Dusseldorf, New York At first glance, it all looks very interesting: the supermarket chain Kaufland called the island “Kaufisland” it acquired for the successful game world “Animal Crossing”. The avatar “Phil Leita” (which reads like “Branch Manager”) educates players in an entertaining way about sustainability in the food business.
This first default branch is more than a gimmick, it’s a strategic decision. Because appearing in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” one of Nintendo’s most successful video games with over seven million sales in Europe alone, is the first step into the Metaverse of the retail group’s Schwarz subsidiary. This is a buzzword and a collective term for worlds of digital experience created by games, artists, and also companies as virtual network spaces for fans, customers, and gamers.
Retailers and brands have high expectations of this. Fashion brand H&M already has its own island in “Animal Crossing”. On the Roblox gaming platform, which is considered one of the early prototypes of the Metaverse, both luxury retailers such as Ralph Lauren and sporting goods companies such as Nike with their own stores. US retailer Walmart has now protected its brands for launching into the Metaverse. They all hope not only for good marketing, but also for tangible sales.
“Metaverse also provides sales potential for brands and retailers,” says Helge Roof, CEO of digital marketing agency OneTwoSocial, which organized Kaufland’s appearance at Animal Crossing. He is convinced that there will be new business models out there. “People used to think that no one would buy shoes online — and then came Zalando.”
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The adidas example shows that money is indeed at risk. The sporting goods company is said to have paid millions for virtual land in the online game The Sandbox, on which it builds its own Adiverse. Adidas has also acquired its avatar from the currently most popular NFT series, the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Digital artworks are created using single cryptography using blockchain technology.
Non-Foldable Tokens (NFTs) often look like simple graphics. However, the technology behind it certifies all proprietary rights. This makes NFTs interesting, among other things, as a digital format for sales contracts, for example.
According to the OpenSea market, where bored monkeys are traded, the Adidas copy costs 46 ether – at the exchange rate at that time, the equivalent of about 130,000 euros. The avatar was named the Indigo Heart and is now used for marketing, wearing Adidas Originals of course. Because expensive avatars are circulating on the scene, led by sports stars and American musicians, among others, as identification and status symbols – like branded shoes, clothes or expensive watches.
A virtual Gucci bag sold for $4,000
Morgan Stanley expects luxury brands alone to generate about $50 billion in sales in the Metaverse by 2030. They’re still far from that. Ralph Lauren, for example, sells virtual clothes in his store on Roblox for prices between three and five dollars. However, Gucci is said to have already sold a virtual handbag for more than $4,000. Whether as a virtual accessory for the buyer’s digital photos or simply as a collector’s item, the possibilities are varied.
“Metaverse is the closest and most serious attempt to create a fully digital world after the failure of Second Life in the early 2000s,” said Martin Schulte, partner and consumer products expert at Oliver Wyman. The investments are huge and Metaverse has the potential to be as influential as the development of the Internet over the next 15 years.
Without any official announcement, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, filed a total of 30 different applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at the end of December to protect its brands for the virtual world. Apparently, the supermarket giant is also considering offering third-party services in the virtual world, according to a filing with the USPTO. The group, which has long been known primarily for its giant, cheap supermarkets on the highway’s edge, has already turned into a serious competitor to Amazon in recent years. And he wants to further expand this offensive position.
Walmart also wants to build showrooms for other retailers
In trademark application 97197301 dated December 30, Walmart wants to secure its own name for financial services, cryptocurrency, digital tokens, blockchain, and NFT, among other things. There has been real hype around NFTs in the past year.
On the same day, Walmart also applied for its own trademark under number 97197305 for communications services, in particular for the electronic transmission of “virtual reality” content and data. A full list of Virtual Trading Services can be found at 97197298.
The group has also included the “Walmart Connect” branding in three applications: among others, it aims to develop and design “virtual stores and virtual showrooms for others”. Thus Walmart could position itself as a developer of store concepts for other retailers.
“Walmart is constantly exploring how new technologies can shape future shopping experiences,” a spokeswoman for the US company said. Trademark registrations are a routine part of this innovation process. The approach is similar to Amazon’s. The American company is notorious for launching several test balloons at the same time to see what works.
Experts see ‘entirely new sources of income’
“It makes sense for Walmart to explore this space and adapt as a 100 percent company,” said Chris Walton, editor-in-chief of popular retail blog OmniTalk. Metaverse will give people a new way to interact socially. “And where there is human interaction, there is commerce, because as human beings, we care about how we appear to others.” He assumes that there will be “entirely new sources of income”.
“Retailers who get there first and understand how this is evolving will have a head start, like those who jumped into e-commerce 20 years ago and have been more successful than the laggards,” Walton says.
Digital marketing expert Rove also believes that it is very important for businesses to try out these new channels. “The presence we see today certainly aims to gain experience early,” he asserts. This means that the retailers are very close to the living environment of their target group of young people.
However, consumer goods expert Schulte is convinced that, apart from pioneers like Adidas or Ralph Lauren, many manufacturers initially focus less on virtual goods and instead focus on marketing their products to the real world. The consultant predicts that “Retailers who, for example, are reducing their store network and increasingly relying on delivery and e-commerce services, expect greater market penetration for their offerings in the Metaverse.”
Only in the next step will it also be a matter of virtual commerce on a large scale. He predicts that “within five to ten years, it is entirely possible to sell purely digital products via e-commerce stores.”
more: Salary up to €300,000 – Seven job profiles that can be created in the metaverse.