Will the Metaverse Be a Game-Changer for the Cannabis Industry?
An alternative universe with no advertising restrictions has entrepreneurs taking notice.
Everyone is excited about the Metaverse, but what is it exactly and how can it impact the cannabis industry?
Let's start with the what. The Metaverse is where the gaming world (AR, VR, AI) converges with decentralized blockchain-based platforms to create a 3D immersive experience where you can play and transact using digital currency. To engage in the Metaverse, you must create an Avatar, a digital version of yourself or who you want to be.
Kid's video games like Sim, Roblox, Fortnite, and Animal Crossing have been using virtual currency for years. The gamification of blockchain-based technologies allows for real currency transactions in a grown-up world via the Metaverse.
This is all good news for the cannabis industry because the Metaverse is decentralized, which means no one controls it, not the government, Google, or Facebook. There are no restrictions for marketing your cannabis brand.
Who visits the Metaverse?
A fairly diverse group populates the Metaverse. According to Statista, 38 percent of gamers are between 18-34 years old, 14 percent are 35-44, 12 percent are 45-54, and 9 percent are 55+. Fifty-eight percent o the visitors are men; 41 percent are women.
Facebook, Apple, Nike, Gucci, and other well-known brands are getting into the game and will change the demographics to include a broader range of consumers as the Metaverse platform matures. Many compare it to the early days of social media, when we were introduced to a new way to socialize.
Today's kids are growing up in a digital world where they buy virtual things (think NFT) and are comfortable socializing and transacting in it. When these kids become adults, they will carry this culture with them, and marketers need to understand it to reach this target audience.
Cannabis marketing opportunities in the Metaverse
Musicians like Travis Scott, John Legend, and Little Naz are early adopters of the space performing concerts in their Avatar likeness -and they are attracting huge crowds. Snoop Dog recently said that he is always looking for new ways to connect with his audience and decided to "buy land" in SandBox, a virtual world created within the Metaverse.
I won't get into the weeds with the technical stuff, but to explain it: The Metaverse is a collective of virtual worlds. If someone builds a "popular world" (Sandbox, Decentraland) in the Metaverse, they can attract buyers and sell ad space or property just like a magazine or other media would.
Here are some ways a cannabis brand can step into the Metaverse to expand its digital footprint and reach consumers in a different universe:
- Advertisements (billboards) and product placement opportunities will emerge within these various worlds.
- Virtual landholdings. Someone paid $450,000 to live next door to Snoop Dog and gain access to his audience. Smart move. Let's say they have a dispensary. Now they have access to all Snoops concert-goers as they roam the Snoopverse, and sales of their products are possible because of blockchain's smart contract technology. Talk about location, location, location.
- Pop-up events. How about a consumption lounge ala Paris Hilton? Paris threw a new years eve party and performed as an Avatar DJ. that drew crowds.
- Product demos Brands commonly host pop-ups in dispensaries to demonstrate their products, do it virtually. Educating the consumer on the medicinal benefits of cannabis is a key driver to normalize the plant and move the industry forward. Learning can come to life in the Metaverse and be a fun and immersive experience.
- Large-scale events like Comic-Con, Lollapalooza, or Coachella will offer opportunities for brands to advertise or sell merch (NFTS) as they would at a real-life event.
Brands take note: Facebook just changed its name to Meta and pledged 10 million dollars for R&D to build a virtual world in the Metaverse. Moves like this quickly change the trajectory for where technology is moving, and consumers hang out.