As part of a new partnership with BASF Personal Care, BEAUTYSTREAMS is delighted to lend its expert industry insider perspective to contribute to BASF Personal Care’s, D’lite. Available in the concept collection section of the D’lite site, BEAUTYSTREAMS exclusive trend reports can be accessed by all registered members. One of BEAUTYSTREAMS’ exclusive reports for D’lite focuses on the Socio-Virtual Shift and how new technologies will change the consumer landscape, and many industries, in years to come.
As the metaverse emerges, it is impacting a myriad of areas of society. From shopping to commerce, from how one communicates, to philanthropy, and political collaboration; from health and wellness; this new dimension of reality is having far-reaching effects.
BUILDING THE METAVERSE SOCIETY
As each new function or application of the Metaverse emerges, society has to grapple with what implications this may have for the future, with many aspects of the metaverse a double-edged sword.
The Financial Times reported in March 2023 that according to Goldman Sachs research, “’generative’ AI systems such as ChatGPT, which can create content that is indistinguishable from human output, could spark a productivity boom that would eventually raise annual global gross domestic product by 7% over a 10-year period.” However, the report noted that “if the technology lived up to its promise, it would also bring ‘significant disruption’ to the labor market, exposing the equivalent of 300 million full-time workers across big economies to automation.”
With the Metaverse era looking set to emerge, we examine the influence of the socio-virtual shift and how its changes are being adopted and managed by brands and institutions now, and what that is set to mean for the future.
TECHNOLOGIES EMPOWER RETAIL EXPERIENCES
In an age of uncertainty, brands are looking to create unique, innovative, and unexpected experiences in order to achieve true differentiation. Part of this evolution will be seen in amplified customer service and augmented experiences. Emotional connection between the brand and the consumer is incredibly valuable and research indicates that cultivating and sim
Augmented experiences will also be key to the future of retail. AR mini-games and AI and AR touch-free, hyper-realistic, virtual try-on experiences have proven successful in increasing consumer engagement and conversion rates. Indeed, e-commerce platform Shopify reported in 2022 that “merchants who add 3D content to their stores see a 94% conversion lift, on average.”
The continued evolution of gesture technologies, haptics, artificial intelligence, holographic, and virtual technologies, combined with in-store augmented displays and micro-robotic manufacturing, is also set to allow shoppers to customize their products and experiences and shop on their terms in rich, connected, and more meaningful ways. The store of the future will be a premium space that spotlights education, training, community engagement – and, most importantly, opportunities for novelty and fun.
By 2027, it’s likely that consumers will select key brands to act as lifestyle partners, who will become an integral part of their everyday lives, including how they spend. Brands that focus on creating a sense of consumer ownership and autonomy via commerce are set to succeed in evolving their connection with consumers.
We expect commerce in the metaverse to focus on three core areas, all of which are already happening today. Virtual to virtual is the ability to purchase virtual items from a virtual space. This has been happening for years in video games – the ability to buy items such as skins, avatars, and powerups. Virtual to physical is the possibility of purchasing physical goods from a virtual environment. The fast-food industry has leaned into this transaction to enable physical meal deliveries via virtual-world games and experiences. NFTs have also become a new form of loyalty card as consumers expect branded NFTs to unlock loyalty perks, exclusive experiences, or a physical product. Physical to virtual, meanwhile, is the ability to purchase or receive virtual goods based on purchasing a physical product. This is frequently seen in the children’s toy space where the purchase of a physical toy can offer redeemable codes for virtual skins and toys for virtual-world avatar babies.
Consumers place much value on virtual goods. In fact, in a survey conducted by Razorfish, an interactive agency that’s part of Publicis Group, of early web3 adopters aged between 16 and 64 years old, 71% believe virtual goods “are equal to or more valuable than physical goods. They see them as a ‘luxury’ item.” To build on this positive sentiment, brands creating virtual goods should ensure they are truly creating value and that they are enhancing the consumer experience.
How can brands create Metaverse experiences with purpose, a crucial element in how younger consumers in particular view brands? To create a sense of mindfulness for those visiting the Metaverse, brands are creating experiences in the virtual world to help consumers prioritize their health, their mindfulness and their sense of community. While certain brands are guiding users to outdoor locations that are conducive to meditation, other brands are creating solutions that allow consumers to be rewarded for prioritizing their health, with their movements earning them both points and real money.
While prioritizing mental and physical health is something brands are introducing into the virtual world, organizations are harnessing the Metaverse for political good and collaborative communities, creating spaces to exchange ideas and addressing collective issues.
Are interactions with avatars set to become more realistic and human-like? In a December 2022 Wired article, David Baszucki, Roblox’s ceo, argued that “self-expression in immersive digital spaces won’t just be about your virtual hairdo, but conveying your genuine feelings,” with “2023 [set to] be a breakout year for people bringing their fully realized selves into the digital space.”
Baszucki cites the brand’s emerging technology that captures “real-time facial expressions from a user’s camera and [translates] it onto their avatar.” He says, “because this innovation will include the broad range of facial expressions and nonverbal cues we are so used to in everyday life, it will allow human co-experience in shared immersive spaces to be so much richer.”
Virtual identities can be a way for brands to create a deeper emotional connection with consumers. Such technology enables brands to have human-like interactions in the metaverse, and to offer empathetic support and curated customer care through the shopping, learning, or event-based experiences.
While today’s avatars may be lacking the true authenticity and naturality of human-to-human interactions, it’s clear that technology is evolving to indicate that in the future, avatars won’t feel so different from humans.
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