What do pixels taste like?

You’ve likely seen many articles touting the uncapped potential for brands in the metaverse. A visually and audibly rich interconnected 3D space with unlimited creativity is an obvious playground for marketers. Entry points are clearer for brands reliant on easily digitised senses like sight and sound, but you can’t eat pixels so what can the metaverse do for F&B brands reliant on taste?

The Pepsi Challenge of 1975 proved people prefer the taste of Pepsi, yet people continue to buy more Coke. The campaign failed through its sole focus on taste when we don’t just shop by flavour. Coke won out by marketing brand, not product. When we think of Coke we think of happiness and friendship. This 25-year focus on building brand associations has worked, Coke and Diet Coke command 25% of the US soda market. F&B brands’ most valuable asset has long moved past taste.

F&B marketers can use the metaverse to build out a strong value proposition beyond taste. Not everyone that drinks Red Bull is going to be jumping from space and not every luxury whisky connoisseur gets to attend snazzy PR events. The open, accessible, and creative nature of the metaverse gives F&B brands the opportunity to build brand value in new ways; digital first, immersive, believable, but most importantly accessible to so many more people than anything possible in real life.

With the pandemic pushing shopping behaviour online, F&B brands are already navigating an all-digital customer journey. Building and engaging with your community is key to success in a digital world. Brands have traditionally relied on social to drive engagement and interact with consumers. Nando’s fully understands their community, seamlessly incorporating the ‘cheeky Nando’s’ mindset into their socials. A focus on community building works, Nando’s consistently tops social rankings for UK F&B brands with 4.6M Facebook followers and 1.2M Twitter.

The metaverse is intrinsically social which opens opportunities to take community engagement further. Although at its heart the interaction will ultimately remain a two-way conversation between brand and consumer, the metaverse allows for this conversation to take place in new, deeper, and more engaging ways. When Wendy’s needed to push their never frozen message, they streamed their player on Fortnite destroying all the freezers in the game. They started a conversation in a more natural and authentic way than possible with social. It made sense to the community and earned Wendy’s a 119% increase in social interactions.

Stand out is challenging for all brands. We’re presented with a near infinite choice on shelf, combined with information overload and our shrinking attention spans, F&B marketers in particular are fighting an uphill battle. In the future F&B brands are going to need to move beyond a redesigned pack or punchy campaign to get noticed and drive sales within a saturated market.

The metaverse offers unconstrained creativity to marketers looking to expand beyond traditional channels. F&B brands have recently entered the metaverse whilst attempting to replicate real world experiences. Miller Lite created the first metaverse bar and Heineken the first metaverse brewery. Whilst the Meta Lite bar averaged an impressive 20-minute dwell time it was a short term PR stunt bringing little value to the brand beyond hype. F&B brands that are willing to take a braver approach in the metaverse with unlocked creativity are positioned to benefit the most with increased campaign longevity and engagement.

With the next 10 years of technological innovation set to match the last 100, perhaps we will all be meeting up in the metaverse for a pixel pint and a 3D printed pack of crisps. Whilst we’re waiting though, F&B brands that focus on creative, community led experiences that build brand as opposed to product are set to reap the rewards of the next digital era.

Welcome to the Meta Lite Bar, the first-ever brand hosted bar in the metaverse and the only place you’ll catch Miller Lite’s “Big Game” ad

By George Wheeler – strategist WMH&I

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