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Mastering the Metaverse Early

Although it's early days, Meta's Karin Tracy shared numerous insights about how brands should be harnessing the power of the metaverse — and planning for a virtual future.

The metaverse is one of beauty’s biggest buzzwords, but many brands and retailers are still grappling over whether or not they need to engage — and if so, how.

The answer is an unequivocal yes, said Karin Tracy, head of industry, beauty, fashion, luxury and retail, at Meta, who drew parallels between the early days of the internet and the present.

“It’s early days to talk about the metaverse, but this is the next big thing,” she said. “The metaverse is the disruptive successor to the mobile web that will combine everything we love about smartphones — all of the connectivity, the personalization. And we’ll take it to the next level.”

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, calls this next generation “the embodied internet,” because rather than just looking at screens, users will be interacting with them.

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“Instead of being passive consumers of media, we will now be active participants,” said Tracy, “and your consumers are going to have expectations of you both physically, digitally and now virtually.”

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Already — data shows that beauty consumers are starting to engage in the metaverse. According to Tracy, 20 percent of luxury shoppers are engaging in VR and AR, not just for exploring, but also for purchasing, and it’s expected that soon 25 percent of all people will be spending at least an hour a day in the metaverse, for entertainment, gaming and social, but also shopping. “This is the piece we must think through,” Tracy said.

Meta calls its vision of future shopping “multidimensional discovery commerce,” and Tracy said channels, content and conversion will need to happen seamlessly. “The key is you can’t be thinking of it in silos,” she said.

As an example, she cited a campaign Adidas did to relaunch its Stan Smith sneaker brand, deploying AR effects to engage and immerse consumers in the brand. Consumers could create icons of themselves that looked like the famous drawing of Smith on the sneaker, for example, and the campaign was brought to life in stores, too.

Influencers and creators, whom Tracy called the “builders and artisans” of the metaverse, will be key to the development of virtual shopping. “Sixty-three percent of younger consumers trust creators more than brands,” she said. “It is these creators who will be building the metaverse of tomorrow and it is a huge opportunity for them.”

In fact, Meta has invested about $150 million to help creators harness the power of augmented reality and virtual reality. The company opened the Spark AR Studio, to enable creators to tell their stores in more immersive and connected ways.

She also made a case for the continued strength of social shopping, noting that 60 percent of brands are discovered on Instagram and that 75 percent of people say they want to take action and purchase a product when they see it in their feed.

“The most important thing,” Tracy summarized, “is to continue to experiment, because you will lead by learning with us.”

Acknowledging that everyone is trying to figure out what the future looks like, she said the answer lies in the early days of the internet. “Every 10 to 15 years, there is a major technological advancement that changes the game,” Tracy said. “This is one of those moments.”