Imagine a digital 3D world driven by AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) where you have a body (avatar) that can socialise, shop, play games and basically do all the same things you do in everyday life. “The Metaverse is still being defined and still being built but I see it as the next step in how humans will engage with technology,” says Cathy. “It’s about the internet breaking free from the rectangles in our hands, desks and walls and being all around us. The metaverse is about making our world into a combined experience of virtual and real. It’s an extension of what comes next for human creativity. It’s also about our identity and digital ownership.”
The metaverse is opening up endless possibilities for beauty brands, too. It’s the ultimate playground to get your beauty fix, whether you want to try on makeup, buy products for your avatar (or yourself in IRL), and immerse yourself in virtual stores, experiences and games.
What are the pros and cons for the beauty industry?
Historically, a key stumbling block for beauty brands has been how to represent fragrance when you can’t actually smell what’s in front of you. It’s one reason the Byredo x Rtfkt launch is so trailblazing as it’s proving the detractors, who said it could never work, wrong.
“We’re starting to see hints of how, once it matures, the metaverse will be multisensory,” says Emily Safian-Demers from trend forecasters Wunderman Thompson. “Up to this point, digital engagement has been primarily monosensory — driven heavily by visual and auditory engagement,” she adds. “But we experience the physical world with all of our senses; why shouldn’t we have this same depth and texture of experience in the digital world? You can expect to see more multisensory plays from beauty brands along the lines of Byredo’s Web3 perfume in future.”
Or, put simply, “it’s making the incredible happen by pushing us to rethink what fragrance is,” says Cathy. “It’s forcing the beauty industry to think beyond the physical and reimagine what beauty means in the virtual world.”
Creating digital beauty products for avatars is the most obvious ticket into the metaverse. But according to Emily, self-expression is the leading driver of engagement so that’s what brands should be focusing on. “Creativity is the name of the game in the metaverse, and this is already a core tenet for beauty brands in the physical world,” she explains. “According to our research, 71% of people who are familiar with the metaverse say they want their avatar to express their creativity and individuality in ways that they can’t in the physical or offline world.” In other words, it’s a safe space for you to be anything you like and look how you want.
Alex Box, an identity designer and creator of 3D meta makeup, agrees and says, “The beauty industry has been creating narrative and connection with expression, product and identity for years. The avatar is the gateway to the metaverse and identity will be core to how that connection and integration of self evolves. The metaverse and Web3 is a new creative space with limitless possibilities to open new worlds for artists and audiences to connect.” After all, where else would you find avatars with elegant couture-like glass masks or organisms sprouting on your face in a sci-fi rendition of your skin’s microbiome?