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Only Fools Rush In
The Metaverse vs Genuine Value Proposition

By: Cenk Akerson

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As Elvis Presley once sang, this is a good reminder of the explosive efforts on Web 3.0 and AI by companies across the planet.  We are certainly in the age of bipolarism.  For decades FMCG and, most importantly, the luxury market avoided any form of digitalization. That is, until Covid hit the scene and their efforts accelerated by an unpreceded magnitude.  Recent reports show 5 years of tech adoption and execution has shrunk to 6 months. 

The old rule of thumb is: if you are rushing it, you will not have something great as a result. 

As the ecosystem is still quite new in digital services, we can reasonably say we are still in the early stages of even mastering Web 2.0. Yet we appear to be in a massive rush to Web3.0 – and this when the Web3.0 creators themselves are not even 100% clear on what and how they will achieve a positive impact. Some players in the Travel Retail ecosystem are seemingly caught up with the Web3.0 hype and rushing to invest heavily without a proper understanding of what they like to achieve in this space.

For example, let’s take a look at Shiseido’s effort in this space:  www.tokyo-beautyverse.com

No criticism on this effort – just a hype word checklist here : Avatar , Metaverse , Digital Engagement , Gamers, Gen Z …

All good, but the big question is:  what is the value proposition to end user/consumer here?  Do they really need or seek an avatar creation by Shiseido? Can’t they simply do this with an avatar-specialized digital/metaverse company or by using the games that they are so much involved in already?   What is it they get from this platform that they can’t from the physical verse? 

The question is begged: what KPIs were put in place beyond a somewhat  simplistic hype word checklist?

We can grade this attempt as a “C-” for effort. But the next chapter from the Japanese company –  where tech adoption and resources are quite rich – should be interesting as there are more relevant propositions that actually cater to a true value proposition. Simply put: what is the offer that is so compelling and cannot be found anywhere else?

The Avatar game is already very cluttered. Now Whatsapp (no wonder really as its parent company is Meta) , has the Avatar creation function added to the app.  Before this functionality was added, this app already had a massive daily user base. Just think… a retailer or a brand from fashion or beauty, like Shiseido, could have collaborated and actually made this experience far more fun, viral and fashionable, and link their connection to a unique offer such as: claim your look at the Shiseido Ginza Store?

In the industry, it seems that the rush to do new things has left the people involved out of breath and simply missing the purpose of what are we inviting people to do?

Branding is a matter of belonging to a world, a story, a personality, an inspiration to achieve something.  Successful branding campaigns in the past had one common factor: making people dream, inspire them and, most importantly, ensure that a call to action is there.  Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, Nike’s “Just Do It and L’Oréal’s “You Are Worth It” – are all great examples of this.

In the meta efforts that we see now , what exactly  is the call to action? What are these efforts inviting to achieve? 

Mark Twain famously said, “During the gold rush it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.”  

In these early days, the big tech companies like Meta seem to effectively sell the promise of dream-land , while the ecosystem itself is still trying to discover what it actually wants to achieve and, most importantly, the “VALUE PROPOSITION” to the consumer base. 

Digital transformation is surely the top priority. Digitalisation is not dissimilar to these companies’ efforts to develop products through years of studies and tests, mastering their domain. The key must remain to put the consumer first whilst mastering your digital domain –  especially on the web2.0 first.  

It’s worth noting that L’Oréal only joined Amazon recently and Printemps in Paris just launched e-commerce. Arguably  some major retailers in the Travel Retail space are still missing the basics of digital connectivity. In these spaces, the value proposition is still carouseling around price discounts, or basic offers like free consultations.  The latest big headline has been around the partnership extension between travel advice tech giant Tripadvisor and L’Oréal Travel Retail. There is no question that this is an amazing outreach partnership and it will be interesting to see what exciting value propositions develop over time. 

Going beyond hype words, it’s the value propositions to travelers, to consumers across the globe that is still  paramount – and it must goes beyond  meta and physical verse worlds.  

The popular Instagram critic site: www.instagram.com/mba_ish  made quite a striking analysis, below. We may not agree,  yet it is a valid perspective on the hype of “Next Big Thing”

Sadly in the past 2-3 months; the tech giants’ binge hiring has now led to binge lay-offs with over 100k people suddenly finding themselves without work. In the end, when the visions are not clear and execution plans are not planned well,  it is people who pay the price – employees, consumers, investors, etc.

So, here’s a suggestion. If a company wants to set in motion a strategic action plan for Web 2.0 or Web 3.0, it’s best to go beyond a hype word checklist. Instead, create a checklist that translates to something of true value: 

  1. What is my vision and value proposition to stakeholders? 
  2. What resources are truly needed 
  3. What is the risk and exit plan that does not damage the ecosystem harshly 

Should be simple, no?

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