you can do just that. When you log into Dyson’s virtual store, you can use its VR demo to virtually try out the company’s hair products on a variety of hair types, and see which one is best for you. You can also look inside the products and understand the technology that makes them work.
Looks like Dyson might be introducing a similar experience for its vacuum cleaners later on. If only virtual vacuuming got our actual houses clean, right?
Nike Connects the Real and Virtual World with Physical Activity
Nike acquired RTFKT, a company that sells digital collectibles in the metaverse, including digital sneakers that cost $70,000 a pair. Behind the scenes, Nike has been filing trademark applications as it advances toward selling a variety of digital products in the metaverse.
Meanwhile, it created its own metaverse studio and launched Nikeland on the Roblox platform. Nikeland, which was designed based on the brand’s offline headquarters, allows visitors to choose their avatars, then dress them in Nike clothes and shoes. Visitors can play multiple existing sports games together, or create their own using interactive sports elements. But Nike doesn’t want you to solely exercise virtually, so when you exercise in real life – say, run or jump – you add a layer of movement to the game on the screen, and could get rewarded for it, too.
To blend the two worlds further, visitors to Nike’s New York store can enjoy augmented reality that gives them a sense that they’re actually in Nikeland.
Taking Baby Steps into the Metaverse
If your team isn’t immersed in the metaverse and doesn’t know what great virtual experiences feel like, the best place to get started is by exploration. Have them explore both retail experiences and environments from different industries, so they can gain inspiration from a variety of sources instead of trying to recreate the brick and mortar feel.
In addition, check in with your audience members:
=> Have they heard of the metaverse?
=> What do they love most about it?
=> What do they least enjoy?
=> What would they want from a metaverse retail experience?
That said, don’t dismiss the metaverse if your audience isn’t that into it yet. This is still a growing space, and there’s bound to be some resistance, as with any new technological advancement. You can still take steps forward to make sure you won’t be left behind in a few years. For example, you could create immersive experiences for them in your stores, using AR, VR and smart mirrors (click here for some examples of interactive in-store experiences [link to the article once it gets published]). This way, when your customers are ready for the next step, they’ll want to experience it with you, not with your competitors.
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