Marketing Beyond Reality
The beauty of Marketing is that it is constantly evolving. While we proactively help influence the behaviours of our audiences, we’re also driven by their wants and needs. The same goes for the advent of new technology: our customers are looking for brands to deliver the experiences that make use of it.
The metaverse is often defined as a 3D virtual space where people use avatars to work, play, shop and socialise. Although this is true, the metaverse will also surround us and become part of our day-to-day life thanks to the internet of things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR) where we use haptics to take us to a whole new world without moving from our living room and Augmented Reality (AR) where the outside world becomes interactive. More than ever, creators will have the ability to vary practically every visual and auditory cue that users come across. We’ll be seeing customisation of infinite stimuli to maximise the effectiveness of marketing messages for each individual customer.
We’re moving beyond omnichannel where a brand is present in all channels to market to what is being referred to as metachannel where a brand is integrated across all channels. There are no distinct digital or physical channels, instead data is being used to reimagine, integrate, coordinate and blend experiences around the customer, in whatever context the interaction takes place. It’s about enhancing the user experience rather than interrupting it. The result is that physical and digital spaces work together to create experiences that deliver far more value than a single channel can by itself, to the point where the distinction is irrelevant.
This opens up a world of endless choices that span channels and buying experiences – bridging both on and offline worlds. Marketers can’t “just sell” someone something; they need to create an experience which offers something special. Customers need a compelling reason to engage; it’s all about share of attention and less about share of wallet or market share. Buying is part of other activities: the right experience will mean that people are so immersed and engaged that it doesn’t feel like they’re being influenced or making purchases at all. This subliminal persuasion stems from information we take in so quickly and so subtly that it is only processed on a subconscious level.
This immersion is made more effective by the innate personalisation of the metaverse. Live avatars will exist across all platforms on a single login, made possible by Web3 and blockchain technology we discussed previously. No longer will we be scrolling through endless feeds; we will be the centre of an online experience that will be unique to us.
While virtual events have been on the rise, they will be transformed and more readily adopted with the advancements in VR technology which will cross over to the event industry and reduce the need for travel while offering true “personal” engagement opportunities. This “being there” impression created by real-world scenarios and true-to-life occasions can be applied not only to events, but to property viewings, travel destinations, manufacturing facilities tours and more. Imagine being able to stroll along that tropical beach you’ve always dreamed of or entering the spaces Kings and Queens have walked in a palace or stately home!
Engagement through gamification will be standard. Organisations can build out their presence in the metaverse by using virtual spaces to drive gamified, social or event-driven purchases, where the transaction becomes the secondary by-product to the experience. Think of an immersive live-streamed digital treasure hunt or mass multiplayer online games where people want to be part of a cultural “event” that everyone around them seems to be involved with. FOMO is still a big driver for participation!
While the rise of augmented reality started with games, like the extremely popular Pokemon Go, brands are quickly making use of the technology in their marketing. Companies are making it possible for customers to try out products virtually before buying them. This “try before you buy” approach means that you’re less likely to have goods returned. You can see what clothes will look like on you, how furniture will fit in your living room, what make-up or hair colour will look like when applied even “test drive” a new car.
But we’re not restricted by the real world: we can create and interact in multiple worlds that don’t exist physically; if it can be imagined, it can be created. We will walk with friends and family through dream worlds and spacescapes, hold conversations with strange creatures and aliens, pick unfamiliar fruit, even eat it and taste it.
Literally – a whole new world. Or should that be worlds? Marketers, your time is now!