The Metaverse: Time to Ramp Up Your Learning Plan!

Marty Murk
VP, Platforms & Technology

Unless you live under a rock, deep in the ocean, or somehow don’t have access to “Web 1.0,” you’ve likely heard of the Metaverse. The term is credited to Neal Stephenson’s 1992 fiction novel, “Snow Crash.” The Metaverse is probably clearest in my head when I reflect on The Matrix franchise when Morpheus and Neo keep us guessing on what’s real vs. a digital simulation. Recent headlines on Meta (formally known as Facebook, Inc.) doubling down on its plans to become a Metaverse company helped elevate this topic even more mainstream. Maybe it’s my own LinkedIn connections in VR/AR space, but the topic is currently crowding my newsfeed. The largest sentiment? Confusion.

Meta’s dramatic announcement left many searching for clarity for what a metaverse is, what it means, and what to do about it. If you’re looking for those answers in this article, you may need to adjust your expectations. But I am here to affirm that you’re not alone in your confusion. We’ll keep learning about it together! A recent CNBC article does a great job giving the varying names it goes by (e.g. Metaverse, Multiverse, Omniverse, Co-experience) as well as telling a recap of recent earnings calls from top executives on their (often confusing) interpretation and (often lack of) strategy.

So, is the Metaverse here? Is it 5 years out? 10 years out? Like many things, the answer is a bit grey and murky. It depends on your expectation and definition.

  • Co-experiences, digital worlds, and virtual economies aren’t new to the Gaming category. Want a quick lesson? Have your kids describe Fortnite, World of Warcraft or Second Life.
  • Facebook…er, Meta…has already launched Horizon Workrooms, with Horizon Home coming soon.
  • Nike launched its own virtual world, Nikeland, with Roblox online games, helping customers interact through sports games (think tag, the floor is lava).
  • Disney, with its nearly endless catalog of IP, has big plans; and has already started dabbling by collaborating with gaming studios to bring in its characters and narratives.

The pain point right now for most businesses is how to take an “unrelated business” to the Metaverse. Maybe you’re not quite ready…however it’s never too early to start preparing. Things that could help:

  • Ideation Sessions: Let consumers help build and inspire ideas! Qualitative sessions can be great to get consumers riffing off-of each other (e.g., building, adding, subtracting). CMB’s done some great work, with our strong internal qualitative group (ask us what happens when “Shark Tank” meets “Focus Groups”).
  • Test Concepts: Got an idea…any idea? During such an innovative, disruptive time it can be a great moment to be inclusive and embrace new thoughts. It can be fast and relatively inexpensive to run those ideas through traditional concept tests. Does the idea generate interest? Is it different? Does it work with your brand? What parts create interest (or hesitation/fear)? From a business perspective, its beneficial to prioritize ideas with merit as soon as possible. However, it can be even more important to eliminate the losers before investing too much time and effort.
  • Screen the Right Partners: During Facebook Connect, Zuckerberg mentioned that the Metaverse will be built together. That idea intuitively makes sense to me. However, I’d also consider…brands will find ways to take their “unrelated business” ideas into the Metaverse together! Merging X and Y Brands to make Z experience. Who should you partner with? Consumers can help think about the brand equity in potential partners that may be great fits as you move forward.

I can’t wait to see what’s next! I need to see a home delivery mash-up (e.g., Uber Eats, DoorDash, Instacart) with fast-caul restaurants (e.g., Darden Restaurants, Yum! Brands, Bloomin Brands) so that I can grab a bite to eat with my friends and family that live 800 miles away in rural Michigan. Or maybe attend the next work conference, that can blend one-way educational presentations with hands-on learning experiences.

Until then, it’s never too early to learn how the Metaverse will impact your business strategy. Get ahead of the curve. Contact us.