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Top 5 Metaverse Use Cases for Retail and Consumer Products

How can retailers and consumer products firms create valuable metaverse experiences for their customers?

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding the metaverse and its future, retailers and consumer products (CP) firms are discovering ways to inject its hallmark technology into owned commerce and content channels.

The hypothetical metaverse is an iteration of the internet that is a 3D, interconnected virtual reality where users are fully immersed online as avatars. But already, many brands are creating games and 3D experiences on existing, isolated metaverse platforms, like Roblox or Decentraland. Other brands are instead creating smaller metaverse worlds or experiences on their own websites or apps to improve conversion.

Whether it’s business-to-business (B2B) or direct-to-consumer (D2C), incorporating virtual/augmented reality (AR/VR), gamification and personalization into the buying experience is proven to increase consumer engagement — like within this rug buying experience, which showcases products within a 3D home.

What’s the ROI of 3D buying experiences?

In fact, 82% of visitors to a product page activate the 3D view, and 95% of respondents prefer an interactive 3D representation over video playback. The average consumer engagement time for “metaverse” shopping experiences is five and a half minutes, as reported by BYONDXR, compared to the average three-minute session duration for traditional e-commerce shopping experiences.

“The whole idea of the metaverse is to create a more immersive and engaging online experience,” says Oded Lavie, VP of innovation, creative technology, and business development at Publicis Groupe. “Companies are now starting to ask, ‘how can we make our retailer or consumer interactions more metaverse-like?’ and that is driving technology adoption and exciting results.”

It's important to note that this metaverse ROI stems from owned e-commerce, not a totally immersive future world. According to Publicis Sapient research, 60% of consumers are still somewhat or very unfamiliar with the metaverse concept. Companies should invest in a gradual, integrated approach to drive adoption and increase familiarity with the metaverse (Web 2.0+) rather than creating standalone experiences on current platforms.

These are the top five D2C and B2B metaverse use cases worth investigating for retailers and consumer products firms:

Three ways to go direct-to-avatar in the metaverse

One of the most exciting benefits of direct-to-consumer metaverse experiences is the opportunity to integrate a new first-party customer data source for retargeting. Because visitors spend more time with 3D experiences, they’ll in turn provide more customer data and become a richer data source compared to traditional 2D e-commerce.

“Commerce aside, the first-party data alone is a top use case for retailers and CPs to create metaverse experiences for their customers,” says Lavie.

Consumers are more willing to provide their first-party data in a metaverse experience because they feel they are receiving more value than they are with traditional e-commerce, whether that’s a game, an avatar, an NFT, or just the opportunity to explore an exciting virtual landscape.

“When you download an app and it asks, ‘Can I track you?’ most people say no. But with gamification on a web-based platform, like BYONDXR, the opposite is true. 86% of consumers playing a game will give their first-party data for remarketing if it’s through a call to action to win a prize,” says Marc Loeb, head of global sales at BYONDXR.

Most retailers and CP firms are familiar with the benefits of gamification, but the addition of metaverse technology is providing increased value, especially for younger generations. According to Publicis Sapient research, gaming is the top metaverse activity for Millennials and Gen Z. Gen Z is the age group most interested in metaverse shopping, but also the least likely to be loyal to or familiar with legacy brands.

“Teens will say celebrity-driven brands such as Kylie Cosmetics or Fenty Beauty by Rihanna are their favorite makeup brand, but they won’t be familiar with heritage cosmetics companies,” says Loeb. “Gamification, especially on mobile, is crucial to capturing this younger generation.”

Proctor and Gamble APAC and Shopee recently created a virtual metaverse home shopping experience that allows consumers to see and shop for products out of a realistic, 3D home environment. Not only can users walk through the home to different rooms to see beauty products in a bathroom, laundry detergent near the washer and dryer, or diapers in a bedroom, but they can also play games to win vouchers. The experience includes a Laundry Game, where users search for dirty laundry throughout the rooms, as well as an Olay Game, where users can compete to correctly identify the benefits of different Olay products.

Another underutilized use case for D2C consumer companies is commerce through metaverse experiences on owned channels. While specific metaverse worlds often require consumers and brands to transact with cryptocurrencies, the benefit of creating a metaverse experience on an owned website or app is the ability to use the regional currency that consumers use and trust.

“Most consumers aren’t purchasing products with cryptocurrency,” says Lavie. “Providing an immersive metaverse commerce experience where consumers can use a channel and payment option they are familiar with will increase conversions.”

Bloomingdales, in honor of its 150th anniversary, created its first 3D virtual store hosted on its e-commerce website. The store allows consumers to shop and purchase exclusive products from luxury brands like Stella McCartney, Valentino, and Salvatore Ferragamo. The experience also includes a scavenger hunt game that unlocks an additional exclusive virtual experience.

“Owned metaverse commerce channels are especially appealing for luxury brands because they can carefully craft an aesthetic that matches their exclusive nature,” says Lavie. “The avatars, visuals and environment on certain third-party metaverse platforms don’t mesh with some aesthetics and brand messaging, and there’s less control.”

Read more about retail strategy in the metaverse

How to go B2B in the metaverse

While metaverse stores are quickly gaining D2C popularity, B2B consumer products firms are discovering a new use case in wholesale showrooms. Virtual metaverse showrooms give B2B wholesalers the ability to showcase and educate retailers on new products, and even allow retail partners to order those products through the metaverse platform.

Not only does this reduce the need for in-person interaction, but it also boosts engagement among retailers and allows brands to collect data on buyer behavior. Mitsubishi tested this idea with a virtual showroom for their air conditioning units in Japan, which displayed the products on 3D shelves and in a virtual living environment. Virtual screens displayed more product information for potential wholesale buyers.

“While trade shows and in-person relationships certainly aren’t going away anytime soon, virtual showrooms and interactive sales boards allow buyers to explore new products in a digital way,” says Loeb. “It’s easily accessible and it’s intuitive for any demographic.”

Some companies are bringing metaverse experiences to internal teams to improve talent retention and reduce employee turnover in a remote world. One recurring challenge for human resources at consumer products firms is the lack of an engaging remote onboarding process. Traditionally, onboarding might include a tour of the manufacturing facility and company headquarters, as well as introductions to key leaders and team members. In a remote environment, these experiences aren’t possible.

Mondelez India is introducing metaverse onboarding for new hires to offer a greater sense of community. Certain new hires will receive Oculus headsets to experience virtual tours of several locations: the head office, Global R&D, innovation centers and manufacturing facilities.

“Integrating metaverse experiences into all aspects of company culture will drive adoption,” says Lavie. “Upskilling consumer products employees in a fun and exciting way can start with HR.”

Whichever metaverse use case businesses invest in, it’s crucial to incorporate it into a holistic engagement strategy, as well as integrate its data into the rest of the tech stack. While most companies are just starting to consider diving into the metaverse, they should begin considering scalability, data integration, and how each experience fits into their engagement roadmap.

“Metaverse technology is changing every day, and you want your strategy and experiences to be able to grow with it,” says Lavie.

To create a tailored virtual experience or holistic metaverse strategy for your brand, start a conversation below.

Oded Lavie
Oded Lavie
Vice President of Innovation, Creative Technology and Business Development at Publicis Groupe