Virtual Worlds: will your brand get it or regret it?
The digital frontier is expanding, and spatial computing and virtual worlds feel like its newest horizon. Don’t get it twisted though: it’s not just tech companies jumping in. Major brands are not just observing; they're actively participating and redefining customer engagement.
Let's dive into how they're making waves in this new digital realm.
Exclusive Virtual Sales & Events
Gucci marked its 100th anniversary with a unique experience in one of the most popular virtual worlds. Their "Gucci Garden" on Roblox showcased art exhibitions, themed rooms, and limited-edition avatar products. Meanwhile, Adidas collaborated with Fortnite to launch an exclusive virtual sneaker drop, allowing players to sport their favorite brand in-game with the “Time In” kicks.
Gamified Advertising Campaigns
Brands are leveraging the fact that Gen Z and Alpha see gaming as their second nature. Close to 90% of them identify as gamers. So what do brands do? Well, for example, Lamborghini introduced a new car model as an unlockable vehicle in Fortnite. Wendy's, on the other hand, created a unique character with a mission in the game, garnering significant attention and even winning influence awards.
Brands like Balenciaga have embraced the next frontier of the internet as well and have launched virtual fashion shows on Fortnite, allowing users to experience their latest collections in a unique, immersive environment. Burberry also ventured into the space, collaborating with Roblox to introduce a fresh line of virtual fashion.
Loyalty Campaigns in the Digital Realm
Brands are finding innovative ways to reward loyal customers in this 3-dimensional version of our internet. Research shows that 90% of consumers have a negative view of traditional loyalty programs. Why? Because they’re awfully lob-sided. “Give us your money, and we’ll reward you a tiny little bit”. Younger crowds aren’t having that anymore.
Forward-looking brands like Nike and Starbucks have added a unique layer to their loyalty program by rewarding customers with points (or “tokens”) for engaging with their brands in a more sustainable, two-way fashion. These programs add value, they don’t just extract value. Gen Z consumers really appreciate their favorite brands offering rewards in their favorite virtual worlds (Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, etc.)
Reinventing Customer Service
This new trend is also reshaping customer service.
Tommy Hilfiger allows customers to interact with products virtually on platforms like Fortnite, bridging the gap between virtual and physical items. HSBC, while closing physical branches, is investing in digital spaces within virtual worlds, aiming to offer enhanced service solutions and gamified experiences, as they understand that is where a lot of their target demographics are currently spending their time.
Engaging Customers through Virtual Worlds
Nike's "Nikeland" on Roblox is a testament to the power of virtual worlds for brand engagement. The initial Nikeland success pushed them to double down on this virtual world success by building “Airphoria” in Fortnite.
With millions of visits, it's clear that these virtual worlds are becoming a key tool for brands.
These virtual worlds are more than just a trend; they are a transformative space where brands are crafting their future strategies. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the question isn't if brands should start building in virtual world platforms, but how soon.
All that said, does your brand “get it”? Or will you miss out on the train and live to regret it?