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    FEATURED STORY OF THE WEEK

    The metaverse is coming, and it's going to change everything.

    Written by :
    Team Uvation
    | 9 minute read
    |February 2, 2022 |
    Industry : energy-utilities
    The metaverse is coming, and it's going to change everything.

    The metaverse is coming, and it's going to change everything. “The metaverse… lies at the intersection
    of human physical interaction and what could be done with digital innovation,” says Paul von Autenried,
    CIO at Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. in the Wall Street Journal.

     

    But what is the metaverse really, and what does it mean for your brand?

     

    In theory, the metaverse will be a ubiquitous digital reality that combines different digital spaces into
    one, overarching space. This creates a new world where people can both interact and engage in
    commerce, among myriad other activities.

     

    As big tech companies continue to invest in the metaverse, B2C business leaders are struggling to
    understand what it means for their brands. Just as the advent of the internet disrupted B2C
    verticals—with clear winners and losers—some B2C companies will fare better in the metaverse than
    others.

     

    In this article, we explore the opportunities and challenges that the metaverse presents for B2C
    businesses. We also provide insights on how business leaders can strategize and prepare for these
    changes. With the right strategic approach, your B2C company can start strong in this new,
    unpredictable digital paradigm.

     

    Origins of the Metaverse

     

    The metaverse was first conceived in the early 1990s by Neal Stephenson, author of the cyberpunk
    novel Snow Crash. In it, he described a virtual world that people could inhabit to escape the mundane
    realities of their lives.

     

    Fast-forward to today, and we are seeing this concept come to fruition with companies like Google,
    Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple all investing in foundational patents and technologies that might
    support it. Commercially, they hope to engage consumers and keep them locked into their ecosystems.

     

    How Consumers Will Experience the Metaverse

     

    In theory, the metaverse offers countless advantages for everyday people. For one, it provides
    distractions from the real world, and new ways to connect. This could be in the form of a evolved social
    media formats, where people can interact with friends and family in more dynamic, experiential ways.

     

    Users may access the metaverse via a virtual reality platform like Oculus Rift or Vive by HTC, which allow
    people to experience other worlds, gaming, and even other cultures. In time, the metaverse may
    become an important part of people's everyday lives, supporting all kinds of imaginative forms of
    engagement.

     

    Those include new ways for consumers to engage in commerce. This could be in the form of an online
    store that allows customers to purchase products or services. Or it could be in the form of a customer
    service portal where people can acquire services or get technical support for purchases.

     

    Already, some of the world’s biggest retailers are securing digital assets for future metaverse
    investments. In December 2021, Walmart filed several patents aligned with retail in a future metaverse,
    “including one for a Walmart-branded cryptocurrency and others for ‘virtual merchandise’ and non-
    fungible tokens (NFTs),” The Motley Fool reports. Even so, the metaverse is still in its early stages; there
    are countless unknowns about how it will evolve.

     

    Potential Business Advantages in the Metaverse

     

    For starters, the metaverse may support opportunities for brands to create immersive experiences that
    go beyond what's possible on current digital platforms. For retailers, that means “engaging with the
    consumers at the right time, on the media channel they prefer, and with the right content,” The Wall
    Street Journal describes, with scope and dimensions that vastly exceed what digital supports today.

     

    Brands may also use the metaverse to create virtual stores that allow customers to purchase products
    and services. This could be done several ways, including through VR or augmented reality platforms.
    Brands can be more seamless in how they blend digital experiences as well. For example, they might
    borrow elements from gaming platforms to enhance how they interact with consumers.

     

    The metaverse also provides opportunities to improve their remote and digital customer service
    experiences. Brands can create portals where customers can get help with their purchases or
    troubleshoot problems, for example. “Five Guys could create a virtual restaurant where customers can
    check out the menu, speak to a customer service avatar, and order food through DoorDash or Uber
    Eats,” as Entrepreneur describes. “The possibilities are endless.”

     

    In addition, the metaverse can be used to create social media platforms that are dedicated to specific
    brands. These platforms could provide an immersive customer experience that go beyond the confines
    of a third-party social media platform, enabling brands to engage with customers in deeper ways.

     

    How the Metaverse Will Impact Consumer Industries

     

     

    It’s difficult to conceive what this will look like in practice across consumer-facing industries. But here
    are a few ways the metaverse could shape specific industries that service everyday people:

     

    Clarity in Consumer Banking

     

    Banks could create new ways for customers to interact with their finances. For example, banks could
    create VR or augmented reality experiences that allow people to explore and interact with virtual
    representations of their accounts, investment options, and complex financial details like those found in
    loan agreements. This would give customers a more immersive experience and could provide them with
    a better understanding of their financial health.

     

    Immersive Planning in Consumer Travel

     

    Travel companies could use the metaverse to create new ways for customers to plan and experience
    their future travels. For example, they could create virtual representations of tourist destinations that
    allow people to explore them in VR before they go. This would give customers a better idea of what to
    expect and could help them make better decisions about where to go and how to prepare.

     

    Consumer Engagement in Retail

     

    Retailers could use the metaverse to create new ways for customers to interact with their products. For
    example, they could create virtual stores that allow customers to “try on” clothes or shoes before they
    buy them. This may help reduce the amount of returns that retailers experience.

     

    In addition, retailers could use the metaverse to create experiences that go beyond what's possible with
    current digital platforms. For example, they could create interactive product demonstrations that allow
    customers to explore the features of a product. This would give customers a better understanding of
    what they are buying and could lead to purchases retailers might have lost using current digital platforms.

     

    Better Accessibility in Healthcare

     

    Healthcare is not a B2C industry per se. But in time, the metaverse may impact even sensitive, highly
    personal industries like healthcare. For example, healthcare providers could use the metaverse to create
    new ways for patients to interact with their doctors. This could include virtual meetings or consultations
    in which patients can see and talk to their doctor from the comfort of their home.

     

    In addition, healthcare providers could use the metaverse to create new ways for patients to learn
    about their conditions. For example, they could create virtual representations of the human body that
    allow people to explore and learn about their own anatomy. This could help people make more
    informed decisions about treatment.

     

    Potential Challenges for B2C Companies

     

    The metaverse also poses several challenges for B2C businesses. For one, the metaverse will likely
    become a crowded place in terms of brands. It's difficult to stand out in a world where anyone can
    create a virtual space, presumably of any “size.”

     

    But generally, it’s difficult to predict how potential customers will approach and engage in this new
    environment. There are no analytics data on how consumers will use the metaverse the way analytics
    drives B2C industries today. Brands that succeed in the metaverse will need to create immersive
    experiences that are novel, engaging, and rich in value for consumers to participate.

     

    How to Prepare for Metaverse Adoption

     

    There are ways B2C companies can prepare for the metaverse, even without a clear picture as to how
    they will proceed. To start, they must begin theorizing how they can create immersive experiences that
    keep customers engaged. This may require changes in marketing, product development, and even
    company culture. Starting with the basics means understanding and aligning with hardware and digital
    platforms for creating virtual spaces before the metaverse becomes mainstream.

     

    In addition, brands should begin exploring tech providers’ plans and hypotheses about the metaverse
    now to get a sense of what’s possible. For example, some experts believe the metaverse will be highly
    decentralized, with minimal friction between ecosystems due to the inherent interoperability of
    blockchain, as Forbes describes. This would allow for “the transfer of assets, including cryptocurrencies,
    utility tokens, and NFTs” between commercial environments.

     

    Where possible, B2C companies should begin building relationships with Big Tech companies. These
    companies are likely to be key players in the metaverse and will have valuable insights on how to
    succeed there. For example, interoperability may require that companies “release their control over
    proprietary formats, or otherwise adopt wholly open-source ones,” as WIRED reports. There will be
    some necessary adaptation and integration for brands to achieve this.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Digital disruption is nothing new for B2C companies. But just like the advent of internet commerce in the
    1990s, the metaverse is untested. There are advantages to being either bullish or cautious about
    becoming an early adopter in terms of your brand. No matter your approach, it's through partnerships,
    adding value, and creating a detailed strategy with built-in flexibility that B2C brands are most likely to
    succeed.

     

    Partner with Uvation for Your Future Digital Strategy

     

    The consultants at Uvation can help you prepare your digital strategy for the metaverse as more details
    and strategic options come into focus. Contact a digital strategy expert and begin your journey today.

     

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