If the metaverse is the next big thing for brand building, companies will have to do much more than sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from Nike sneakers or Gucci bags.
The metaverse—whether landing in a decentralized, blockchain-based world like Decentraland, or the tightly controlled Facebookland built by Meta—is an experimental place.
The point of taking an avatar in the metaverse will always be to do something. That could be socializing, playing games, going to virtual concerts, or UFC fights, but avatars aren’t mannikins. In the successful metaverse, they will be a copy of you in a different digital world.
See also: What is the Metaverse, and why does one have a fashion show?
Auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s have jumped into crypto with both feet as NFT sellers guarantee it. But now, Christie’s is going even further, moving a virtual version of its headquarters in New Bond Street, London, to Decentraland.
The five-story structure will serve as a display and sales venue for digital art – everything from NFT artwork to Old Masters – but privately it will be a meeting place.
“We see spaces like Decentraland as the next frontier for digital art where artists, collectors, and viewers alike can interact with each other from anywhere in the world and display artwork that is essentially rare and unique, but anyone can view it,” Michael Bohana said. Sotheby’s head of sales at the facility’s opening in June.
Even more, it is part of a larger area in Decentraland, the leading decentralized metaverse. Located in the Voltaire Art District, it is a neighborhood that will be populated by art galleries, making the virtual Sotheby’s part of a destination as well as a show.
It’s worth noting Samsung’s new – and temporary – addition to Decentraland.
The Samsung 837X metaverse experience is a digital version of the very large pop-up store it built at 837 Washington Street in New York’s trendy Meatpacking District to showcase products and other shows that debuted at CES in Las Vegas – the largest, most important tech fair and where brands tend to Electronics produces its largest advertisements and disclosures annually.
Described as an “experimental playground for people to discover the incredible possibilities when technology and culture collide,” the company said in its announcement that “as part of the next level experience, guests will embark on a journey where technology joins art, fashion, music and sustainability.”
The goal, according to the announcement, is to “get users to explore experiences unlocked with Samsung technology.”
The wording might be a little higher, but it makes the point. What Samsung has created is not a sales lounge or marketplace, but an experience. It’s similar to what Louis Vuitton did on its founder’s bicentennial, which was a fun experience to explore its roots and history. NFT gifts were part of the marketing event, not the core. Samsung is doing something similar, handing out three layers of rare avatar clothing – a racing jacket, helmet and boots.
The Samsung 837X has three basic components. Its core is the Connectivity Theatre, a showcase for the electronics giant’s CES stage, as well as an area that allows “guests to learn more about the powerful experiences that come from seamless connectivity and customized solutions powered by Samsung technology.”
But that won’t necessarily appeal to people who are probably not already buyers. There’s also the customization stage, which despite its name is a live event venue for a DJ-hosted dance party and takes place at the real Samsung 837 in New York City.
Then there is the Sustainability Forest, which highlights a campaign launched by Samsung to plant two million trees with NFT providing Proof of Planting. But there is also a portal to a land with millions of trees and a “legendary encounter” – in other words, a game.
“We are excited to tell our stories of connectivity, sustainability and personalization in a new way, in a unique space,” said Michelle Crossan Matos, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Samsung Electronics America. “The metaverse enables us to transcend physical and spatial boundaries to create unique virtual experiences that would not otherwise occur.”
Other brands combine commerce and expertise in an article published by Harvard Business Review this month, “How Brands Can Enter Metaverse,” and describes it as “social commerce.” The article noted that it is already a $36 billion industry.
Read also: In the Metaverse, NFTs can buy experiences, luxury, and eyeballs
According to the report, “the commercial applications of the metaverse are further enhanced by new behaviors that are emerging around purchasing products and services directly from social experiences.”
The report also stated that “Decentraland is a fully owned 3D virtual world for its users, allowing them to create virtual structures – from theme parks to galleries – and then charge users to visit them”.
Sharmista Dube, CEO of dating app-producer Match Group, said in a November earnings call that she envisions the metaverse consolidation as “a piano bar where people’s digital selves congregate around, but they are actually playing the piano at home and jamming with others.”
She said it can be “transformative for how people meet and get to know each other on a dating or social discovery platform and is closer to how people interact in the real world.”