PARIS — For luxury brands wondering how to take their first steps in the metaverse, Morin Oluwole has this advice: start experimenting.
The director and global head of luxury at Meta detailed some of the ways in which the new iteration of the internet will change trading and communications for fashion and beauty companies in her presentation at the WWD Metaverse Symposium held in Paris on June 28, titled “Where Luxury Fits in the Metaverse.”
Through the different tools it’s building, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, hopes to help brands unlock the potential of these new platforms that span across gaming, retail, work and socializing. “Our apps and services are going to serve as core tools that are going to be the basis of the metaverse,” Oluwole said.
“You’re going to see different investments across hardware, or software, that unlock this potential to define reality and create new opportunities for people to express themselves and also share different kinds of contents,” she detailed.
“We’ve seen an evolution in terms of how people connect. So just five years ago, for example, on Facebook, most communication was via text and images, and now that’s primarily video and tomorrow, that’s going to be 3D immersive experiences. So this is an opportunity and a challenge for all businesses and all brands,” she said.
“Think about how you represent yourself and how you can communicate with consumers in the metaverse, integrate more valuable and more useful experiences for them as you build consumer loyalty,” Oluwole encouraged attendees.
The executive noted that Balenciaga, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren are among brands that have made incursions into the metaverse. Meta recently opened an Avatars Store where users can purchase digital outfits from Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne for their avatars on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
But for brands that are still hesitating, she had some compelling statistics.
“Over 3 billion people are spending over $100 billion in virtual goods, so the appetite, the desire, is already there,” Oluwole said. She added that one in four beauty enthusiasts globally have bought a virtual item in a video game, and 20 percent of luxury shoppers have used virtual reality and augmented reality devices to make a purchase.
Still, she acknowledged that change won’t happen overnight. “The metaverse is going to be a five- to 10-year journey, just as the mobile revolution was about a 10- to 15-year journey,” she predicted.
Touting “a new era of retail,” she said brands will have to prepare to welcome their customers physically, digitally and virtually.
“As we see that the retail channels are blurring, we also see that we’re entering into a new era of a hybrid multidimensional shopping experience. And this is where it’s really important to think about the next step,” Oluwole said.
“A great way to learn is via experimentation,” she advised. “As brands, you can really push the frontier of creativity within the metaverse and offer experiences that are not able to be replicated in real life.”
Having focused on building social commerce and engaging with digital goods and NFTs, Meta is looking to what comes next. “In the near future, we imagine that there will be bridges built to really unite more and more deeply this physical and virtual world, for example, rich experiences in virtual reality,” she said.
The tech giant is turning its attention to the next generation of technologies such as AR, via its Spark AR Studio, and virtual events, through the Horizon Worlds gaming platform on its virtual reality headset Oculus.
“Many of the advanced technologies that we are building today are leading to this multidimensional world,” Oluwole said.