Despite the restrictions and as the metaverse continues its global expansion, China is well aware of the Metaverse potential. The Chinaverse is part of China’s digital economy alongside VR/AR, AI, blockchain and cloud computing. Focus on this fascinating Web 3.
The future is now
In 2021, the estimated market size of the Chinaverse is $8 trillion. The same year, 93% of the 500+ registered companies were named after the metaverse, and IDC estimates that 37 million Chinese online users will have a virtual identity on metaverse platforms by 2025. Local authorities are also including the metaverse as one point of their digital strategy while some innovators market-players are embracing it already to offer new virtual experiences to consumers. The fashion sector and luxury houses like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton or Dior have taken a quick turn into the Chinaverse.
So how do brands approach the metaverse and engage consumers? Virtual idols or influencers seem to be the first step into the Chinaverse, upgrading the shopping experience for consumers and a safer option for brands considering the potential new regulations this new technology is facing. Alibaba launched his Meta-human Ayayi in September 2021, Balabala – the giant of childrenswear – has recently given birth to Gu Yu, their virtual child ambassador, elevating their e-commerce experiences. Luxury brands are also turning to NFTs metaverse strategies, creating virtual outfits, or entire art collections like Gucci and Superlastic who launched a series of 500 NFTs called the SUPERGUCCI collection. But some companies are also going further, creating complete virtual experiences, like Dior, launching on April 28, its first-ever metaverse fashion show in China, “On the Road,” with Baidu’s metaverse social app XiRang.
The fundamental difference between Web2 (the current Internet) and Web3 is the entry barriers. Web2 is open, Web3 is closed, which might make it more elitist and for brands a way more expensive access. Another challenge will be to play by the rules of the “gatekeepers” (Meta, Alibaba, …). Those giants of the technology will “own” users and brands’ customers experiencing their platform, while China will keep regulating this new economy.
Immersive digital experiences will become a must-have for brands, and the Chinaverse is not a trend but changing the game. China is clearly displaying its eagerness to deep dive into the virtual world and companies will have to consider it as part of long-term strategies to succeed !