Foresight 05: Branded virtual worlds + shoppable TV

A bi-weekly newsletter diving into the concepts, people and brands who are shaping the future of fashion, beauty and retail.

Welcome back to Foresight!

I’m excited to hear consumers are warming up to the idea of creating digital identities for virtual hangouts according to the Vogue Business piece we’re discussing on brands using virtual worlds as a marketing tactic. SK-II (the P&G-owned skincare brand we talked about in the last newsletter) is at it again with an innovative approach to connecting with consumers.

The second focus is around shoppable reality TV specifically in the fashion space, however I think there’s an equally exciting opportunity for beauty and consumer products when we think about the potential of shoppable TV through streaming platforms.

Lastly, I came across this incredible Google Slides presentation on crypto and NFT fundamentals that’s the best explanation I’ve seen yet, especially when you get to how NFTs can help creators (slide 41). Sounds long, but I promise it’s short and sweet.

Questions or comments? Reply to this email—let’s chat!


Are branded virtual worlds the new marketing terrain?

As consumers warm up to the idea of creating digital identities for virtual hangouts such as Roblox and Animal Crossing, brands are looking to cease this opportunity. SK-II has dived right in with the launch of its own virtual hyper-realistic branded world “SK-II City” for consumers to spend time in. Users can visit destinations, like a movie theatre to watch films created by the brands’ entertainment studio (Foresight 04 talks about this strategy), go on a backstage tour to access behind-the-scenes footage from campaigns, and get into gaming by collecting “miracle drops” from interactions and purchases made within SK-II City. Intended for consumers seeking differentiated digital experiences, virtual branded experiences became a popular way for brands to connect with customers through the lockdowns of the past year. We saw Valentino launch a virtual 3D villa inspired by the home of creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli and Burberry launch a virtual replica of its Tokyo flagship store among many other.

Experts note several advantages to digital worlds: helping to enhance brand value, inviting direct consumer feedback, and being easily changeable so the space can be tailored to individual customer preferences. On the flip side, it’s been said that it can be difficult to get customers to buy into these experiences, as well as the steep costs that go into creating branded worlds. For brands interested in getting their feet wet, partnering with a gaming platform like Roblox is a great place to start. Roblox’s VP of brand partnerships notes that “this is the future of how people will learn, play, consume entertainment, try on and shop fashion, and interact with brands.” Although not everyone is convinced and still predict fully branded VR experiences are likely five to ten years away, futurist and chief metaverse officer Cathy Hackl at Future Metaverse Labs points out, “this launch marks one small step into the metaverse for SK-II, but a giant step for luxury brands—many which haven’t yet entered the space. A brand’s social media and website is where customers are currently meeting them, but as we move towards web 3.0, these virtual branded worlds are the calling cards of the future.”

The potential of shoppable TV.

Step & Repeat, a reality competition show by personal styling startup Glamhive, will launch on TikTok in the coming weeks integrating e-commerce by linking to Glamhive’s site in its profile where viewers can be matched with a stylist. Linktree will direct to the winner’s Glamhive page to book a styling session and video content will encourage viewers to use Glamhive’s styling services. As QVC-style shopping has attracted brands and tech platforms, others see an opportunity to create reality shows with a shopping component. We saw this last year with Amazon Prime Video’s Making the Cut fashion design competition show, where a shoppable component was added having the winning looks available for sale through an Amazon Fashion store after each episode. Most winning looks sold out in less than two days. Snapchat had also experimented with “dropping” items for sale during reality shows with the ability to purchase directly within the app and later this month, Shopflix will launch with 20 brands and 24-hour shoppable programming on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. “Tech companies and social media platforms, with built-in audiences, real-time tagging and shopping capabilities, are offering something network television can’t.”

This is a continued evolution of the shift toward social commerce and as much as I love to talk reality TV, there’s an equally important opportunity for streaming platforms here too. Given Amazon Prime Video’s integrated shopping features, it’s not far off to think that with the click of button, consumer products including clothing, decor, food and drink, and so much more could easily be featured in a sidebar giving viewers a direct path to purchase through an Amazon Prime account. This could go as far as beauty products used on the cast and really any relevant brand willing to pay for the advertising space. CEO of NTWRK, a video shopping platform, says that “we're not far off from being able to buy right off your Apple TV or the Roku and have your credit card connected and the same type of one-two click purchase experience while you're watching. When those things happen, the big unlock’s going to happen for the big screen again.” Tech companies are best positioned to offer more than a TV series as creating a show with the ability to instantly shop is complicated and even tech giants like Amazon spend months integrating these systems. It’s clear that shoppable content is the way we’re going. It’s in our nature to want to be a part of something and this 360-relationship allows the viewer to buy into the content they’ve already emotionally invested in.


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