I read Gucci’s announcement it has bought virtual land on blockchain game The Sandbox with slight dread due to one thing: it’s being billed as a move to engage Gen Z. The problem is this demographic won’t adopt a more integrated digital existence via brands, they’ll do it via creator innovation.
This goes for any brand building metaverse propositions with their business as the headline act – if we’ve learned anything from Web2, it’s that creators hold the cards. Their communities will follow them across platforms and into IRL with cult-like devotion because they long to be be part of the influencer’s movement. Can we say the same for brands? Not always and not consistently.
This is because creator content is so close to the culture, so informed by their audience. They are able to produce entertainment and projects which react to the micro conversations and data they see every time they hit publish. Brands react to larger macro trends about where we believe things are inevitably going and interpret these in a way that works for them. Creators are audience-first – whatever they do in the metaverse is destined to hit a more catchy chord.
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My hat’s off to Gucci, but its latest metaverse foray seems much more suitable for the millennial audience that fell in love with Alessandro Michele’s Instagram-led revamp and vision. And all the crypto bros commenting about NFTs under its Twitter announcement.
A brand buying digital real estate should have creators front and centre of their strategy. Trusted influencers will persuade their audiences to follow them into metaverse spaces and then make it relevant to them once they get there. Take Niko Omilana – his audience identifies collectively as the NDL. They show up to engage with his content. They turned out to vote for him in London’s 2021 Mayoral elections. Will they follow him into the metaverse to interact with him there and form a deeper connection? Yes, 100%. If Gen Z-focused brands aren’t currently thinking in this way, now is a good time to start.
Realistically, the UK creators most likely to produce something metaversy and meaningful in the near future are Sidemen. They’ve got the audience, the creativity, the insight and the engagement. Why would KSI continue to perform in spaces like Roblox when he could build something innovative that works for his entire portfolio of projects and probably results in a pile of crypto? Brands need to enter this new digital age with creator collaboration at the forefront. Then Gen Z will follow.
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ. Picture credit: Superplastic.