Are Virtual Branded Experiences Here to Stay?
There’s been a dramatic shift in the way consumers shop and interact with brands online recently. Browsing malls and shops in person or clicking “add to cart” impulsively on Amazon isn’t quite a thing of the past yet but huge shifts in technology have led to a number of notable brands making an entrance in the virtual world with digital storefronts that offer consumers an entirely different shopping experience.
What is a Virtual Branded Experience
A virtual branded experience is something like an online store that’s 100x more interactive and immersive than a typical e-commerce website. Virtual brand experiences typically incorporate comprehensive virtual displays that enable consumers to interact with the brand in ways typical stores and websites don’t allow. That might include 360-degree shopping, virtual try-ons for clothing, in-app or virtual voice chat to interact with brand reps, social gaming, and guided tours to help you find what you’re looking for.
Bringing Bricks-and-Mortar Shops Into the Virtual World
With virtual branded experiences, companies can move their best in-person shopping experiences online, either creating a virtual, 360-degree version of their flagship stores, or by building newer, better experiences that enable their customers to immerse themselves in the brand from the comfort of their homes.
Virtual Brand Experiences From Some of the World’s Top Companies
When the Metaverse started working its way into the mainstream, Gucci was quick to hop on board, opening its own virtual experience in The Sandbox, a digital metaverse. Users will go on a journey through the fashion brand’s history through games and NFTs. According to Morgan Stanley, Metaverse is a $50 bln revenue opportunity for luxury brands.
Moschino is another great example of a virtual brand experience. In 2022, it launched Moschino x The Sims, a line of clothing inspired by virtual designs exclusive to The Sims’ world.
Vans, one of the most well-known skate apparel brands in North America, has entered a joint venture with Roblox, creating a virtual skate park where players customize their own Vans-branded clothing, shoes and skateboards while practicing skate tricks and competing in the Roblox virtual world.
The Future of Virtual Brand Experiences
Technology is only growing and as such, it can be expected that brands will be vying to keep up. That means the virtual brand experience isn’t likely going anywhere anytime soon. In the future, expect to see more brands raise sales and customer engagement online with a variety of experiences such as:
- Virtual try-on tools using digital overlay applications.
- Virtual shopping and experiences and tours that enable people to visit landmarks and popular spots from the comfort of their own homes.
- Gamification experiences, such as rewards for putting together outfits that garner the most customer votes. This experience can already be seen in some online stores, including Shein, the popular Chinese fashion retailer.
- Virtual gatherings for customers and employees, including fashion shows, makeover events, and demonstrations.
- Social gaming where brands embed their products in online games or launch avatar clothing and build immersive experiences such as concerts attended by people’s avatars. Lil Nas X performed to an audience of millions across two days and four shows; the shows gathered 33 million views in total across the performances.
Steps to Take to Bring Your Business Into the Virtual World
If you’re considering virtual brand experiences for your own company, it’s important to remember a few things before you get started.
1. Ensure that your virtual experiences align with your overall brand strategy. You want your company to provide an alternative to shopping in-store, not a completely different experience.
2. Utilize online advertising to draw customers in—those who are already online are more likely to engage with your brand than those you advertise to in person.
3. Interactive content is the most likely experience to keep customers engaged with your brand.
Overall, virtual branded experiences are the way of the future so if it’s feasible for you, the time to dive in is now.