Defining Web3, Metaverse, NFTs and Blockchain
There is a lot of media and buzz around the terms Web3, metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and blockchain. However, like me, the public is still trying to wrap their heads around these terms. According to a Forbesa January 24, 2022, article, Web1 is described as the original internet, Web2 is the user-generated web made popular by social media, and Web3 is the next evolution of the internet, which is decentralized and still being defined and developed. The simplest definition of the metaverse is “an immersive, interactive environment generated by a computer,” according to Techopediab. An NFT is an acronym for a non-fungible token, which is “a unique digital asset [that represents real-world objects], bought with cryptocurrency [digital or virtual currency] for which ownership data is stored on a blockchain,” according to a March 31, 2022, Moneyc article. A blockchain is “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible, network,” according to Miriam-Webster dictionaryd. Blockchain and NFT technologies are interwoven with the metaverse and are leading Web3 development.
To enter a metaverse, a user needs to create an avatar (an icon or figure that represents a person). Roblox and Decentraland are two examples of popular metaverse platforms. In these virtual worlds, users have the opportunity to socialize, participate in 3D immersive experiences, and purchase virtual goods such as NFTs. More advanced users of the metaverse use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) gear such as headsets. Brands are experimenting with “Phygital” (a portmanteau of the words physical and digital) models with a hybrid of offline and online consumer engagement strategies. Regardless of the technology or metaverse platform, food, beverage, and beauty consumer brands and services are entering the metaverse with the hopes of acquiring new consumers.
Consumer Awareness & Attitudes Towards the Metaverse
Gamers are early adopters of the metaverse since video games like Fortnite and Roblox offer virtual worlds and events within them. For example, according to a Razorfish studye, Gen Z gamers spend twice as much time hanging out with friends in the metaverse (12.2 hours per week) than they do in real life (6.6 hours). 52% of Gen Z gamers feel more like themselves in the metaverse than in real life and 33% of them would like to experience building a career there. The metaverse is not limited to gamers. According to a Morning Consult studyf, about 2 in 5 adults said they would like to create an avatar to represent them in the metaverse, and 31% said they would buy virtual items for it. Furthermore, a January 2022 Gartner reportg predicted that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse to work, shop, attend school, socialize or consume entertainment by 2026.
Food & Beverage Brands Take A Bite Out of the Metaverse
Consumer food and beverage brands and services are interested in reaching new audiences and the metaverse is the latest platform. Alcohol brands and fast food restaurants are joining the metaverse with unique experiences, games, and merchandise. Some brands are combining virtual worlds with in real life (IRL) events and/or products.
Cheers in the Metaverse
For Coachella, Absolut Vodka created Absolut.Land, a three-floor virtual installation in Decentraland. The Decentraland building looked like a bottle of Absolut and during the live event, visitors could visit the Absolut tent and use a kiosk to bartend virtually on the first floor and distribute virtual wearables to those visiting the metaverse at home. The second floor enabled users to guide their avatar through a gallery of Absolut ads and take selfies while the third floor featured a rainbow-themed Pride room, where wearables were given to those who posted about their experience on social media. Users could visit the rooftop garden to listen to Swedish House Mafia’s new album, “Paradise Again.” Buffalo Trace auctioned off five, six-liter bottles of its O.F.C. Vintage 1982 Bourbon Whiskey on BlockBar, a direct-to-consumer NFT platform for wine and spirit brands. The BlockBar holds the NFT that represents the owners’ bottle’s authenticity and ownership and over time the value is expected to increase. The owner can trade the NFT or exchange it to receive the physical bottle. In March, Heineken created a Heineken advertisement poking fun at the metaverse with the launch of Heineken Silver, its first metaverse beer through Decentraland. According to the press release, the beer is “brewed with Binary Coded Hops grown by NPC (non-player character) farmers and our special A-yeast, usually brewed in horizontal tanks, has been replaced with A-Pixels.” Inspired by gaming, Coca-Cola dropped the Zero Sugar Byte limited-edition. According to Coke, it “brings the flavor of pixels to life in a limited-edition beverage that transcends the digital and physical worlds.” Bored Breakfast Club, a new direct-to-consumer coffee brand, created a collection of 5,000 unique NFTs to kickstart a member-based coffee subscription. Consumers who have ownership of an NFT can unlock the brand’s exclusive coffee shipments. To date, there are 2,600 owners of the minted NFTs and they qualify for a free “rewards” shipment when a new coffee blend is released.
Bon Appétit in the Metaverse
Similar to consumer brands, Quick-service restaurants and food communities are entering the metaverse to interact with their customers. In April, Wendy’s teamed up with Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality game from Meta (formerly FaceBook), to open the Wendyverse for Meta Quest 2 users. Visitors can visit Wendyverse Town Square Central, a Wendy’s virtual restaurant, where players can go behind the counter and meet up with friends and players can play basketball with a virtual Baconator at the BiscuitDome. On April 7, in honor of National Burrito Day, Chipotle introduced a Chipotle Burrito Builder game in its virtual restaurant in Roblox. The first 100,000 Roblox players to successfully roll a burrito in the game earned Burrito Bucks, which can be exchanged for an entrée code that can be used at a real-life Chipotle location. In addition, the Chipotle Burrito Builder Burrito made with white rice, black beans, chicken, fresh tomato salsa, tomatillo red-chili salsa, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and guacamole is the first real-world menu item created by the metaverse community. It is available for a limited time and is only accessible by Chipotle Rewards members. Papa John’s has unveiled its own series of nine NFTs of virtual bag designs inspired by the pizza delivery hot bag. The chain was founded in 1984 and in a nod to the date, the brand released 19,840 tokens using Tezos, an energy-efficient blockchain. By scanning a QR code on a pizza box leaflet, via their delivery email or through Papa John’s social media accounts, fans can redeem the meta-fashion accessory. On Discord, Chef Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn debuted CHFTY Pizzas, a collection of NFTs that are various characters of pizza slices on the Ethereum blockchain. The chefs are building a membership-based community of chefs and foodies with an online presence and real life events. Cordia Corporation designed a Crypto Food Hall with 1,000 chef NFTs (500 men and 500 women digital representations of chefs). Each NFT is unique and represents various cuisines, culinary styles, and personalities such as Chef Tasty, Chef Yummy, and Chef Nasty. Token holders will then be invited to cooking events virtually and in person and receive discount codes for virtual restaurants. OffLimits Cereal teamed up with Open3 to launch a 2,500-piece collection of NFTs that are artists’ interpretations of OffLimits’ illustrated characters Spark, Flex, Zombie, and Dash. On Discord, holders of these NFTs will collaboratively design an IRL cereal box to be printed on the brand’s packaging and eventually be created in the physical form. Gushers created a virtual limited-edition, hand-designed Gusher sneaker in ComplexLand, a shoppable, virtual destination by Complex. Gushers sent fans on a “Sole Quest” to find a special code. Those who successfully found a winning code could outfit their virtual avatar in the Gushers sneaker and unlock a chance to win a pair of the exclusive sneakers in real life.
Beauty Wants In On The Action
Like food and beverage brands, beauty brands are hopping on the metaverse bandwagon. UK niche brand Rock Perfumes created The Scent of the Metaverse NFT with a 30 people co-creator panel who purchased digital tickets to join a private perfumery group. Together the group created a limited scent, which features notes of white smoke, circuitry, rose, and incense. There are only 100 physical bottles that can be purchased online through Rock Perfumes’ website. In March, Lottie London joined the metaverse through Decentraland. In celebration of the launch of its new nail collaboration with celebrity nail artist Chaun Legend, Lottie London hosted a virtual event. Attendees clicked to receive a branded POAP (proof of attendance protocol) collectible token, which could be exchanged for a virtual avatar makeup look. The event was so successful that the brand had to mint an additional 1,000 POAP tokens because the original 1,000 ran out in less than 12 hours. For the Metaverse Fashion Week, Estée Lauder was a Decentraland exclusive beauty brand partner. Estée Lauder gave out 10,000 free Advanced Night Repair serum NFTs. Users were able to go inside the digital bottle, which then gave their avatar a “glowing, radiant look.” M·A·C Cosmetics launched a limited-edition Viva Glam x Keith Haring NFT collection in the metaverse. The collection features three illustrations of M·A·C Viva Glam lipsticks decorated with Haring’s artwork. It is offered in three varying tiers: Keith Haring Red Rare ($25) up to 5,000 minted on demand, Keith Haring Blue Exclusive ($150) 250 pieces, and Keith Haring Yellow Icon ($1,000) 25 pieces. All primary sales from the Viva Glam x Keith Haring NFT collection will be donated to the M·A·C Viva Glam Fund and 2.5% of secondary sales will be donated to The Keith Haring Foundation. Rihanna has filed a trademark to sell Fenty Beauty products as virtual cosmetics and includes “downloadable virtual goods comprising cosmetics, makeup, and hair accessories” for use in online virtual worlds, retail stores, online environments, NFTs, and digital media.
The Future Is Digital
There are endless creative possibilities with the metaverse as Web 3 continues to be developed. Food, beverage, and beauty consumer brands and services are in the early stage of experimenting with the metaverse and combining both digital and physical worlds. Consumers are socializing and finding entertainment in the metaverse. They are increasingly aware of consumer brands and are beginning to engage both online and offline. As brands and consumers get comfortable with this technology, expect to see unique food, beverage, and beauty products and services launch. According to Digital currency investment company Grayscale Investmentsh, the metaverse will be a trillion-dollar revenue opportunity. Furthermore, WGSN predicts the Fluid states trend, which is described as moving from direct-to-consumer to direct-to-avatar. The concept is the fluid use of online and offline platforms and spaces to engage consumers. “By 2024, consumers and brands will inhabit increasingly fluid realities – moving seamlessly between digital and physical. The metaverse will evolve into a thriving meta-economy, providing opportunities for awe-inspiring work, play, and discovery, and synthetic media will reinvent what consumers consider real.”
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