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From Omni to Meta: Are you ready for virtual life?

By Liron Reznik and Spencer Scott

In a world where companies have finally grasped omnichannel and its importance, comes a new disruptive era driven by emergent technologies that will reshape the way that companies think about growth and cross-channel strategies. The emergence of Web3, and the metaverse is already putting pressure on companies across sectors to evolve from an omnichannel to a metachannel focus. The need for a business and brand-right meta-strategy is now a must in order to best engage and create value within this fast-growing space.

Omnichannel is commonly defined as a multichannel approach to engagement and sales that focuses on providing seamless customer experience across desktop browsers, mobile devices and brick-and-mortar stores. Focusing on omnichannel strategies has been high on the list of priorities for companies across industries since digital channels rose to prevalence in the early-2000s. Today, over 90% of retailers and brands have an omnichannel strategy or plan to invest in one soon and 87% of retailers agree omnichannel is critical or very important to their business success.

However, while omnichannel has risen to prominence, the world is now experiencing a new disruptive shift with the emergence of what we like to call ‘virtual life.’ We believe that immersive, online worlds are poised to offer equal, if not more, value than the physical world. This trend is being enabled and driven by a number of recent technology innovations:

This technology-driven trend is now reshaping relationships and interactions between not only one another, but also between brands and their customers. It will create new consumer needs, behaviors, assets, communities, products and channels. It is now incumbent on companies that want to compete for the future to figure out how to create new ways to connect, engage and sell in this environment.

While we have a ways to go until we reach full-scale metaverse adoption, and the end state remains uncertain, what is clear is that this will be a disruptive force that we must contend with. Perhaps that is why “the metaverse has become the new macro-goal for many of the world’s tech giants,” as Matthew Ball, Managing Director of EpyllioCo, describes it.

The headlines are now riddled with news of historically innovative companies jockeying to position themselves ahead of this influx of new metaverse users:

Retail: Nike

Nike was an early mover in positioning for the shift. The company has created NIKELAND on Roblox and has been testing its presence within the digital space, as well as its implementation of virtual experiences in real life — including enabling visitors to the company’s House of Innovation in New York City via Snapchat. More recently, Nike bet big and announced the acquisition of RTFKT, a company that leverages in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create unique virtual products and experiences. It’s clear that owning a piece of the sneakerverse is high on Nike’s agenda for the future.

Social: Meta

In October 2021 Facebook officially announced a rebranding to Meta and a new focus on bringing the metaverse to life and helping people connect, find communities and grow businesses. The company declared that it was moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology. In addition, Facebook announced the integration of NFTs into Instagram, furthering the connection to these new type of digital assets within existing social channels.

Technology: Microsoft

In January 2021 Microsoft announced that it was spending $69B on the acquisition of Activision blizzard in order to grow Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud — and to provide building blocks for the metaverse. Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella said, “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

So, now what?

As companies begin to develop a meta-strategy, they should consider the following principles:

  1. Create for human relevance: While the technology is revolutionary, to be successful companies must create products with customer needs or lifestyle enhancement at the core. Experimentation is good, strategic experimentation with a human-centric lens is better.
  2. Use design to drive adoption: In a crowded field of adopters, assets must pop to stand out from the crowd. Successful companies will embrace revolutionary, channel-specific visual languages, consumer interactions and culture shifting.
  3. Engineer to engender community: Web3-related technology, and the culture surrounding the technology, is community-oriented. Innovating new products and services in this space requires creating blueprints for community creation.
  4. Be on the strategic front foot: While this new space presents plenty of opportunity, spreading your attention too thin creates chaos — for employees and consumers alike. It’s important to employ Modern Strategy — creating new types of choices with the long-term in mind, and in a way that supports the overall ambitions and commercial goals of the business.
  5. Flex and learn: Design for platform-ability and flexibility to allow iteration over time, and prioritize data collection to inform ongoing decision making. The space as it exists today should be treated as a test ground rather than a rigid, permanent offering. It’s critical to learn today to be able to shape a better tomorrow.

The above principles offer a high-level guide on how to begin to make your meta moves, serving and fueling people’s virtual life. At frog, we’re busy using these principles on behalf of our clients who are already active in the space — across sectors such as fashion, technology, auto and beyond. As we do so, we abide by the same purpose-built innovation, strategy and design focus we’ve always been committed to. We bring our Money and Magic approach to our clients, balancing human-centered design with strategic and commercial validation. We’re here to help our clients make a mark on the meta-future, join us.

Liron Reznik—Executive Strategy Director, Head of Consumer Strategy & Head of Brand Strategy

Liron has focused his career on driving growth by coupling strategy and creativity to create future-forward ideas, brands and experiences. His past exploits include starting up his own Brand & Creative Innovation shop (twice), holding leadership positions (CSO/CCO) in leading creative agencies and working closely, as a trusted strategic counsel, with the board, c-suite and senior executive ranks of some of the world’s most ambitious and venerable global brands and private equity firms including Adidas, American Express, AB InBev, Bain Capital, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, IBM, LVMH, Lexus, Ralph Lauren, Microsoft, Samsung, Target, USAA and Vodafone.

Spencer Scott — Associate Strategy Director of Commercial Strategy

As Associate Strategy Director, Spencer leads teams of commercial and consumer strategists who work alongside frog designers and technologists to identify undiscovered market opportunities and launch new products, services, experiences, and businesses that capture them. Having spent his prior career in the private equity space, Spencer brings his strong strategic mindset and creative problem solving to bear in delivering new and impactful solutions for a variety of clients across industries. He has recently been crafting frog’s POV, capabilities and menu of offerings across Web3, NFTs, and the broader Metaverse space.

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