Augmented Reality

CPG and the Metaverse: New Opportunities for Brands

The metaverse

The metaverse may still be in the very early stages of development, but consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail brands are already providing a masterclass on how to leverage virtual spaces to reimagine customer engagement.

Gucci created a limited run of its Dionysus bag for Roblox, which generated enough hype that one user bought one for over $4,000, more than $1,000 above the retail price of a physical bag. Wendy’s went viral and gained a ton of attention from gamers when it started smashing the freezers of a virtual burger joint in Fortnite as a play on its brand promise of never freezing its beef.

These are delightfully successful marketing examples of what companies can do with the metaverse, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. There is still far more untapped potential for the metaverse to transform industries for the better. Consider the possibilities:

  • Customer experience and e-commerce — More realistic, immersive e-commerce experiences that allow customers to interact with products before they buy, reimagining the shopping experience and creating new opportunities for retailers.
  • Employee onboarding and training — Immersive remote learning and training programs made more engaging through gamification, and more inclusive through digital accessibility tools such as translation services, display, and sound adjustments.
  • Digital twins — The ability to create a digital twin on the metaverse for any process (manufacturing, delivery, distribution, etc.) and perform simulations that would be difficult in the real world.
  • Collaboration — Employees, clients, and partners coming together in a 3D metaverse setting to connect, collaborate, and co-create.
  • Sustainability — Digital planning and engineering to allow designers and engineers to explore new opportunities for sustainable design for everything from clothing to cars to cities.

So far, brands have succeeded in being creative in the metaverse, and they might benefit even more from exploring some of the opportunities described above. By leveraging technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), digital twins, artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics, CPG companies can digitalize operations in the metaverse and unlock new opportunities for growth.

Advances in Product Development

Product development is a critical process for CPG companies. It can also be extremely costly in terms of time, resources, and money. Formulas and packages need to be tested for safety, shelf stability, consumer preference, and refined as needed.

Digitalizing these tests could reduce the waste produced through the typical comp process. Teams can create digital twins of products and processes, and use data to replicate real-world scenarios. This allows them to simulate future challenges and potential solutions before they commit to making a physical prototype.

The metaverse could also enhance employee collaboration and innovation. Teams from different geographies can work together in the same virtual room. This could streamline product development while also enriching it by allowing people with different skills and backgrounds to work together, regardless of geography.

Improvements in Supply Chains and Sourcing

Supply chains are the lifeblood of CPG companies. From sourcing material to manufacturing to distribution, there are plenty of opportunities for disruption that could negatively impact operations throughout.

What began as a supply chain crisis due to COVID-19 lockdowns has persisted in some form due to geopolitical conflicts, the war in Ukraine, and recessions in the U.S. and the UK. Products that were ordered in advance during the pandemic arrived at ports but couldn't be delivered to some retail outlets, either because those outlets had shut down during the pandemic or there were not enough trucks available to deliver them, leading to an abundance of product in circulation that no one is buying.

The metaverse can help resolve issues like these by strengthening forecasting and modeling with AI, machine learning, and digital twin technology. Companies can build digital twins of their supply chains and model potential scenarios using real-world data so they’re better equipped to handle challenges when they arise. With greater visibility throughout the supply chain, companies can map alternate routes for distribution to bypass shutdowns or bottlenecks, visualize inventory and demand across geographies, and redistribute resources as needed.

Better Employee and Customer Experiences

Brands already use simulated retail environments to test consumer products among competitors on the shelf. With the metaverse, brands might be able to conduct similar tests virtually, requiring less time and money because the tests could be conducted from anywhere in the world, at any time. In fact, the immersive environments of the metaverse might reduce the need for traditional consumer testing. Brands could test-launch products in the virtual space and create physical versions based on demand.

This blending of virtual and physical worlds reveals new opportunities for customer engagement and revenue streams. Brands can create digital products for sale and use on virtual platforms. They can also allow individuals to shop for real-world products on virtual platforms, arranging for delivery to a physical store or their home.

On the employee side, the metaverse can enhance collaboration by providing shared virtual spaces for employees to brainstorm and test ideas. Teams can work together on things like product development, marketing strategy, and customer engagement before using linked data and technologies to run test scenarios for these ideas in real time.

The metaverse can also improve employee training and onboarding. Companies can standardize training information to be sure all employees are upholding brand values. This can be especially useful in retail, where turnover is high and seasonal, and products can change frequently. AR and VR can make training more engaging so employees are more likely to retain information. It can also supplement employees on the floor, ensuring they have access to all necessary information about the brand's products.

Customers today expect a lot, and brands have been quick to explore new technologies as a way to keep up. The metaverse can help brands get more from these technologies by providing an environment where they can all work together, amplifying their impact and unlocking new opportunities for growth and optimization.

Srini Rajamani, SVP and Sector Head of Consumer and Life Sciences, Wipro Limited.

About the Author

Srini Rajamani

Rajamani serves as SVP and sector head of consumer and life sciences at Wipro Limited. In this role, he holds end-to-end P&L responsibility, including delivery, sales, solutions, and new markets for consumer and life sciences industries at Wipro.

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