The FoodNavigator Podcast: The metaverse – the future of commerce or fool’s paradise?
Ever since Facebook’s rebrand as Meta, we’ve been hearing a lot about this term. What is it? The word was first coined in a dystopian 1992 novel and is now defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a “virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users”.
People can’t eat or taste things virtually. But as the world becomes more digital, many industries – including food and drink - are seeking new and inventive ways to expand their reach and become more accessible to a new generation of consumers.
How can food and beverage companies stand out by venturing into the world of virtual reality? And are those who are hesitant about entering the metaverse going to end up looking foolish or sensible?
Emma Chiu, Global Director of Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, notes a number of food and drink companies leveraging opportunities presented by the metaverse.
It has just published a new report based on interviews with over 3,000 consumers and business representatives aged between 16 to 65 in the US, UK and China.
Although awareness of the metaverse has more than doubled in less than a year, it concludes, understanding how it works remains low among those surveyed. But despite being unable to explain the metaverse, consumers believe it promises to impact our lives significantly, and among those who know what the metaverse is, two-thirds think it will be life-changing, with 74% stating it is the future.
Andrew Wardlaw is Chief Ideas Officer at the agency MMR Research. He believes that as private labels steal a march on them, partly thanks to rising inflationary pressures, brands need to change the way they engage with consumers. The metaverse is one such tactic.
PerfectTed, which sells Matcha powered energy drinks, is one brand keen to explore the potential of the metaverse.
It has purchased a virtual ‘plot' in the Metaverse as an augmented reality experience, where its customers will soon be able purchase its products virtually and receive them in real life. It hopes the move will lead to ‘increased brand awareness, increased traffic to the website and more people trying its products’
Co-founder Levi Levenfiche said: “We are conscious that there is an ongoing shift in the way that we communicate, interact, and consume digitally. PerfectTed wants to be at the forefront of this change.”