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GUEST COMMENT The Metaverse: Shaping the future luxury consumer

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“How do we appeal to our next generation of consumers without alienating our existing clientele?” This is a question we are increasingly hearing from luxury brands. There is an emerging answer to this conundrum on the horizon and it’s completely out of this universe… and into the Metaverse. 

But what is the Metaverse? 

It is a collection of virtual worlds you explore via an avatar, or simply put: a 3D internet. It’s not a thing of the future; it’s living, breathing, and growing around us right now.

There is no “one” Metaverse, however. Metaverses include Fortnite, Roblox and Animal Crossing. These worlds are not just about gaming. They provide opportunities for social connection and self-expression and a chance to reimagine our lived realities in spaces with near infinite possibilities. For instance, Fortnite has created “Party Royale” – an experimental and evolving space where you can join your friends to attend concerts, movies, and more. A recent Ariana Grande concert in Fortnite saw her emerge from the stars watched by millions or players globally. 

As we begin to play out more life experiences in game, the ability to separate our physical reality and our virtual reality becomes increasingly difficult. And the lines will continue to blur. Streaming will allow everyone to access any game from any device. The cloud will facilitate games hosting unlimited players. The online world can echo and fulfill real-world needs and activities. It will have its own economy, complete with jobs, shopping areas and media to consume.

If the Metaverse becomes our extended reality, it won’t just be a matter of if brands show up, it’ll be a matter of how. And luxury fashion is well ahead of the game in terms of exploring how to properly show up and add value. This is currently playing out in one of two ways:

Immersive experiences

Luxury fashion brands have a legacy of finding unique and innovative ways to bring you into their brand universe. The Metaverse takes this to a whole new level by removing the constraints of the physical world, while creating deeply personal experiences because of their highly interactive features and functionality.

Take for example the recent Roblox Gucci Garden experience where not one player entered the same way. And as they travelled through the game they could interact with the rooms on their own accord, creating a unique experience.

Some brands are even creating their own games. The recent launch of Louis Vuitton’s game, Louis The Game, invited players to go on an action-packed adventure through six imaginary worlds that exist outside of time, collecting monogram candles and keys to unlock further levels to eventually reach 200th birthday celebrations.

These immersive in-game experiences ring true of a Confucious quote; “ Tell me and I will forget, show me and I might remember, but involve me and I will understand”. By involving our audience in our brand they will form a richer and more meaningful relationship that will last far longer than any other social or media campaign.

Virtual Products

Fashion brands are central to identify creation and self-expression. The Metaverse is becoming a limitless space for experimentation in these areas. “People can also be whoever they want to be on the platform, and this authenticity is an important part of their self-expression, be it in real life or in the Metaverse,” said Manuel Bronstein, Roblox’s Chief Product Officer. Gen Z are spending money to create and evolve avatars, complete with virtual clothes and accessories to reflect who they are or want to be. 

And in a world of hype around exclusive drops and exciting collabs, what could be more exciting than seeing the world’s biggest  fashion brands mash up with your Metaverse and create something that defies the laws of physics?

It’s no wonder players can’t wait to get their hands on the latest Marc Jacobs looks on animal crossing or the Burberry NFT poolside Blanko accessories, including a jetpack, armbands and pool shoes.

The argument becomes more compelling when we start seeing how much people are willing to pay for virtual products. A recent Gucci bag sold for more than the real world version of the bag off the back of the Gucci Garden experience in Roblox. 

When virtual products are worth more than physical products to this new generation of luxury fashion consumers, the question for brands is what does your virtual range look like? And where does it show up?

A new world of possibilities is emerging that is more dynamic and immersive than anything we’ve ever seen in the digital and social worlds to date.  It is one that allows us to involve our audience in our brand worlds in a far more enriching way. And it is one that allows us to reimagine a completely new product range, if not business model.

Are you ready to hit GO?


Nicole Armstrong, executive strategy director at digital agency R/GA 

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