Retailers are already spending — and making — money in the metaverse. But can a virtual shopping experience ever be as fun?
The numbers were all too real for a company betting on the power of imagination.
Share prices of Facebook owner Meta fell into a freefall late Wednesday after the company reported poorer-than-expected earnings results for the last quarter of 2021.
The newly rebranded "metaverse first" company has been spending heavily on its metaverse ambitions as Facebook's user growth has slowed and its core advertising business has taken a hit.
As the latest figures show, shifting gears will be risky and expensive, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said his vision of the metaverse is still at least a decade away from reality. But that hasn't stopped retailers from experimenting with a concept that some say will be the next generation of the internet — and just as lucrative.
Primed by gaming
Loosely defined, the metaverse refers to the idea of virtual, interconnected worlds underpinned by virtual reality and blockchain technologies, where people can meet for work and play. Many of the concepts behind this idea have existed for years in the gaming realm, including the idea that people will spend money on digital goods.
"There is vast empirical evidence from gaming, where people spend tons of money for all these not functional, but just aesthetic, add-ons," Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, professor of marketing and media at Münster University and academic director of the XRLab@MCM, which focuses on metaverse research, told DW. "These are layers that you put on your avatar, customized to match your personality. That's relevant, and I think, for brands, that's good."
A similar logic drove German grocery chain Kaufland to develop a branded island within the social video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
"We reach our respective target groups best where they already are," Kaufland spokeswoman Annegret Adam told DW. "More and more people are moving into virtual worlds, with the gaming world receiving a lot of attention, especially from the generation born around the turn of the millennium."
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