The Direct To Avatar Economy in the METAVERSE
Long time no see! I’ve been very busy at MATE HOUSE, and as a result, the last newsletter I wrote wasn’t at the level I wanted to be shared (See? I’m nice! I don’t spam you!). But now I have something trippy to share with you: THE DIRECT TO AVATAR ECONOMY!
I am excited about this newsletter, and you should be too. I use a descriptive quote to begin trend forecasting classes attributed to the futurist and sci-fi writer William S. Gibson, ”The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Keep this in mind as you read on. At the end of the newsletter, I have a few questions for you.
Last June, I wrote a newsletter entitled IS FASHION ADDRESSING EXPERIENCE AND MEANING IN NEW WAYS? In which I noted, “We are seeing how virtual fashion shows, virtual showrooms, launching collections in video games, and dressing our virtual representations in designer clothes are practices now emerging into the mainstream.”
Fashion, in reality, can be very old school – It took the pandemic to bring about the acceleration of the adoption of these techs. Now, a year later, with everything that has happened, I am revisiting my thoughts and, as always, asking myself – “What’s new?, What has changed?” And of course, ”Why?”.
The answer to my questions lies in THE METAVERSE and the new DIRECT TO AVATAR model that has sprung up from it.
Let’s go for a walk in the Metaverse first.
“The Metaverse is an immersive shared virtual environment that converges multiple realities (augmented, virtual, physical, etc.) for a place to gather, socialize and work.” – Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. The metaverse is where you will find gamers in virtual hangouts perfecting their avatars (digital identities) and showing them off to the digital world.
Have you watched the 2018 Steven Spielberg adaptation of the book Ready Player One? the sci-fi fantasy set in 2045 where much of humanity uses the OASIS, a virtual reality simulation, to escape the real world? A much-quoted line from it explains the appeal of the metaverse “People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay because of all the things they can be.” Limitless avatar transformation was cool then, and it’s even cooler now.
One of the metaverse leaders in the transformation of avatars is the online platform Roblox. All games are made by its users and are free, but you can buy and spend Robux, a virtual currency that players can use on aesthetic items otherwise known as ‘skins’ (digital outfits and identities) in Roblox games. These aesthetic items are the reason fashion brands are partnering up with the platform and revolutionizing the industry.
In my last newsletter, I highlighted Gucci’s disruptive partnership with Balenciaga. Alessandro Michele’s creative vision seems to know no bounds, especially when it comes to partnering up. In Roblox’s blog last week, it announced: a virtual Gucci Garden space opening its doors to everyone on Roblox for two weeks, starting today, May 17th”. The virtual exhibit mimics the House’s Gucci Garden Archetypes, an immersive multimedia experience at the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence, Italy.
Of course, both the physical and virtual exhibits feature boutiques with limited edition items. In the virtual boutique, they are created by game developer and digital artist, RookVanguard. It seems inconceivable, but a digital Gucci Dionysus bag just sold for 4,115 dollars which is more than the 3,400 dollars price tag of its physical counterpart in a store. Yes, a digital-only asset that exists exclusively in and with no value outside of the Roblox metaverse.
Digital Gucci bag sold for $4,115USD vs. Physical Gucci bag sold for $3,400USD
The reactions to the news on @thefashionlaw post are great takeaways:
One thing is clear, the current Direct to Consumer (D2C) model of manufacturers selling directly to consumers is outdated. If you want to engage people in the metaverse, you should prepare for a new model, Direct to Avatar. D2A refers to an emerging business model where brands and creators can sell their products directly to a person’s virtual avatar (digital identity).
As with all trends, it is vital to understand the drivers and needs of the consumers behind them, who we will refer to as “Digi-Sapiens.” The digital-only couture fashion house, The Fabricant, coined this term. They, along with every other agency focusing on Gen-Z consumer research, tell us that Digi-Sapiens are people who:
Have grown up blurring reality and fantasy
Have digital identities in games and virtual hangouts
Consider their avatars as extensions of themselves.
In-game ‘skins’ (digital outfits and identities) are a long-established norm of the gaming world.
Believe that virtual fashion is as important as having style in real life.
Love individuality and want to express themselves uniquely
Are trendsetters, trend chasers, and early adopters of any technology that upgrades and frees up their existence.
Value the environment, scarcity, authenticity, and exclusivity and challenge social constructs
Consider consumption as access rather than possession.
Balenciaga has released its Fall 2021 fashion collection as a video game entitled
It is important to remember that there is a flip side to every trend. Think of the quote we asked you to remember at the beginning of this letter, ”The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed,” and help me ponder these questions.
As brands/people get more creative in the metaverse, will they become less in reality? – This one has my head spinning.
Does everyone benefit by cutting out the middleman in a D2A marketing model? – Who wins and who loses?
Do you think your tribe is engaging in the metaverse? If the answer is yes, how?
Can you start weaving digital products into your brand’s offering? If yes, which ones, why?, and How?
I am still contemplating the duality of my feelings toward the metaverse being part of my own life. I loved exploring the unique virtual space created by Roblox x Gucci and was excited by the idea of purchasing a product for my Avatar. However, I really enjoy the multi-sensational experience of a beautifully curated show in the natural world. I cannot wait to jump on a plane to Florence and see the actual Gucci Garden in all its glory.