I recently talked to some people about virtual goods and what I heard were positive responses like “exotic”, “interesting”, “shut up and take my money” and of course negative responses like “my money in this?!”, “what’s the use?!”.
If you still don’t know what we’re talking about, calm down and I’ll tell you!
But first, let’s understand that in recent times consumer habits have changed drastically, mainly motivated by the expansion of e-commerce. Online shopping is fast becoming the preferred way to purchase products by consumers around the world. The advantages are numerous and it seems that the growth of this trend is irreversible.
But it’s not all flowers, online consumption does not allow some experiences you were used to, for example, being able to touch, squeeze, feel or try the products before buying them. Who has never taken that fluffy blanket and put it against their face to feel the softness before buying?
For many people, such as my wife, not being able to experience the intrinsic pleasure generated by the experience of contact is relatively frustrating. She cannot feel fully connected to the items she wants to purchase. I have witnessed a few times when she gave up on purchase for this reason, and of course, just like her, there is a huge group of consumers who have not yet managed to adhere to this new form of consumption.
In search of captivating these consumers, new technologies have emerged to fill the void left. A good example was IKEA, a Swedish company specializing in the sale of home furniture. The company has created a mobile app that uses augmented reality technology to give customers the experience of being able to see what furniture will look like in their home before they even buy it. In the app you can change the model, color and, with just one click, have the physical furniture in a few days at your door.
Ok, so far so good, when the product arrives I’ll be able to have my experience with it, I’ll be able to “taste” it, I’ll be able to touch, smell, squeeze and everything else I want to do with it. And if I don’t like it, I return it!
What if this product you purchased was only allowed to be used in the virtual world? Would you still buy it?
Italian-origin designer Gucci, who has already made fashion pieces for games like The Sims 4, recently launched an all-virtual tennis line for its consumers and online game characters. That’s right, they are sneakers that can only be used, or displayed in the digital world: the so-called virtual goods.
At first, the idea of bringing customers the experience of having a luxury brand object at an “affordable” price may seem like a marketing ploy, but in my opinion it goes beyond that, it is navigating a trend already advocated by movies and virtual games in the past: That we will all have a digital life, and that in it we can be different from our physical life.
If for some people it may not make any sense to have a virtual sneaker, for others it does! After all, we are talking about desire. Desire to have something that is only yours and that is very particular to each person.
Let’s change the product a bit and what if instead of buying sneakers to wear in your videos you bought an outfit for your avatar or game character? The gaming world has been selling this for a long time, it’s the skins, and games like League of Legends have their biggest revenue from these sales.
And now that we’re in this world of home-office and video conference meetings if you had the opportunity to build a custom shelf or wall instead of that standard beach background that everyone uses, something that was yours, with pictures, dolls, ornaments and any other object that brings you that feeling of happiness, would you buy it?
A survey published in 2019 by the Gartner Group estimated that “100 million consumers would make their purchases through augmented reality by 2020” and almost “46% of resellers would offer virtual and augmented reality services for its customers”.
Today we can say that the impact that virtual and augmented reality has generated in different sectors is remarkable, the numbers are expressive and the movement seems to be irreversible. A market that will gain more strength in the coming years and that is evolving at a rapid pace.
Well, this trend of virtual goods may be here to stay and technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, motion detection, NFT have come to make these dreams come true.
By Paulo Silva and Mateus Ignacio, Product Owners at Invillia