Can beverage brands monetize the metaverse?

Meet Florence. She is bold, resilient and hardworking. She is very determined and never afraid of challenges. Florence loves rare, handcrafted, collectible and one-of-a-kind pieces of art. She works for Kinahan’s Whiskey and says she has a “because I’ve earned it” attitude.

The problem is that Florence doesn’t exist – not in a physical sense anyway. She is a digital brand ambassador for the whiskey brand and she lives in Kinahan’s Meta World, a virtual reality experience created in the metaverse.

In Kinahan’s Meta World, whiskey fans can learn about the brand’s products in a more experiential way through Florence and other digital brand ambassador avatars the company has created, as well as purchase , win or pre-order 3D, AR and VR-enabled digital merchandise, such as NFTs.

Kinahan’s is among the beverage brands at the forefront of marketing in the metaverse. He believes that over the next decade – possibly sooner – the metaverse will play a vital role in how brands across all industries interact with consumers.

So which beverage brands have experimented with the metaverse so far, how might they use the technology in the future – and what is it actually?

Addressing the last question first, Rupantar Guha, Project Manager for Thematic Intelligence at GlobalData, explains, “The metaverse is a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time in simulated scenarios.”

He says beverage brands are entering the space to engage with existing users and attract new customers. “These brands are experimenting with gaming content, virtual concerts, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for customer engagement. Their target audience is Gen Z, a digitally savvy cohort that is typically hard to reach through advertising channels. traditional.”

Brands are testing the waters of the metaverse

Many major global beverage brands have already launched marketing initiatives in the metaverse. Last year, The Coca-Cola Co. began offering branded NFTs, and earlier this year it launched its first digital drink: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte. The beverage giant is also working with gaming company PWR to create Pixel Point, a bespoke island inside Fortnite.

In March this year, almond milk brand Almond Breeze launched a collection of 1,000 free NFTs. And, last month, PepsiCo and its Mtn Dew brand joined forces with esports brand NYXL and the Call of Duty League to host a live watch fan event party for the New York Subliners in a virtual space. branding at Decentraland – a 3D virtual global platform. PepsiCo said the event was just the first in a series of “Web3” activations of its demand accelerator and PepsiCo Labs unit, as the company “continues to explore new ways to connect with consumers”.

Alcoholic beverage brands also see the metaverse as a major opportunity. Many use the virtual space to educate users on how their drinks are produced.

“For example, Heineken launched virtual beers produced in its virtual brewery on Decentraland,” Guha explains. “Jose Cuervo is also building a Metaverse Distillery on Decentraland to showcase its production process. Similarly, Diageo is developing a virtual branding plaza that will feature virtual socializing, exclusive virtual cocktails, custom virtual wearables, and mixology kits that users can try at home.

As for the latter, over the past few months Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan of Diageo brands have hosted happy hours and virtual experiences at the world’s premier NFT conference, attended Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week — and Johnnie Walker released his first NFT collection in collaboration with artist BossLogic which sold out within ten minutes of the auction going live.

A Diageo spokesperson explains, “In addition to developing our own channels, we are working to understand where consumers will socialize, shop and interact in one, five and ten years and explore what the next generation of virtual brands will experience. may look like. We test, experiment and learn to ensure our brands stay relevant.

Another major booze experimentation in the metaverse is Pernod Ricard with its brand Maison Martell Cognac. Later this year, it intends to launch Martell World in The Sandbox – a decentralized, community-based gaming platform – which will allow visitors to “connect with the brand like never before through unique and immersive digital interactions”.

“Visitors to the world of Martell will have the opportunity to experience Maison Martell first-hand and unlock the secrets of its famous Cognacs, as well as opening the virtual doors of the exclusive Château Martell, a place that was previously closed to the public, says Richard Black, Marketing Director of Maison Martell.

“Features will include unique games and challenges, a marketplace for limited editions, and collectible NFTs. We chose to launch The Sandbox because it offers an innovative and exciting platform to deliver engaging and meaningful consumer experiences.

Is there income potential?

For now, many brands that have launched initiatives in the metaverse are using the virtual platform as a marketing tool rather than a revenue generator, but Guha thinks that might change in the future.

“With predictions suggesting the market for new NFTs will surpass $30 billion in 2022, more brands will embrace it as a gateway to the metaverse and a new source of revenue,” he says. “While there is no evidence of real-time returns for brands in the metaverse yet, they are betting on the ongoing NFT craze. These brands are driving consumers’ attention to NFTs and the metaverse and aiming to generate long-term returns.

Guha is referring to an Accenture survey conducted earlier this year of more than 11,000 consumers in 16 countries. It revealed that 64% of respondents had purchased a virtual good or participated in a virtual experience in 2021.

“The survey also revealed that 42% of respondents had visited a retailer in the virtual world for advice, to make a payment or to browse a product when purchasing a physical item, while 56% planned to do it in 2022,” says Guha.

“These statistics suggest that the metaverse will allow brands to combine their digital and physical presence and engage with customers. Consumer interest in the emerging metaverse indicates that the theme is not a fad. In fact, at As the metaverse gains users, more brands will be rushing to capitalize on it with new advertising and revenue models.

The visitors aren’t here and they won’t be here anytime soon.

Kinahan General Manager Zak Oganian

That’s what Kinahan’s chief executive Zak Oganian hopes Florence and her group of digital beverage ambassadors will help the company achieve. He sees a big opportunity to reach more consumers through the metaverse and generate revenue through the sale of digital goods like NFTs.

However, he says Kinahan’s will continue to use brand activity in the metaverse as a complement to its traditional physical marketing campaigns, such as in-store activations like masterclasses and tastings because, at this time, it doesn’t. there just isn’t enough virtual footfall in the metaverse.

“They [visitors] are not there and they certainly will not be in the immediate future,” says Oganian. “Best-case scenario it will take five years, worst-case scenario it could take 25 years, which is unlikely because technologies are changing so fast.”

Although he is convinced that the metaverse is not a passing fad that will die out once the initial fervor surrounding it has died down, he considers one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of these virtual universes is the lack of attendance.

While footfall levels remain relatively modest, Oganian doesn’t see major beverage brands investing enough money to grow their presence in the metaverse in the same way that some of the larger-fleet SMB brands like his have. do.

“It’s not a walk in the park,” says Oganian. “At this point with all these technologies, whether it’s NFTs, metaverse, virtual reality, augmented reality, it’s all about trial and error. Decisions have to be made quickly and mistakes have to be made in order to that even faster adjustments can be made.But it’s very difficult for big companies to experiment and do that because by the time the decision-making process will go through the chain of command, the whole blockchain trend, NFT and metaverse will already have changed. Change is literally happening on a monthly basis. So because of that, I think they [big drinks brands] will opt for a little more marketing positioning.

While this remains the case, there is a significant opportunity for more nimble beverage brands to deploy virtual experiences in the metaverse and establish whether or not concepts such as digital ambassadors like Florence can not only drive awareness of the brand, but also boost sales.

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