Ready for the Metaverse?

How the virtual world is changing the way we connect

February, 2022

The lines between the physical and digital world are continuously blurring. And soon we’ll all be part of the metaverse.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was changing its name to Meta, it almost broke the internet. But despite the jokes and memes, the tech titan’s declaration that the metaverse will be the future of the internet isn’t so farfetched. In fact, it’s something brands will need to embrace if they want to stay ahead of the curve and attract and retain an engaged audience – or risk getting left behind.

What is the metaverse?

The term ‘metaverse’ was first coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash, using it to describe a computer-generated universe. Essentially, it’s an immersive, shared 3D virtual world – although there’s technically no single definition, with some futurists arguing the meaning will change over time and depending on who you’re talking to. We’ve started to see an introduction to the metaverse with virtual reality and in-game experiences in Fortnite and Roblox – but Zuckerberg and venture capitalist Michael Ball (who recently published The Metaverse Primer), say these games are just the tip of the iceberg.

The pandemic and the metaverse
So, the metaverse isn’t a new concept and some argue it will take decades before the full iteration of the metaverse comes into play. But the pandemic, undoubtedly, accelerated its arrival. As in-person experiences could temporarily no longer take place, brands turned online to create immersive experiences instead. Take Coach, for example. The fashion house launched an immersive retail experience with the Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall. Dubbed the ‘Signature City’, they created a 3D shoppable and gamified environment that let users earn discounts while they participated.

It’s not just brands that got in on the action. As musicians could not hold concerts as usual, they also turned to the online space. Artists entered the metaverse on interactive virtual concert platform Wave, which, in 2020, hosted a concert for The Weeknd and streamed it on TikTok. And then there’s the rise of virtual talent like Lil Miquela, the artist with 229k listeners on Spotify, and the upcoming Alter Ego series on Fox – the talent show that will let contestants perform as avatars.

The future of the metaverse

Virtual experiences are gaining momentum quicker than ever and there are no signs of them slowing down. London-based Gravity Sketch recently launched a virtual collaboration room where designers can remotely work together on the same 3D design project. Other fashion brands are getting in on the action too. Burberry, for example, created skins for the Tencent game, Honor of Kings, and custom creators are creating their own in-game avatar looks and selling them online. Disney has announced plans of building its own metaverse. Meta wants to be the largest one. And when those kinds of names are dropped, you know this is no passing fad.

We’ve dipped our toe in at Studio Messa, too. Following our streamed experiences with miniswoosh™ x Nike and Sippy Live Music Sessions, we are evolving Studio Messa’s signature immersive experiences to the virtual realm in our Messa Showroom: a fully interactive, surrealist 3D space that unites art, design, and technology. We’re calling it the Virtual Showroom…watch this space.

The virtual world is a savvy brand’s oyster. Marketing has a whole new platform (or multiple platforms) and the opportunity for brands to reach audiences all over the world – and audiences that will most likely be tech-savvy. Consumers will be able to connect, shop, discover and enjoy experiences like never before.

3D Artwork by David Porte Beckefeld

The virtual world is a savvy brand’s oyster, a whole new platform with opportunity to reach audiences all over the world.