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Consumers’ online activity is split between a broader range of platforms. Virtual worlds or metaverses present new opportunities for brands to transport their consumers to highly engaging rich-media environments where they can explore, shop and interact with others. Combining interactive elements of social media and video games with aspects of digital commerce, these immersive experiences showcase brands and their products in exciting ways.
As brands look to engage consumers with an increasingly digital commerce landscape, they’re not only partnering with digital personas, but beginning to develop their own virtual ambassadors as well, providing greater control and flexibility in brand storytelling. In these virtual realms, creative content, authentic engagement, social spaces and community building experiences are critical, especially for Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers already steeped in the worlds of video games, digital avatars and virtual worlds. Looking ahead, as digital twin and avatar tools become more accessible and purely virtual spaces more prevalent, expect for real-life influencers to adopt digital doubles or a virtual identity of their own.
Digital personas like Ayayi are becoming particularly important in China as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). Ayayi, a ready-made persona, has worked with brands like Tiffany & Co. and other luxury companies on specific collection promotions. L’Oréal also created its own culturally sensitive avatar, Mr. Ou, a 24-year-old Franco-Chinese man, who is a beauty entrepreneur and sustainability guru. Their success shows that this is the beginning of a new culture of influencers where reality is a digital construct. This approach gives the company full control, with maximum flexibility to craft the desired personality and its narrative. The rise of the virtual influencer will become a battleground for brands. Virtual stars don’t age, get angry, bring up taboo topics, cheat on their partners, get arrested, or generally misbehave, making them an attractive proposition for brands.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, The Influencer Marketing Landscape.