The metaverse is coming, and it's going to change everything. “The metaverse… lies at the intersection
of human physical interaction and what could be done with digital innovation,” says Paul von Autenried,
CIO at Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. in the Wall Street Journal.
But what is the metaverse really, and what does it mean for your brand?
In theory, the metaverse will be a ubiquitous digital reality that combines different digital spaces into
one, overarching space. This creates a new world where people can both interact and engage in
commerce, among myriad other activities.
As big tech companies continue to invest in the metaverse, B2C business leaders are struggling to
understand what it means for their brands. Just as the advent of the internet disrupted B2C
verticals—with clear winners and losers—some B2C companies will fare better in the metaverse than
In this article, we explore the opportunities and challenges that the metaverse presents for B2C
businesses. We also provide insights on how business leaders can strategize and prepare for these
changes. With the right strategic approach, your B2C company can start strong in this new,
unpredictable digital paradigm.
Origins of the Metaverse
The metaverse was first conceived in the early 1990s by Neal Stephenson, author of the cyberpunk
novel Snow Crash. In it, he described a virtual world that people could inhabit to escape the mundane
realities of their lives.
Fast-forward to today, and we are seeing this concept come to fruition with companies like Google,
Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple all investing in foundational patents and technologies that might
support it. Commercially, they hope to engage consumers and keep them locked into their ecosystems.
How Consumers Will Experience the Metaverse
In theory, the metaverse offers countless advantages for everyday people. For one, it provides
distractions from the real world, and new ways to connect. This could be in the form of a evolved social
media formats, where people can interact with friends and family in more dynamic, experiential ways.
Users may access the metaverse via a virtual reality platform like Oculus Rift or Vive by HTC, which allow
people to experience other worlds, gaming, and even other cultures. In time, the metaverse may
become an important part of people's everyday lives, supporting all kinds of imaginative forms of
Those include new ways for consumers to engage in commerce. This could be in the form of an online
store that allows customers to purchase products or services. Or it could be in the form of a customer
service portal where people can acquire services or get technical support for purchases.
Already, some of the world’s biggest retailers are securing digital assets for future metaverse
investments. In December 2021, Walmart filed several patents aligned with retail in a future metaverse,
“including one for a Walmart-branded cryptocurrency and others for ‘virtual merchandise’ and non-
fungible tokens (NFTs),” The Motley Fool reports. Even so, the metaverse is still in its early stages; there
are countless unknowns about how it will evolve.
Potential Business Advantages in the Metaverse
For starters, the metaverse may support opportunities for brands to create immersive experiences that
go beyond what's possible on current digital platforms. For retailers, that means “engaging with the
consumers at the right time, on the media channel they prefer, and with the right content,” The Wall
Street Journal describes, with scope and dimensions that vastly exceed what digital supports today.
Brands may also use the metaverse to create virtual stores that allow customers to purchase products
and services. This could be done several ways, including through VR or augmented reality platforms.
Brands can be more seamless in how they blend digital experiences as well. For example, they might
borrow elements from gaming platforms to enhance how they interact with consumers.
The metaverse also provides opportunities to improve their remote and digital customer service
experiences. Brands can create portals where customers can get help with their purchases or
troubleshoot problems, for example. “Five Guys could create a virtual restaurant where customers can
check out the menu, speak to a customer service avatar, and order food through DoorDash or Uber
Eats,” as Entrepreneur describes. “The possibilities are endless.”
In addition, the metaverse can be used to create social media platforms that are dedicated to specific
brands. These platforms could provide an immersive customer experience that go beyond the confines
of a third-party social media platform, enabling brands to engage with customers in deeper ways.
How the Metaverse Will Impact Consumer Industries
It’s difficult to conceive what this will look like in practice across consumer-facing industries. But here
are a few ways the metaverse could shape specific industries that service everyday people:
Clarity in Consumer Banking
Banks could create new ways for customers to interact with their finances. For example, banks could
create VR or augmented reality experiences that allow people to explore and interact with virtual
representations of their accounts, investment options, and complex financial details like those found in
loan agreements. This would give customers a more immersive experience and could provide them with
a better understanding of their financial health.
Immersive Planning in Consumer Travel
Travel companies could use the metaverse to create new ways for customers to plan and experience
their future travels. For example, they could create virtual representations of tourist destinations that
allow people to explore them in VR before they go. This would give customers a better idea of what to
expect and could help them make better decisions about where to go and how to prepare.
Consumer Engagement in Retail
Retailers could use the metaverse to create new ways for customers to interact with their products. For
example, they could create virtual stores that allow customers to “try on” clothes or shoes before they
buy them. This may help reduce the amount of returns that retailers experience.
In addition, retailers could use the metaverse to create experiences that go beyond what's possible with
current digital platforms. For example, they could create interactive product demonstrations that allow
customers to explore the features of a product. This would give customers a better understanding of
what they are buying and could lead to purchases retailers might have lost using current digital platforms.
Better Accessibility in Healthcare
Healthcare is not a B2C industry per se. But in time, the metaverse may impact even sensitive, highly
personal industries like healthcare. For example, healthcare providers could use the metaverse to create
new ways for patients to interact with their doctors. This could include virtual meetings or consultations
in which patients can see and talk to their doctor from the comfort of their home.
In addition, healthcare providers could use the metaverse to create new ways for patients to learn
about their conditions. For example, they could create virtual representations of the human body that
allow people to explore and learn about their own anatomy. This could help people make more
informed decisions about treatment.
Potential Challenges for B2C Companies
The metaverse also poses several challenges for B2C businesses. For one, the metaverse will likely
become a crowded place in terms of brands. It's difficult to stand out in a world where anyone can
create a virtual space, presumably of any “size.”
But generally, it’s difficult to predict how potential customers will approach and engage in this new
environment. There are no analytics data on how consumers will use the metaverse the way analytics
drives B2C industries today. Brands that succeed in the metaverse will need to create immersive
experiences that are novel, engaging, and rich in value for consumers to participate.
How to Prepare for Metaverse Adoption
There are ways B2C companies can prepare for the metaverse, even without a clear picture as to how
they will proceed. To start, they must begin theorizing how they can create immersive experiences that
keep customers engaged. This may require changes in marketing, product development, and even
company culture. Starting with the basics means understanding and aligning with hardware and digital
platforms for creating virtual spaces before the metaverse becomes mainstream.
In addition, brands should begin exploring tech providers’ plans and hypotheses about the metaverse
now to get a sense of what’s possible. For example, some experts believe the metaverse will be highly
decentralized, with minimal friction between ecosystems due to the inherent interoperability of
blockchain, as Forbes describes. This would allow for “the transfer of assets, including cryptocurrencies,
utility tokens, and NFTs” between commercial environments.
Where possible, B2C companies should begin building relationships with Big Tech companies. These
companies are likely to be key players in the metaverse and will have valuable insights on how to
succeed there. For example, interoperability may require that companies “release their control over
proprietary formats, or otherwise adopt wholly open-source ones,” as WIRED reports. There will be
some necessary adaptation and integration for brands to achieve this.
Digital disruption is nothing new for B2C companies. But just like the advent of internet commerce in the
1990s, the metaverse is untested. There are advantages to being either bullish or cautious about
becoming an early adopter in terms of your brand. No matter your approach, it's through partnerships,
adding value, and creating a detailed strategy with built-in flexibility that B2C brands are most likely to
Partner with Uvation for Your Future Digital Strategy
The consultants at Uvation can help you prepare your digital strategy for the metaverse as more details
and strategic options come into focus. Contact a digital strategy expert and begin your journey today.