By Sylvia Gallusser, Global Futurist, Founder at Silicon Humanism
What is a go-to-metaverse strategy?
Every business needs to define its go-to-market strategy, when it penetrates a new territory, usually characterized by a new market environment – an addressable market, possibly new customer behaviors and needs, local competitors, suppliers, potential partners, specific regulations, and further entry barriers (Porter’s forces). A go-to-market approach will allow the company to identify its strengths, weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats in this new market (SWOT analysis), and define a clear positioning for the company. Market validation will ensure product-market fit in this new territory.
Similarly go-to-metaverse strategy describes the need for a plan as a brand aims to enter the metaverse.
There is still some debate around an exact definition of the metaverse. We focus here on the metaverse as persistent, immersive, 3D virtual worlds enriched by web3 technology and features (cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DAO…)
The metaverse can be respectively seen as a new technological tool, a new medium, a new social media platform, or a new distribution channel. Hereby we are prone to assimilate the metaverse as a new market or a new conquerable territory. This new territory characterized by a set of market specificities – an audience of GenZ-Millennials and their “avatar” counterparts; new behaviors as early adopters explore social interaction, identification, creation, collaboration, monetization; new players on all layers of the metaverse; new business models derived from token-based economics and direct-to-avatar revenue streams; emerging regulations and ethics to safeguard safety, privacy, and mental health. Considering all these dimensions will contribute to building the foundations of a go-to-metaverse strategy.
Why would you need a go-to-metaverse strategy?
As a brand, you might want to consider the following arguments as to why to engage with the metaverse.
- Similarly to a new market, the metaverse opens new business strategy options. Entering the metaverse can offer an instant opportunity, such as a platform to launch a new product or promote an event, a digital campaign turned 3D, or a short-term partnership with another brand. But actively inhabiting the metaverse can also enable extending an online store, replicating a full physical store, developing an aggressive customer acquisition strategy, becoming the core piece of an omnichannel strategy, or even evolving the core business. It should here be noted that deciding not to enter the metaverse for the time being is a perfectly valid strategic option.
- Investing in the metaverse is costly, therefore you will want to build a go-to-metaverse plan not to burn resources in the initiative by blindly replicating what other players do. Too often brands are led by their competitors’ PR and loosely copy-paste their initiative with an in-house brand coating, which does not always serve well a long-term strategy and drags costs along the way. We recommend to tailor the metaverse experience to the overall brand strategy and to adapt it to the audience. Ask yourself: what do you want to achieve by entering the metaverse?
- The metaverse ecosystem is still in the process of being built. As the boundaries and game rules are still being defined, you will need to identify the strategic players in the field, competitors, potential partners, possible new entrants, as well as the role you want your brand to play in future scenarios.
- A strategic foresight approach gives us agency. As we plan ahead, we need to define an action plan, a timeline, a budget, resources, partnerships, key objectives, risk assessment. Envisioning possible metaverse futures related to your business (e.g. future of fitness in the metaverse, future of entertainment, future of food services…) and identifying opportunity areas in those futures are foresight tools we use to help you backcast and build a full-scale go-to-metaverse action plan.
Go-to-metaverse strategy and metaverse activation: What is the difference?
Go-to-metaverse strategy covers the overall approach, the foundations, the directions, and the business planning as to how to engage with your audience in this new market environment.
Metaverse activations are concrete actions that you will conduct in the metaverse, from launching a limited-time campaign to fully building a 3D branded world.
For example, Gucci has extended its omnichannel strategy to this new medium, through a set of metaverse activations: In 2020 Gucci created in-game items to equip avatars in Tennis Clash, The Sims, Animal Crossing; they later launched a SDK for users to create personalized avatars; they have developed brand activations on multiple platforms, from Pokemon Go (in partnership with The North Face), to Roblox (with their Gucci Garden), and The Sandbox (where they have acquired a plot of land). On all those platforms, in all those instances, they convey their brand identity through their signature graphics and design.
We here introduce the concept of Metaverse activation levers, which are an intermediary step for you to derive implementations of your strategy, and reciprocally to connect your metaverse activations to your overall go-to-metaverse strategy.
Metaverse activation levers range from educating on a topic, raising brand awareness, creating fan engagement, and launching new products, to offering promotions, constituting a new channel for physical distribution, or even transforming the core business.
For example Steve Aoki’s Aok1verse acts on the levers of fan engagement, launching new titles, offering promotions and perks, as well as transforming the core business of doing music by including the fans in the creation process.
Depending on the set of levers activated, we identify five types of go-to-metaverse strategies:
- Evolving the core business (fan engagement + product launch + promotion + business transformation): Snoop Dog, Ubisoft, Disney, Atari, Ikea
- Launching and promoting new products (fan engagement + promotion + product launch): Chipotle, Adidas, Warner Music Group, Coca-Cola, Wendy’s
- Engaging fans and bringing new audiences in (brand awareness + fan engagement): Nike, Gucci, Heineken, Nerf, Barbie, Burberry
- Raising awareness (educating + brand awareness): Lego, Carrefour, Hyundai, P&G
- Augmenting physical distribution (promotion + distribution): McDonald’s, Panera, Walmart, Tiger Beer.
Note that we expect more strategies to emerge in the upcoming months and years.
You might want to start thinking about your own objectives and strategy, as you reflect on the possibilities offered by the metaverse through all those levers.
How to create your next metaverse activation?
Given the specificity of the metaverse as a territory under construction, we have built a methodology at the intersection of business strategy and strategic foresight.
A metaverse activation is the result of bringing together four components:
- Go-to-metaverse strategy: reviewing and understanding all strategic options in the realm of the metaverse, investigating metaverse activation levers, connecting strategic goals and activation levers.
- Brand strategy: prioritizing your brand strategic goals, expliciting your brand’s identity, story, and values, gathering your current digital assets.
- Technology adoption: understanding the different metaverse platforms, as well as web3 capabilities, features, business models, questioning what is available, what is feasible, what is viable.
- Futures envisioning: envisioning the future of your industry in the metaverse, projecting your brand’s customer journey in the metaverse, imagining a day in the life of your customers, identifying areas of opportunities for your brand in such futures, as well as including ethics in designing your future metaverse activations.
How to find your brand-metaverse fit?
Iterations among those four inputs will guide you towards finding your brand-metaverse fit. Our in-house methodological framework and workshop facilitation can help you through this ideation process and the crafting of your first metaverse activations.