Like Tiger King during the initial months of the pandemic, everyone is talking about the metaverse.
Maybe you’ve seen an article pop into your inbox about CVS filing a patent to develop metaverse-based stores or Nike launching an exclusive sneaker for digital twins. You’ve wondered, “if these large brands are in the metaverse, should I be considering it too?” Maybe your leadership is looking to you for marketing expertise to form a POV on what the metaverse means for your brand. Or maybe, you’re a bit confused, unsure of where to start, and haven’t quite figured out what the metaverse is.
You’re not alone.
Spoiler alert: consumers also have mixed feelings.
60% of US adults either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “I don’t understand the purpose of the metaverse,” according to a January 2022 survey from Protocol and The Harris Poll.
At the same time, almost as many (57%) feel that the metaverse will soon become as popular as traditional social media platforms, and Goldman Sachs forecasts that 25% of people will spend an hour a day in the metaverse by 2026.
So, it’s arrived and growing fast but many consumers still don’t quite understand what it is.
It’s no secret that healthcare is its own animal, riddled with nuances.
And being an early adopter could land brands anywhere along a spectrum - from severe fallout to the front of the pack for innovation. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of basic questions to assess the metaverse’s value.
1. Does entering the metaverse make sense for your brand?
Today, the metaverse is filled with brands experimenting (or going on safari, as we’ve done for a few of our clients). They invest in the metaverse, activate, and see what happens – which can mean some trial and error. For healthcare brands, most of which are cautious and risk-averse, experimenting with the unknown (unless on a compound to treat a disease) is generally off the table.
The appetite for risk and experimentation with a new platform likely has much to do with what type of healthcare brand you are.
If you’re a consumer health brand, the metaverse may be a great way to reach customers who were otherwise unreachable in a retail setting.
If you’re a medical device brand, you could leverage the metaverse to train HCPs on your newest product or simulate surgeries to teach medical students.
If you’re a pharmaceutical or biotech brand, you could engage with your employees in the metaverse to foster innovation, run a town hall or immerse your audience in a world based on your product’s MOA.
The truth is that the metaverse will continue to change and evolve
(which is why many of these questions are hard to answer).
Currently, a lot of metaverse content is gaming related.
Past branding and marketing opportunities in gaming often come from paid product placement. When surveyed, 42% of gamers said they expect product placement to be relevant to the game. Could a healthcare brand partner with a game in the metaverse to promote their product or brand in a relevant way? Absolutely. Would the right audience show up, and would it influence their opinion of the brand or product? That’s still unclear.
2. Is your target audience in the metaverse already?
A recent survey, assessed metaverse interest based on demographics.
According to the study:
- Men are almost twice as likely to express interest in the metaverse than women.
- Over half of millennials and Gen Z said they are interested in the metaverse.
- There is greater interest among black and Hispanic adults than among white adults.
- Almost 40% of adults have still never heard of the metaverse.
Digging into demographic data like this is crucial to evaluating the benefits of the metaverse. If you’re a healthcare brand with a treatment for a disease that disproportionally effects young, black men, the metaverse may be a more valuable than if you are a medical device company selling hip replacements.
Pro tip: check for new data often because it is constantly changing!
3. Can you measure ROI in the metaverse?
Much like the early pandemic with virtual experiences, the digital nature of experiences in the metaverse means they can be measured – to a certain degree. Platforms can capture landing page visits over time, average time spent on a page, most popular visit times, and more. Gathering deeper metrics like changes in brand impression after engaging with a brand in the metaverse could be captured via surveys or targeted questionnaires (not unlike in the world of reality).
On the flip slide, the age-old healthcare ROI questions persist in the metaverse. Can you measure the change in the likelihood of an HCP prescribing a drug after engaging in the metaverse?
4. Who from your organization should drive metaverse activations?
Similar to the emergence of branded entertainment years ago, ownership and decision-making for the metaverse may not be apparent within your organization. A successful metaverse team might include a blend of members from marketing, comms, PR, IT, you’re exploring.
Then – most importantly – you have to find the budget to support it. Many brands are still right-sizing their marketing budgets on the heels of the pandemic, which could make this the ideal time to request an allocation for the metaverse. It’s important to note, that the metaverse is still too new to have accurate averages around brand investments to reference.
5. Is it too early to join the metaverse
Once you’ve assessed the above questions and answered them as they relate to your brand specifically, it’s essential to address timing. Is now the right moment for your brand to show up in the metaverse? Will another year or two of growth, development, and accessibility to technology shape the metaverse into a better opportunity for your brand? Either way, experimentation is often the first step, and it’s ok to test out the metaverse, see what works and what doesn’t, and then reset and revisit.
It’s true: the metaverse will become more exciting as more brands interact with it. But by our count, the metaverse has only been discussed mainstream for 180 days. We quarantined longer than that.