NRF’s Big Show got underway in New York City on Sunday, marking the conference’s return to the Javits Center after a virtual version in 2021.We’ll be back with a recap tomorrow, but today: one of the buzziest topics to come up in many sessions–the metaverse.
Don’t believe the hype? Emma Chiu, global director at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, led a session on what retailers and brands should know about the multiverse. She opened with a slide showing a Daily Mail headline from December 2000: “Internet ‘may just be a passing fad as millions give up on it.’”
Her point: Yeah, there’s plenty of hype around the metaverse, as there was about the web in those heady Information Superhighway days. But it’s not a flash in the pan(demic). Chiu had the numbers:
- 66% of consumers “prefer to engage with brands digitally.”
- 73% find it “easier to interact with brands with a digital presence.”
- 85% believe “digital presence will be essential for a brand to be successful in the future.”
Real money for virtual goods? Some people can’t fathom why anyone would spend as much on sneakers for an avatar as they would for an IRL pair. But Chiu noted Gen Z’s tendency to attach more value to experiences than material objects—aka NOwnership. Only 26% of Gen Z think owning a home is extremely important, for example, compared to almost 35% of millennials, according to a recent Apartment List survey.
In a session about how to reach Gen Z consumers, Meagan Loyst, an investor at venture capital firm Lerer Hippeau and founder of the group Gen Z VCs, agreed. She said that “the metaverse is creating interesting cultural moments”—and revenue streams.
- Loyst noted that a digital-only Gucci bag sold for more than $4,000 on Roblox.
- Loyst, who’s 24, said she’s not that spendy, but she hangs out in Paris World in Roblox, and is glad that her avatar is well-appointed in case she runs into Paris Hilton’s avatar some day.
- Over the holiday break, Loyst said she immersed herself in the metaverse and wrote a 9,000-word intro for newbies. It explains how fashion brands like Vans, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga, Gucci, and Uniqlo are connecting with consumers in the metaverse.
“Gen Z is powering a lot of the energy to the metaverse and it’s important for brands to have a presence there,” said Loyst during her presentation.–AAN