After a series of successful virtual events on the themes of the future of retail, digital fashion, hyper-personalisation, social commerce, the internet of senses, and many others, the CEO Series adds a new dimension to the Holition Talks events series by featuring the industry’s thought leaders, movers, shakers, and top C-suite executives, for an in-depth conversation with Holition’s Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Chippindale.
This year’s first Holition Talks: CEO Series kicked off with Charles Hambro, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of GEEIQ, - a revolutionary 'Software-as-a-Service' analytics platform and industry-defining consultancy all-in-one.
Based out of Mayfair, London, Charles and his team of experts are responsible for overseeing the metaverse strategy of some of the world's leading brands such as Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and L'Oreal, just to name a few.
In this article, we’re summarising some of the key takeaways from last Tuesday’s sold-out Holition Talks: CEO Series.
From Mark Zuckerburg renaming its parent company to Meta, to renowned luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana’s record-breaking $6M sold-out virtual fashion collection, and Gucci’s virtual two-week art installation inside the virtual gaming platform, Roblox, the Metaverse is rapidly gaining recognition as the next iteration of the mobile and internet age.
As the ubiquitous Metaverse continues to blur the boundaries between both the physical and virtual realms, we find ourselves on the brink of a transitional shift. While some luxury fashion brands remain reticent about these cultural and technological changes, we are also witnessing other brands that are well ahead of the curve when it comes to this kind of innovation.
Jonathan: “One of the interesting things about Holition’s experience - we were there during the pre-digital haze where there was so much uncertainty around social media because luxury brands were apprehensive about democratisation and being too accessible.
Luxury brands have always been accustomed to having full control of their messaging, environment, and audience, and social media has been one of the industry’s most significant disruptors full stop, because it’s a space that they simply can’t control. Consumers have spent increasingly longer periods of time on social media and that gravitational pull has drawn into it all sorts of other areas of social media companies recognising that they now had consumers’ attention and that opened up more potential for commercialisation.”
So then when we come to virtual environments and the Metaverse, it seems to be all about handing control over to the users too, where they decide how they wish to shape their experience.
Gaming and virtual environments are now becoming a place to rediscover different sides of a brand’s personality. As the Metaverse opens up a window of opportunities for multi-sensory digital experiences, creating these virtual environments offers brands the added value of engaging audiences three-dimensionally in a hyper-personalised and experiential way.
Charles: “When I was growing up playing games, the only kind of social experience was I was playing Mario Kart and some of my friends would come to my house and sit next to me and we would play together. As more games began to go online, we saw an even stronger increase in mass adoption - primarily because the online world enabled players to connect with one another in the comfort of their own homes. There was also a sense of nostalgia where gamers played games that enabled them to connect to past experiences and rediscover games that they enjoyed in the past.
So why should brands capitalise on this space? It's so that they can become native by 2025. The Metaverse is super immersive, and it's the new internet so to speak."
While the Metaverse certainly won’t replace real life, what this also means is because the experiences more enriched, there is a bigger opportunity for brands to immerse consumers inside their brand universe.
Jonathan: “The Metaverse is a place where brands can take risks by expressing values that couldn't be communicated using traditional social media platforms or in print. Bringing together a whole slew of digital trends from virtual fashion, content creation, NFTs, Web 3, and blockchain, the Metaverse now presents an entirely new revenue stream, which never existed in any other social media or online platform before.”
Charles: “What's also important for brands to understand as these new virtual environments are built every single day, the Metaverse will make it easy enough for consumers to jump from one virtual world to the next.”
Jonathan: “Another point that fascinates me about the Metaverse is how its been a catalyst for exploration. The Metaverse has been accepted and explored in radically different ways across different segments, demographics and needs, whilst coexisting under the same “meta-roof”.
Some see the Metaverse as an infinite globally connected gaming paradise, others as a hyper-realistic reimagination of social media. I see it as a world of exploration and discovery of virtual fashion, of personality, gender, and culture.”
Charles: “For brands, being part of the Metaverse means having to stay relevant and playing by the rules of consumers whilst still staying true to their values. There's going to be an element of co-creation, and brands need to start getting accustomed to that.
If we look at an actual media platform like Discord now, it’s clear that the conversation itself that's being led by the community. And I think that word community there is, is really important. We’re witnessing that shift in brands’ mindsets where it’s not just about acquiring consumers anymore, rather how we can invite them to be members of your brand’s community.
Brands will need to realise that they’re entering into a new kind of world where users are incredibly invested because they are just as (if not more important) than the brands that are creating or funding these virtual worlds. There really isn’t any other way around it. Perhaps, the better question that brands need to ask themselves is with 250 million people entering Roblox every month, do you want to be a part of that or not?
If you want to be a part of that change, then it’s important to accept that there's going to be an element of cooperation and that there's going to be an element of democratisation - in the same way that brands needed to embrace social media a decade ago.”
Jonathan: “One of the most common hesitations that fashion and luxury brands experience is assessing whether digital innovations, virtual environments, and the Metaverse can be applicable or relevant for traditional luxury brands. What are your thoughts on the relevance of the Metaverse and how can brands capitalise on its opportunities?”
Charles: “If any brand is getting involved inside the Metaverse, it's really, really important to consider the community of these environments, because it can be quite scary for players to suddenly see a fashion brand come in, or a brand comes in that isn't typically involved or connected with that game. And one of the strong ways of doing that is working with the community to do that...
We did that with with Gucci, when we were first starting to put them into two virtual environments, we really partnered with content creators from the community to build those environments, partly because they're very good at it.
And they know how to build these things incredibly well. But also, you're entering from a place of empowering and supporting creators, which is a really great brand message for brands to pursue."
Charles: “There's no reason why brands - big or small - shouldn't be looking at virtual environments. My top tip would be to do as much research as possible before you get involved [in the Metaverse]. It's so important to understand your goals and what you want to accomplish. Do some research to get a better grasp of what the experience is like for communities and which virtual environments people are on.”
Holition would like to thank Charles Hambro, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of GEEIQ, our colleagues, friends, and partners that joined us for the event.
To watch the full Holition Talks: CEO Series, click here to gain exclusive access.
The Holition Talks Virtual Panel series returns on April 26, 2022, with an exclusive webinar on how immersive technologies are changing the importance of the art gallery.
Joining Jonathan will be friends and partners from the Art Industry - Hillary Knight Director for Digital from the Tate and Jennifer Crook, Director at Dreamachine, a powerful new kind of collective experience inviting you to explore the fascinating potential of your mind. Created in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble, Grammy-nominated musician Jon Hopkins and a team of pioneering scientists and technologists, including Holition, Dreamachine is part of UNBOXED, Creativity in the UK.