Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and others… since the beginning of 2022, luxury brands have communicated at all costs about their penetration into the world of the metaverse, in this parallel virtual space with the potential of great, creative. And so they set their sights on these complex universes to understand that are block chain, NFT (secure digital property certificates), cryptocurrencies and other virtual products.
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And for good reason. According to a study by the Morgan Stanley bank, metaverse could represent 10% of the luxury market in 2030, or $50 billion. Schematically, for a luxury brand, the investment in Web3 could consist of creating clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry and even champagne bottles (such as the Dom Pérignon brand) from already existing products. But also to launch NFTs, for example, related to works of art.
“It is not a question of replacing reality, but of offering a virtual version of an object, unique and specific, through social networks and online games to connect with a new generation of consumers eager for differentiation.”, deciphers Côme. Prost-Boucle, founder of the NFT Paris event, whose next edition will be held in March 2023. Examples? In September 2021, Dolce & Gabbana presented the Collezione Genesi, a series of nine pieces of NFT haute couture (three jackets and a men’s suit, two dresses, two crowns and a tiara) for 1,885,719 ether (a cryptocurrency), more than 6 million krena. euros.
In the process, Gucci launched SuperGucci, a collection of 250 NFTs traded in three phases. At the end of 2021, the American sportswear giant Ralph Lauren for its part imagined a digital collection of clothing dedicated to winter sports, inspired by its legendary Polo Sport line from the 1990s. The collection could be tried on by user avatars and purchased at brand stores installed on the Roblox video game platform. This original operation was accompanied by a digital experience, The Ralph Lauren Winter Escape, allowing brand fans to step into Ralph Lauren’s creations in the metaverse.
Are metaverses of interest to the general public?
At the same time, the Louis Vuitton brand was designing a virtual game to celebrate the bicentenary of its founder’s birth. Titled “Louis: The Game,” the experience featured a heroine who ventured into the metaverse in search of 200 birthday candles against the backdrop of a story telling the history of the house. Thirty NFTs, ownership documents for unique virtual objects, were otherwise hidden in this parallel universe.
Why did these luxury brands, which were said to be wary of the digital experience, jump into Web3 with such fervor? “This is a paradoxical move, because basically luxury and digital are diametrically opposed. Luxury is confidential, aimed at an elite clientele and based on key notions such as rarity, uniqueness and exclusivity. Conversely, the Web is democratic and is for everyone,” explains Stéphane Galienni, co-founder and associate director of the BLSTK agency, which has supported many luxury houses for more than fifteen years. With Web3, it’s something else again.
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“The technologies offered by this new decentralized Web seem to be perfectly in line with the values of luxury. In particular with blockchain which makes it possible to prove the origin of a raw material and certify the process of “production” of a luxury good. This represents a radical tool to combat counterfeiting, notes Stéphane Galienni. In addition, NFTs, secured by blockchain, offer brands the possibility of creating “digital twins” of their products for the metaverse.
As a result of this enthusiasm of luxury houses for Web3, in the top 10 brands that have generated the most profit from NFT sales (Dune report, August 2022), we find Dolce & Gabbana ($25.6 million) in second place after Nike ( $185.3 million), then Tiffany & Co ($12.6 million) and Gucci ($11.6 million) in third and fourth place, finally the French brand Lacoste closes the picture ($1.1 million).
“For these houses, this new place to express their brand identity allows them to explore their creativity in depth, using visual and creative experiences that would not be physically possible. They are investing in new media, types of products as well as new targets, new and already captive of these ecosystems,” explains Raphaël Assouline, co-founder of the French start-up RLTY, which is developing a solution for the design of virtual events in. the metaverse.
According to Kathy O’Meny, digital expert, teacher at Sup de Luxe (Supreme Institute of Luxury Marketing), the pandemic has also increased the interest of luxury brands in the digital field: setting up virtual platforms, creating fashion weeks and collections accessible on internet, development. of innovative digital practices and experiences.
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“Metaverse came at a time when the digital world was just gaining real legitimacy in the face of this Covid crisis. Consumption patterns have accelerated their transformation and there will be no turning back. Luxury homes cannot afford to miss out on the countless opportunities offered by Web3″, she analysed. “From the end of the classroom to the beginning of the Internet, they have become the best students entering the world of NFTs and metaverses in full force,” summarizes Sabine Temin, founder of Luxurytail and Luxurytail Academy, an online training site above the world of luxury.
According to experts, due to the industry’s ability to be both virtual and physical, it is logically at the forefront of the evolution of this universe. “According to our latest research, approximately 70% of US consumers now say that their digital identity is as important as their physical identity. This is why fashion is one of the sectors most poised to shape the metaverse,” points out Cyrielle Villepelet, associate director at McKinsey.
To succeed in their foray into Web3, luxury brands will however need to better understand the workings of the gamer and geek universe and reinvent “retail” experiences. And not just by reproducing previous modes of operation. “They will have to think about partnerships and not sales. That is, to be part of a logic of co-creation with the new generations rather than selling a product according to traditional customs. Brands will need to ask and involve employees. In short, to make them true ambassadors…” warns Kathy O’Meny.
If their future in the metaverse looks promising, brands should be wary of certain technological and operational developments. Among the hundreds of virtual worlds that exist today, most of which are focused on gaming and social experiences, there are strong differences in terms of graphics and immersion, in particular. “The emergence of distinct platforms in the metaverse will pose the problem of relationships between luxury brands, of information exchange between them. This can reduce the expected performance of the metaverse in question,” says Cyrielle Villepelet.
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In addition, they will need to rethink their organizational structures and their existing skills while updating their recruitment strategies. “Even if the future is never written, luxury companies have just proven, by investing in the video game and technology industry, that they always manage to reinvent themselves thanks to the diversification of their activities and the expansion of their territories of conquest”, analysis. , in conclusion, Stéphane Galienni.
“Our virtual store attracts customers who don’t shop online”
Printemps is one of France’s leading retailers in the fashion, luxury, beauty and lifestyle sectors. It brings together 3000 employees, has 20 stores in France (including 4 subsidiaries) and the site Printemps.com. Morgane Lopes, director of digital marketing at Printemps, answers Capital.
Why this first store in the metaverse?
Morgan Lopez: We want our customers to have innovative and memorable experiences. We are the first “retailer” to invest in Web3 launching a unique experience combining one-stop shopping, NFT and virtual store. We ran a raffle among our customers: 30 NFTs containing an exclusive digital artwork as well as an original “physical” work by artist Romain Froquet were won.
How did you get on?
Morgan Lopez: Opened on March 20, 2022, our virtual store offers a didactic, educational and fun approach to Web3. Our challenge was to desacralize and unravel the myths surrounding this universe. This is why we imagined a virtual experience integrated into our digital ecosystem at Printemps.com, namely a 3D store, accessible on computer and smartphone. This is not digital mode. We offer physical products to buy and wear in real life. These are not cryptocurrencies either, but real currencies (euro or pound), to make the operation tangible.
What is the result of this experiment?
Morgan Lopez: Very positive, because we have fulfilled our two main objectives: “omnichannel” and innovation. 80% of customers who shopped in our virtual store were people who preferred physical stores and had never shopped on our shopping site. The average basket was similar to that of a conventional store. Profile of our buyers? From 25 to 45 years old, a younger clientele than in the “hard” store. Buyers, especially the French and the British – because the campaign targeted these two countries – are interested in new technologies and especially in Web3. Our operation also increased traffic to our e-commerce site, with a 20% increase in traffic.