If you want to know more about what the metaverse actually is, read our blog first.
How is the metaverse relevant to food & drink brands?
In one sense, it’s simple. With the help of virtual technology, we should be able to do most things in the metaverse that we can do in the real world (apart from virtually tasting). On that basis, the opportunities for food and drink brands will largely be the same – and then some! So…
1. Think of an event held in a virtual stadium in the metaverse. Now think of all the traditional brand sponsorship opportunities (screens, signage etc.) but also the scope for non-traditional experiences.
2. Think of two friends living on opposite sides of the world meeting in a virtual restaurant in the metaverse. From the metaverse, they each order a meal from that restaurant brand to be physically delivered to them in each of their real-world locations.
3. Think of giving those who buy your real-world chocolate brand a Willy Wonka-style virtual gaming experience in the metaverse. And so the list goes on…
As Adam Harter, SVP of media, sports and entertainment at PepsiCo, told CNN:
“As people live their lives in the metaverse on a more daily basis over the next few years … it’s critical for brands like ours to make sure that we are where those consumers are living their lives.”
Are there any examples of brands who have already dabbled in the metaverse?
In April this year, US restaurant chain Chipotle created a Chipotle Burrito Builder on gaming platform Roblox. It pitched the initiative as “…a new simulation experience that will challenge players to roll burritos in the metaverse…” Players could earn Burrito Bucks which they could use to buy a burrito in the real world.
Called ‘play-to-earn’, some believe this is where the metaverse really holds value for food and drink brands. As Michelle Evans, Global Lead of Retail and Digital Consumer Insights at Euromonitor International told the BBC News World Service The Food Chain podcast:
“I think the impact of the metaverse is going to be less about digital simulations of a meal and more about the community and the connections that it could drive.”
Tempting as it is to think of the metaverse purely as a way of brands to engage with consumers, FMCG companies are also starting to explore its potential as an operational tool. Take Kraft Heinz, for example, which is working with Microsoft. In April’s news release, Microsoft said it would be using the “industrial metaverse”, amongst other technologies, to highlight supply chain efficiencies and get products into the hands of consumers faster.
So, where should you start? space
Protecting your IP in the metaverse possibly isn’t a bad place to start. For example, McDonald’s has filed trademarks for several virtual products, restaurants and experiences. But why has McDonald’s done that? Well, as trademark lawyer, Josh Gerben, Tweeted:
“You are hanging out in the metaverse and get hungry. You don’t have to put down your headset. You walk into a McDonald’s and place an order. It arrives at your door a little while later.”
But it isn’t just foodservice brands who are protecting their assets. FMCG giant, Kraft Heinz, has also reportedly filed trademark applications for several of its brands, including Lunchables and Philadelphia.
For brands who wish to enter the metaverse, there are already a number of service providers who can facilitate it. For example, Chipotle worked with gaming platform Roblox. Another company, OneRare, is tailoring its capability specifically to the food community. Calling itself the “world’s first metaverse for food”, it’s built a “foodverse” in which it’s offering food businesses the chance to create their first “metaverse location” in the form of e.g. a virtual restaurant or event experience which users can access.
Watch this (virtual) space
Big brands are now investing time, money and resources to understand and uncover the metaverse’s potential. Their successes and failures in the coming months and years will tell us more about the metaverse’s relevance and value as a brand marketing tool.