The Brands within the Metaverse
The metaverse is the trend that is revolutionizing the digital world, in Decentra University we explain how brands are already migrating to these worlds to offer their products and services.
Blockchain-based metaverse environments allow brands to offer more user benefits, such as increased interactivity and ownership of virtual items, but will it catch on?
Billion-dollar companies are taking the Metaverse by storm as consumers have shown heightened interest in virtual, interactive, three-dimensional experiences that take place online.
While the “Metaverse” is still a new concept, research firm Strategy Analytics found that the global Metaverse market is forecasted to hit nearly $42 billion by 2026. This very well may be the case, as a handful of businesses including Nike and Walmart have begun exploring consumer experiences in metaverse environments.
NFT utility for brands launching in the Metaverse
To understand how and why brands are leveraging the Metaverse, it’s key to point out the role that NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, play within these ecosystems. While the year 2021 saw an influx of NFTs, the rise of the Metaverse is predicted to highlight the importance of utility behind NFTs.
Adrian Baschuk, founding partner at Ethernity Chain an authenticated and licensed NFT platform says that every brand, company and notable figure will eventually have a metaverse and NFT integration.
Given this, Baschuk shared that Ethernity recently brought its IP to The Sandbox, a blockchain-based metaverse ecosystem. Specifically speaking, Ethernity has acquired a desirable plot of land in The Sandbox to host a gallery and fully licensed NFT store. Baschuk explained that this will allow The Sandbox users to purchase Ethernity NFT wearables and collectibles.
According to Baschuk, these wearable NFTs include athlete jerseys, which will be used to dress and provide special powers to The Sandbox avatars. “Dallas Cowboys’ Zeke and Dak will kick this off, as the players’ wearable jerseys and shoulder pads will boost a user's avatars’ skills and powers,” he said.
While this specific example may appeal to The Sandbox gaming community, the concept behind it is universal for brands entering the Metaverse. For instance, Baschuk explained that NFTs within virtual ecosystems allow for companies to monetize assets across a blockchain network, enhancing interactivity for consumers and fans.
To put this in perspective, consumer electronics giant Samsung recently announced that it will have a virtual replica of its New York physical store located within Decentraland, another leading metaverse ecosystem. The store, known as the “Samsung 837X shop,” will be accessible in Decentraland for a limited time.
A Samsung spokesperson told that establishing Samsung 837X as a metaverse brand will provide limitless possibility for consumers to connect with Samsung and its products in an immersive way.
Samsung’s spokesperson further mentioned that Decentraland specifically gave the company a platform to enable a true Web3 metaverse experience. They noted that the Samsung community wanted a metaverse store to feature interactive quests that would allow participants to earn wearables like NFT badges or opportunities to win exclusive Samsung branded clothing for avatars.
Overall, Samsung explained that its 837X store will serve as a foundation for the future, which will offer significant utility to its visitors. In turn, the company is looking at ways in which badges earned at 837X will offer access and utility for future events and experiences in its virtual space. “In the future, it’s our hope that everyone who visits our world will be able to enhance their online experience in the metaverse and their real-world experience with Samsung products,” commented Samsung’s spokesperson.
While Samsung was one of the first major brands to launch an online store on Decentraland this year, other organizations are following suit. Recently, Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open (AO), partnered with Decentraland to host the AO in the metaverse. This virtual environment contains key areas of Melbourne Park, such as Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park. AO Decentraland 2022 took place from January 17-30, mirroring the real-life tournament schedule.
The AO metaverse environment included entertainment centers where fans could watch replays of tennis matches, along with historical footage from past tournaments. He noted that, during the final weekend of the event, fans had access to behind-the-scenes footage showing players during training sessions and much more.
Decentraland users were able to walk around Melbourne Park with their avatars to collect wearables and play virtual games to win NFT.
Blockchain-based metaverse offers more, but will the mainstream catch on?
Given the unique experiences NFTs can bring to consumers and fans, it’s equally important to highlight the benefits offered by a blockchain-based metaverse ecosystem. For instance, while many brands have started to engage users through connected environments, blockchain networks enable digital asset ownership while demonstrating the true power of Web3.
Elaborating on this, Adam De Cata, head of partnerships at Decentraland, that the difference between a blockchain-based metaverse and a non-blockchain metaverse is interoperability.
De Cata added that open source platforms like Decentraland further allow users to connect their digital wallets to the platform to access particular builds and scenes that might be exclusive to a particular NFT they already hold: “We are still in the infancy of exploration, and it’s exciting to think of the possibilities moving forward with Web3.”
In regards to interoperability, Sebastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox, told that the Metaverse enables a digital economy, noting that a true virtual ecosystem should allow for an avatar to be used across a variety of platforms: “The Metaverse means that your avatar can function across a myriad of virtual worlds, with the same identity. This is only possible through blockchain technology, which puts the users in control of their identity, data and currency.”
Will metaverse experiences replace real life?
Metaverse experiences may be the next big innovation for brands and users, but some may be wondering if virtual environments will replace real-life experiences entirely. After all, this could very well be the case due to the advanced capabilities provided within blockchain-based metaverse environments.
For instance, while NFT utility has been brought to life through the Metaverse, the trillion-dollar e-commerce sector is being disrupted overall. To understand the scope of this, Justin Banon, co-founder of Boson Protocol a decentralized commerce protocol told that brands are ultimately seeking commerce opportunities. “The whole point of the Metaverse is that it's programmable and gameable, therefore offering full capabilities for a new wave of commerce.”
In turn, Banon explained that Boson Protocol has purchased one of the largest plots of land in Decentraland to host virtual shops that allow for NFT wearables to be purchased and then redeemed for physical items either online or at store locations. For example, Boson Protocol recently launched a virtual store with DressX, a retailer for digital fashion clothing, allowing the company to sell items to users in the metaverse that can be redeemed for physical versions. “We are getting more demand for Web3 features, like "digiphysical" offerings. There is no longer the demand for vanilla e-commerce,” he remarked.
Although it’s hard to predict the future traction of the Metaverse, industry experts remain confident that all brands will eventually adopt a metaverse model. Borget commented that he expects this trend to accelerate because brands are looking for new ways to engage with users digitally. “It makes sense for brands to give more value back to the users directly, rather than spending on advertising,” he remarked. And De Cata added that although “the Metaverse” is trending as a topic, he believes that these virtual worlds are just an extension of social media platforms.