A key moment for Metabrands?
A key moment for Metabrands?: Products created purely for virtual world consumption, Metabrands, are a key growth area in Second Life.
This is driven by a soon to emerge trend by real world brands to realise that virtual world revenues will not be created by simply re-creating real world products. Instead, virtual world brand values (and subsequently real world) will be enhanced by creating products specifically designed for metaverse usage.
Media attention and other coverage is currently being directed at Elexor Matador Jewelry, an in-world creator and store owner (here’s the Slurl). She is selling ten limited edition unofficial Cartier Himalia jewelry sets at L$10,000 each (?Ç¬£20 / $38) – signicantly higher than normal pricing levels in Second Life. Similiar products in the store retail at the L$250.
This raises two very important points related to the development of Metabrands.
Firstly, the product name Himalia is a registered trademark of Cartier so this is a clearly a move to make profit. This raises issues explained expertly by Benjamin Duranske in this post on the Virtually Blind blog. Ben is a leading authority on the legal implications of virtual worlds.
Secondly, prices in general inside Second Life do appear at first glance to be extremely cheap, even though they have no real-world value. The sales promotion, inverting the normal pricing movement and actually increasing the selling price massively could have crucial implications on the potential revenue streams opening up in SL, specifically for providing initial insight for real-world brands to realise the brand equity to gain and the new income opportunities from Metabrands.
This opportunity is clearly of primary benefit to luxury brand owners. These companies exist in categories heavily driven by maintaining high prices via intense management of their brand. This implied value and sense of belonging, associated with luxury brands gives them the edge in terms of making their brand in-world and creating products specifically for these worlds. The current low pricing structure across all products in SL will naturally increase via increased resident numbers, virtual word of mouth and improvements in the intelligence of metaverse marketing.
This example however, will likely cause many real-world brand owners to look at how their products are being copied and unoffically sold and from here deploy appropriate strategies.
The most obvious option is for these companies to take legal action again in-world creators for trademark infringement.
Potentially the more interesting option is considering what pro-active action can be taken to position their brands correctly inside Second Life. These options are explained in more detail in the K Zero case study on Luxury Brands and relate to either realising they have to create an offical SL presence for their brands or alternatively collaborate with the virtual creators and retailers.
The effect of editorial coverage from virtual world media outlets will also be of interest to marketers. This Second Life Herald story goes into a lot of detail about several other Metabrands treading a fine line between trademark infringement and brand admiration.
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