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How Do Brands Attract Women to the Metaverse?

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How should brands engage with women in the metaverse?

That’s the question EWG Unlimited, the innovation and influence arm of Elite World Group, pursued as it partnered  with The Female Quotient to release the first global report revealing the reactions, motivations and needs from women in a new Web 3.0 world.

Some 487 online interviews were conducted with females in the U.S. between May 31 and June 3. All data was powered by Ipsos consumer surveys, along with LinkedIn polling and interpersonal interviews.

“Consumer interest in the metaverse continues to grow exponentially, with the female consumer interest growing at a rate of 15 percent month-over-month — but even so, metaverse experiences are still largely geared toward men, with males dominating the creation and purchases of virtual goods,” said Erica Bartman, chief executive officer of EWG Unlimited.

“Our new findings reveal powerful, untapped approaches for brands to successfully engage with women across virtual experiences and immersive media, underpinned by influencer marketing expertise from EWG Unlimited, which claims an average engagement rate of 11 percent on digital and metaverse marketing campaigns, versus the industry average of just 2 percent engagement,” said Bartman.

Shelly Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient said, “Despite making up nearly half of online communities, female audiences and creators have long been overlooked or sidelined at the forefront of technological innovation. Leveraging Influence 3.0, brands have a major opportunity to adjust their Web 3.0 strategies to empower and educate the highly impactful female demographic, and we at The Female Quotient are proud to partner with EWG Unlimited to drive this tide of change.”

Entitled, “Influence 3.0: The Future of Influence for a New Generation of Web 3.0 Women,” the report offers brands a comprehensive playbook to engage female audiences in the metaverse, which will be unveiled live today at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

The report’s findings will be explored during live panel conversations and special events at Cannes Lions. Panelists will include Bartman, Zalis, actress, model, social media influencer and NFT enthusiast Alexis Ren; Emily Pero, Burberry vice president, marketing and communications, and Miranda Cantacuzene-Speransky, director of Elite Model Management London.

Among the key findings from the report:

  • Three out of four women have heard of the metaverse, but only 30 percent are truly familiar with it.
  • 43 percent of women ages 18 to 34 want to join the metaverse to connect and socialize.
  • 33 percent of women ages 18 to 34 would visit a metaverse experience hosted by a brand or influencer.
  • Young women are more likely to visit metaverse activations that have been inspired by brands or influencers they follow, but these activations need to center around interpersonal connections and community-building first.
  • For women ages 18 to 24, aesthetics are the second most important factor in continued metaverse engagement, behind number one, socialization.
  • Despite growing interest in the metaverse, there are still very few women who have accessed it. Only 14 percent of women have accessed a metaverse platform, such as Roblox or Decentraland. Among the small user base, issues with accessibility and education are paramount.
  • 53 percent of brand leaders say they are likely to test a Web 3.0 activation in 2022.
  • 13 percent of women ages 18 to 34 would attend a metaverse event hosted by an influencer they follow.

Specifically, women make up nearly half of all online communities, but female audiences and creators have long been overlooked or sidelined at the forefront of technological innovation, according to the report. The study pointed out that women ages 34 and under are more likely to be familiar with the metaverse than women over 35, with 42 percent of women ages 18 to 34 claiming to be very familiar or somewhat familiar with the metaverse. Only 29 percent of women ages 35 to 54 and 21 percent of women ages 55 and over claim the same level of familiarity.

Aesthetics are a key factor, and one in four women said beautiful aesthetics would keep them continually coming back to the metaverse. The report showed that most Web 3.0 platforms and goods are currently built by men. As interest from women in Web 3.0 commodities continues to increase, men continue to dominate how these technologies are engineered. In the NFT space, only 16 percent of creators identify as women. A lack of female representation in Web 3.0 engineering has led to inherent male bias in Web 3.0 and metaverse aesthetics.

Among the recommendations is that brands partner with female creators to create Web 3.0 content. They should blend physical and virtual experiences to meet women where they already are offline. They suggest tapping into talent to inform inclusive avatars and virtual product measurements and champion female artistry and thought leadership through NFTs.

One of the pain points is that 33 percent of women say their Internet connection is not strong enough to easily access a metaverse platform, and 24 percent of women say that they don’t understand the controls on how to access their account. Some 62 percent of women claim that they do not understand NFTs, and 36 percent of brand leaders see education and on boarding as the biggest hurdle for entering Web 3.0.

The report suggests brands share education resources and tools through social media and live experiences. They should create a platform for female creators and technologists to experiment and lead, and collaborate with Web 3.0 native talent to showcase female-led design and engineering on a global scale. They recommend joining a forum in the Equality Lounge by The Female Quotient, where leaders collaborate at key conferences to drive change and close the gender gap. Another recommendation is to recruit a committee of Web 3.0 thought-leaders to educate one’s network and kickstart innovation from the ground-up. EWG Unlimited has formed a Women in Web 3.0 Advisory Council, which aims to empower digital ownership and innovation for the highly influential female demographic.

The report found that most brands are still in the very early stages of Web 3.0 adoption, with 46 percent of brand leaders saying that they are unfamiliar with the metaverse and 24 percent saying that they are still in an experimentation phase.

EWG has created a step-by-step playbook for marketing leaders looking to maximize brand engagements as a first step in entering the metaverse.

The steps include analyzing your brand’s needs and target audience to determine your virtual footprint. They suggest engaging with existing customers and attracting  new loyalists by creating a bespoke brand environment, complete with your unique messaging and visual identifiers. Another step is experiment with reaching new Gen Z communities by plugging elements of your brand into gamified platforms like Roblox or Decentraland, and invest long-term in a crypto-native community strategy to reach core audience enthusiasts.

The report also recommends tapping into talent, and launching influential avatars by using real world talent and creating immersive content and experiences that resonate with native audiences. Another idea is to generate buzz by partnering with talent to conduct live chats, create NFTs and facilitate shopping experiences or entertainment exhibitions within the metaverse and engage talent to excite their community and drive traffic to your virtual brand experiences.

The report suggests considering NFTs and the metaverse as an extension of one’s customer retention strategy and an opportunity to authentically  connect with Millennials and Gen Z. They recommend brands use NFTs to create deeper connections with customers beyond single transactions, as evolving traditional loyalty programs. They suggest one thinks of one’s NFT holders as brand evangelists and treat them as VIP customers, and continue growing your audience and customer data pool with emerging virtual communications channels.

Acknowledging that today’s consumer exists across physical and digital spaces, the report noted that brands should be prepared to meet them in both arenas. They recommend one accompanies traditional product drops with virtual content or wearables, and create virtual-first product lines that can be worn in a variety of metaverse spaces, and increase conversions by integrating 3D video and imagery of one’s products onto one’s e-commerce site.