Using Virtual Technology and NFTs To Build Brand Awareness, Engagement, and Equity

Apr 27, 2022 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Virtual and augmented reality experiences may still feel like a distant strategy for most retail brands. However, with the metaverse and Web 3.0 taking hold, the demand for more immersive brand experiences is increasing every day. So, how can you leverage virtual technology to build awareness, engagement, and even revenue for your brand?

While virtual reality (VR) headsets might not be accessible or mainstream just yet, there are a number of other innovative ways to create blended reality experiences for your brand. From NFTs to interactive virtual storefronts, it’s never been easier to take that first step into the virtual world. And, with more and more consumers using and preferring mixed reality, the best time to get started is right now. 

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with David Lucatch and Michael Konikoff of Liquid Avatar Technologies to talk about creating blended reality experiences for your brand. Together, they discuss how virtual technology is accelerating in the retail space, the different ways to leverage NFTs for increased customer engagement, and why now is the best time to start building immersive brand experiences.  


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • David Lucatch shares the first step to using NFTs and virtual technology to build brand awareness and engagement
  • How mixed reality experiences can transform your retail brand — without requiring additional equipment like VR goggles
  • How long does it take to set up an immersive brand experience?
  • David explains how VR is being applied in the education sector and what the future holds for the food and apparel space
  • Common questions brands have about creating blended reality experiences
  • Michael Konikoff talks about transforming virtual technology into a sales and marketing channel
  • New and exciting ways to use NFTs in your business
  • Why it’s important for brands to get started in VR sooner rather than later
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Event Partners

Liquid Avatar

Liquid Avatar Technologies is an innovator in financial services, technologies, and products for the blockchain industry. It provides verified users with Self Sovereign Identity services to manage, control, and benefit from their digital identity.

Connect with Liquid Avatar

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

David Lucatch LinkedIn

Co-Founder, President, Director & Chair of Liquid Avatar Technologies

David Lucatch is the Co-founder, President, CEO, and Chair of Liquid Avatar Technologies, a company that focuses on the verification, management, and monetization of digital identity (DI). David has spent more than 35 years inventing technology and business solutions in the international marketing arena, with over two decades developing internet and mobile-based platforms and taking them to market. He is also the President of Imagination 7 Ventures and the Founder and Chair of Pegasus Fintech, Inc., which supports innovative solutions in the financial services, technology, blockchain, and cryptocurrency communities.

Michael D. Konikoff

Chief Revenue Officer at Liquid Avatar Technologies

Michael Konikoff is the Chief Revenue Officer at Liquid Avatar Technologies. He is also a Member of the Industry Advisory Committee at both Pegasus Fintech, Inc. and Crowdgener Inc. Before these roles, Michael spent almost 30 years in the customer loyalty and engagement realm. He served as the Head of Marketing at the Toronto Parking Authority and the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Engage People Inc.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

David Lucatch LinkedIn

Co-Founder, President, Director & Chair of Liquid Avatar Technologies

David Lucatch is the Co-founder, President, CEO, and Chair of Liquid Avatar Technologies, a company that focuses on the verification, management, and monetization of digital identity (DI). David has spent more than 35 years inventing technology and business solutions in the international marketing arena, with over two decades developing internet and mobile-based platforms and taking them to market. He is also the President of Imagination 7 Ventures and the Founder and Chair of Pegasus Fintech, Inc., which supports innovative solutions in the financial services, technology, blockchain, and cryptocurrency communities.

Michael D. Konikoff

Chief Revenue Officer at Liquid Avatar Technologies

Michael Konikoff is the Chief Revenue Officer at Liquid Avatar Technologies. He is also a Member of the Industry Advisory Committee at both Pegasus Fintech, Inc. and Crowdgener Inc. Before these roles, Michael spent almost 30 years in the customer loyalty and engagement realm. He served as the Head of Marketing at the Toronto Parking Authority and the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Engage People Inc.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18  

Happy Wednesday, everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the co founder and Managing Director here at BWG Connect. We're chatting networking group of brands and networking knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, questions, whatever it is that shaping digital today, and that's on the top people's minds. I spend a lot of my time helping brands out across the board, and I talk to about 25 to 35 brands a week, a startup, the fortune 100 Is everything from fashion to food, and everything in between. And it's from those conversations that we get the topics for the calls that we do, we're not planning anything more than really eight weeks out to stay extremely topical, we'd love to have a quick follow up conversation with anybody who joins today. We don't sell anything here at BWG Connect, it's just a networking group. But those conversations is how we're able to stay on top of those trends. More than happy to share across the board, what we hear is going on across the industry a couple housekeeping items before we get started. Number one, we're kicking this off at three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're going to wrap up with probably around five, maybe even six minutes left in the hour as well. We're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being liked. The other thing is we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So if you have any questions whatsoever in this space, that don't hesitate to drop into the chat, or the q&a or email them to me, And this is like anything around the metaverse, NFTs, AR, VR, mixed reality, whatever it might be. Just drop them. And we've got experts here that live in this space NFTs space every day and are leaders in the metaverse space across the board. So now's the time to ask them. And with that, we're gonna go ahead and kick it off. David, I'll kick it over to you first, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Liquid Avatar, that would be awesome. And then we'll pick the Michael and then kind of jump into the conversation, sound good.

David Lucatch  2:09  

Sounds great. Aaron, thanks for having us here today. It's, it's great to be here and welcome everyone. Liquid Avatar Technologies is a company that really specializes in its core digital identity. It's really that integration point between where identity is today and where it's going tomorrow. And we're seeing a lot of countries and jurisdictions and organisations moving away from paper and plastic into a more digital based system. But that's that's got a horizon of of a number of years. But it is happening today. We're you know, we're seeing countries putting age verification restrictions on online content, and looking at new ways to ensure that your privacy is met when you have to share information, and digital identity helps do all of that. But as part of our company, we also move from that digital identity that proving that you are you and creating connective tissue to other areas that are emerging, like digital avatars, and NFTs and digital certificates. Because if you can prove who you are, and use an intermediary to do something online, you can gain all the benefits of all the online services without having to disclose your your pure identity. And from that we also have forays into mixed reality. The Metaverse extended reality. So we're a fairly comprehensive company that really focuses on those three things digital identity, avatars, and NFT's and digital certificates, and then into mixed reality in the metaverse and I'd like to pass it back to Aaron to you or pass it over to Mike.

Michael Konikoff  3:49  

I'll take it I'll just introduce myself very quickly. Aaron, thanks for having us here today really, really excited about what this conversation is going to cover. I'm Chief Revenue Officer at Liquid Avatar. But my background is really around close to 30 years in the loyalty customer engagement realm and looking at the topic for today, certainly as an engagement specialist or expert. The future is really exciting in how the metaverse can integrate with businesses and brands and really excited about the style lockpick. 

Aaron Conant  4:33  

Awesome. So if we want to jump in, you know, just so everybody knows, we were having a conversation and kind of what I'm hearing from brands today is what's step one, right and so this using virtual technology and NFT's to build brand awareness, engagement and equity and when I was kind of, you know, talking with the Liquid Avatar team about it was like what people want to know like, what is what is step one? I realise it's out there I realised brands are jumping in and engaging. But is this buying a super computer? Step one, right? Is it you know, getting everybody inside my company like virtual headsets? Like, what is? What is this? What is step one. And I know you guys had a great example of it, which I think it'd be great worth pulling up, if you can pull it up here. But it was this because we're really talking about branding and brand awareness. And people want to play, they want to dabble. They want to understand it before they jump full in. And it was this oasis digital gallery that you brought up. So I don't know anybody if you're, if you're able to see a screen right now. And if not, we can drop into the chat. And you can, that's probably a great thing to do as well, I can drop it in the chat. And we can see like, what step one is, I think really looks like and this. But yeah, so I'll kind of kick it over to you, David, do you want to kind of walk through this as a whole, and then I'm gonna drop into the chat, so other people can see it. And again, if you have any questions whatsoever, drop them in the chat drop into the q&a, or email them to me,

David Lucatch  6:05  

So Thanks, Aaron. Um, you know, again, this is a good, good way to get started. So this is a this is a WebGL site that allows a user to experience what we would perceive to mixed reality in in a very simple and easy way. And, you know, we'll encourage you to go visit on your own, because when I do it on Zoom, it might be a bit choppy, but it's a smooth, smooth experience. And you can see that I can move with my mouse, and I can walk back and forth with my keyboard, I can just and you do this with your phone as well, I can walk around. And this first application is for one of our artists, Lin Mara, who's just doing an exposition on barcode ponies. And you know, sort of the colloquial representation of a barcode pony is a zebra. So Lynn is as put up a lot of her digital artwork on the walls here. And we can we can go for a quick walk around and see things and we're going to be adding new exhibition areas you can see over to your left and your right, as I go back and forth. And you can see different items on the wall, you can see some, some will have animation, some won't. And you can hear that we can actually add a comment at a pre recorded conversation, or a read soundscape into this. But this is a gallery just as you'd experience a regular gallery, a really immersive regular gallery, you can walk through and see different images on the wall, you can look up at the sky, you can you know, see the reflection of everything on the floor. So this is really cool because it gives a user an opportunity to experience a showcase, or experience a store or product display or information display. And when it comes to NFTs, each one of these is an independent and a key. So if I want to buy this particular vanilla custard barcode pony, I just hit the buy button. And it loads me up right to the site where I can purchase the item immediately. And I hope you can see that. I'm hoping that yeah, no. Yeah, we can. And this is where, like I

Aaron Conant  8:17  

said, putting it together is this is just done on a screen, which is where people are engaged. Yeah, a and all these different varieties. I mean, young kids who have been on Roblox or anything like that are used to floating around, you know, through, I would say galleries like this, but what hit me is this is just as easily turned into a store. Right? And is there a way then, you know, a question that comes in converting the NFT's to actual sellable goods. So which I think is fairly common as well and keep dropping questions in the q&a or the chat session where by the NFT in the virtual world and you have the shoes or the shirt or the dress or right you know, whatever actually shipped to your

David Lucatch  9:00  

right your home. Now this is the errand up and the question hit the nail on the head, just when I click on the Buy button, I can have choices. So right now I have a choice to buy this NFT. But this could be a catalogue page that shows me the opportunity to buy the painting that I want on my wall, but not only the painting on my wall, but I can click a button on the painting that I want to buy on my wall or put on my wall I'm sorry. And I could I could get an augmented reality experiences downloaded to my phone. So I could take that image and point it to my wall and see how it looks on the wall. Before I even bought it. I could have a screen print. I could have a T shirt. I could have a mug. I can have physical goods and digital goods. So I can buy I could buy if this was a t shirt on a mannequin. I could buy that individual t shirt for my for my avatar and of the real one physical one delivered to my home.

Aaron Conant  9:53  

No, I love it because I mean, this is the website then. Essentially you see just another very Shouldn't it is a website. But then rather than clicking back and forth between red and green, and purple, and large and medium and small, or you know, different styles or cuts or shoes, it literally can all be laid out in front of you at the same time. And still, you can add to cart,

David Lucatch  10:16  

right, and we can add information kiosks, and we can add all kinds of things. And you could have a customer service, just like we have here are, you know, display pony barcode pony, you could have, you could have a an image of a sort of a holographic customer service person in the middle of the room. And you can go there for information. This, what this is doing, Aaron is it's providing a stepping stone, from catalogue sales, from information based sales into something that we're all more in tune with an immersive experience. I although it isn't an immersive experience, my brain perceives it as an immersive experience, it's got depth, it's got sound, it's got, you know, it has, you know, I can see what's going on I can, I can move left and right, I can control the experience very, very easily as I would in a real environment. So it allows us to take a mixed reality of blended reality approach by blending, you know, our conventional sense with an extended reality and potentially augmented reality version, I don't need any goggles, I can do this on my phone, it is just so different than what we've experienced. And it doesn't require a whole lot of new programming, we do this effectively. And we can it can take any shape, it could look like a store floor, they could look like a trade show. It can look like a, you know, a meeting space. It's got so many applications here. How long does it take?

Aaron Conant  11:49  

So go ahead jump in.

Michael Konikoff  11:50  

I was just gonna I'm just gonna add a little context. That David David, you know, mentioned something about the fact No, no goggles or anything require What this essentially we talked about what's the first step this creates a real cool opportunity for a brand to sort of get their feet wet, and test out some ideas and some some activations in a way that is going to be very easy to reach out to an audience. They don't need anything other than their computer, their laptop, and they'll have access to it, but they'll enter their phone Michael and or their phone. Exactly. And but they get to experience, you know, the metaverse and, and and in a way that it's a little more comfortable but also cost effective. Right. So the first step around this is the ease of getting something done quickly to put out there to test and and and engage your customers. Yeah, so

Aaron Conant  12:47  

a couple questions like How long does it take to set something like this up? And this another comment is your ad, which I completely agree with? Is like that visual representation that leadership and executive teams want to see it right. It puts something tangible to the metaverse, which they don't have AR VR goggles, and they're not jumping on Roblox or whatever. But also the NFT, where it's like, Wait, people are just buying digital stuff. That's not even real. And this is kind of like that. That's what I think that this is it's the bridge into explaining and demonstrating a this is an NFT, this is a visual representation of it. Oh, by the way, I can connect back to a direct consumer site. But how long does it take to set something like this

David Lucatch  13:31  

up? It depends on the complexity, of course, but we're, you know, we're talking on average, to retool something would take us four to six weeks. Now. That's, that's based on our current schedule, it'll get faster and there's, there's new immersive experiences, one of the things we're working on right now with a retailer and a group in Germany is, is they want to have setting showroom settings of what if you pick a chair in a table and, and a whole bunch of a whole bunch of furniture for your home, they want to see a realistic representation of what it would look like in a room. You know, so So it isn't a long period of time. You know, again, it depends on the planning, it depends on everything else. But usually, usually delivery is is is reasonably quickly. By the end it's it's very, very cost effective. And and I agree with what that comment wasn't Aaron, what you said is it gives leadership an opportunity to understand the experience. And and I don't see anyone in a leadership position not looking at this and going wow. This way especially start putting your own brand think of your own brand experience in here. And it doesn't have to look like the walls are set up here. But think about your own brand experience and what we could do together to make that brand experience work for you. Yeah, just really quick, your,

Aaron Conant  14:51  

your what's your website question comes in what is David and Michael's website?

David Lucatch  14:56

Aaron Conant  15:01  

So we can drop it, man on the back end, if you want to just drop it in the chat to everyone, you

David Lucatch  15:05  

could turn to that. That'd be great. That is no, I agree.

Aaron Conant  15:09  

This is these are the questions that come up over and over again. And I would say like from the NFT standpoint, it puts a visualisation, you know, it helps you to visualise. Okay, this is this is an NFT. Are you then connecting on the back end? The question comes in, are you connecting on the back end to the direct to consumer site, so that the process, you know that the transaction is processed there?

David Lucatch  15:32  

Yeah. So, we have, we have a group that we've put together that and this is where it really gets pretty amazing, is not only do we do this whole process and go right to the work with our clients go to the checkout counter, we actually have integration into Shopify number one. And number two, if that's required. Number two, these NFT's these particular NFT's can be paid for with PayPal, or a credit card, you don't have to have crypto. So what we're finding in one of our experiences that 92% of participants are paying with non crypto based wallets. They want to, you know, how big is the crypto market is large? Let's be honest, it's growing. But how big is the non crypto market? It's massive. So if you can start getting digital collectibles, because that's what we think of nfts digital collectibles into the hands of your average constituent and we have a very, very simple process to make this work, you're going to start to create high margin low cost items that reinforce your brand and create new brand experiences that that that connect to your current brand experiences.

Aaron Conant  16:41  

Yeah, no, I love it. The collectibles thing is well, yeah, because I think a lot of people are looking at it as hey, you know, we're just gonna go out there. And we're going to dump all of our products on to, you know, an experience like this, and it's gonna go crazy. But if you look at it, realistically, collectibles is a great place to start. But it's just again, it's another stepping stone as well. Others, if you have questions keep dropping in the q&a or into the chat, we'll keep getting them answered. What's the like? What's the number? Like one transition that you see here? You keep talking about mixed reality? You know, is it that you're seeing this go from a point where they're viewing it on the screen to dropping the couch in their living room or the painting on the wall? Before we have to you know, you can do that via your mobile device? Before we get to VR headset, right? I mean, what is your timeframe on the VR headset so that people can say, Yeah, we agree with you, executive team, that's five years away. But what's the here and now we'd love to hear your thoughts there?

David Lucatch  17:41  

Well, it depends on the application. So when we were looking at and involved in a couple of projects for education, and so, you know, some classrooms are starting to talk about outfitting like you would a library right, you know, you don't put all the books in a school, a school has available and I'm dating myself, of course, in in, you know, in every room, you have a central location, or in some schools, they have a central location for a computer hub. So, some schools are now talking about putting in virtual headsets. And we've designed a number of applications, including education applications, that allow students to do solve math problems, or English issues or scientific experiments, all in virtual reality. So that's really cool. So we're in education, we're seeing an acceleration. We're also seeing an acceleration for training. So I was explaining this. Yesterday, I was in Los Angeles, and there was with a family manager for breakfast, and she's in her early 80s. And she was asking me about this. And I said to her, Well imagine that you were a young person wanting to fix a car. Now, you'd have to get the car into a place. You want to learn how to fix a car, you have to go to where the cars are, you have to fix them. But we could add virtual reality. So you can learn and understand how an engine block works, or electrical engineering or mechanics, or anything through a virtual application, which can be shared 1000 times as easily as it shared once in your own location. So there are some really quick horizons. But when it comes to retail, we think it's certainly a crawl, walk run. We think that that brands need to get into the game. A lot of brands are announcing we're going to be in the metaverse, we're going to be coming to the metaverse. But what does that really mean? And we're seeing the first application being somewhere between and we're seeing a lot of traction in WebGL right now. But the earlier than that we were seeing augmented reality, but people still weren't sort of getting it. You know, we do if we want to buy a piece of furniture and show how it's in our living room. But how do I create an immersive experience that I can share with myself and others and we think this type of application this extended reality, or this blended reality is really where the the immediate future is? Yeah,

Aaron Conant  19:57  

no, I agree. Especially you No as photorealistic as you can make with the engines on the back end now, right for the 3d imaging that's out there. You know, if you look even to like a Crate and Barrel website, it's like something like 80 plus percent of the images on there are just CGI. Right and in, you'll see it and you can rotate and you spin it, but it's all CGI directly and the fabric looks real, the shading looks real, the pattern on you know, the leather looks real. It's, it's indistinguishable to a normal person. Well, this easily becomes a storefront. Even when you look upwards into you know, high fashion, right? Beauty cosmetics, we're given a realistic, you know, look feel sheen, whatever it might be. Are you seeing this over index into certain categories?

David Lucatch  20:54  

The answer is, is it's right now it's it's all over the map. Because we're seeing everything. And it's amazing. We're seeing food services, food services want to get get into the metaverse, when you think, Well, you know, how much is an avatar really going to eat as an avatar ever going to be hungry, right, but you can take the food experience and and really blend it into something where the value proposition Isn't that my stomach is full from eating that great food, but I got a boost or a power up for my game that I might be playing, or I got a collectible by collecting enough you know, fast or quick serve meals, or whatever the case may be. But here's the key by by attaching digital identity to the NFT. And then to the experience, it's very easily done that you can then connect a food delivery service to that intermediary position. And then when someone orders this virtual meal, that real meal can be delivered to them immediately. So Michael has a really great example, I'm not going to take this away. But Michael, maybe you want to explain the example, you know, of the pizzeria, that might be a really good one to look at.

Michael Konikoff  22:03  

Yeah, so, you know, there's, there's, there's a big appetite, excuse the pun around the restaurant, there's a big appetite to, you know, the cooking channel and learning how to do a whole bunch of different things. And so, you know, we like in the journey of, you get to come into a virtual pizza shop, and you can meet the owner, the pizza maker, and the pizza maker can take your avatar, and walk you through the experience and you could throw throw the dough and you can spread the sauce and you can pick your toppings. And at the end of the day, you can, you can do a couple of things. One thing would be turn it into an NFT and there's your pizza and if the but the other thing you can do is actually transact place the order and have that pizza delivered to your house. So it's the conversions of online and offline. And, you know, for a brand, I think that's kind of the you know, the flow of any activation consideration should go along how to it's one thing, you know, get the NFT's but get the offline to generate as much potential revenue as you can, you know, get a more successful monetization and it also provides you great layers of metrics and but, you know, it's kind of like if you can think of the idea, you could you could take a look at what we just showed you and think of it as just a blank canvas. And you could as brand take a look and start envisioning you know, an experience with your sneakers are an experience with your you know, your media company or whatever and I think it's it's it's there's some great opportunities here in the early stages of the salon journey. Right and and so, you know, there's it's an easy way to get your feet wet. Engage and look at his new social medium, and option to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

Aaron Conant  24:03  

Or integrating them. Yeah, yeah, I think a branded partnerships especially in the food and apparel space, right when you're engaging because the reality is there's not that there's we'll say either there's multiple metal verses or there's a Metaverse composed of a bunch of universes, right? Facebook will have one and Google have one apple have one Amazon will have one the San Diego Zoo will have one, right and in the ability within each of those right to form brand partnerships, kind of like you're saying maybe there's a booster maybe it's a Red Bull. Right, right. Maybe Red Bull is partnering with Roblox and instead of you just buying the special accessory pack at Red Bulls, right, willing to go in and a marketing campaign for that to be, you know, you know, a special blue stuff that you get, but then, like you're saying it's all tied to a digital identity. So maybe you've bought 10 of them. So you get a free case of Red Bull because now you're a brand ambassador there's so many different levers that we're just starting to peel back right are different layers the onion, we're starting to peel back that I don't agree they nobody's no avatar actually gets hungry. But there will be ways that you know people that are first the game are going to have that, you know, first mover advantage on setting up the partnerships and getting the leverage and the data around who's really using it who's not

Michael Konikoff  25:27  

avatars or avatars may not get hungry. But you know, your avatar is still your digital twin. And we all like to wear the T shirts that say things like barstool or Nike or Puma or, or eat Salar, ah, there's, there's as much an appetite for people's avatars to show your own personality on your avatar, even though you're not seeing the your face, but it's a chance for an individual to establish their personality the way they might really see themselves today. So some really cool things. So think about, you know, selling, selling or or putting people into a play to earn and the Earn could be some clothing to put onto your avatar, but then that clothing can also be shipped to your home address. And it's a double, it's a double bang on now. I mean, it's

Aaron Conant  26:25  

an advertising play at the end of the day, right? I mean, Facebook changed the Meta, right? And Facebook sells advertising Meta is looking to go in the metaverse and do branding and advertising and paid media and promotions and everything else. That's just the that's the reality. That's how they make money is advertising. Yeah, are there other interesting, like, questions that you guys commonly run into? Because I know like, right now we're at the forefront of this. And I think you've cracked the code with that Oasis thing, you know, from a visual, being able to launch get people immersed in it, it's not super expensive. And you can get rolling with it it and start toying around and playing with it. What are the most common questions that you guys have to answer on a routine basis?

David Lucatch  27:10  

Well, you know, there's lots of them. But if you build it, will they will they come in? The answer is, we're seeing them coming, right? Because, because especially when we think about demographics, I was with a client on Monday in LA and, and I said to them, that, you know, they handle a million students a year. That's the programme. And and, you know, they're a very established brand. And, you know, they're thinking about where to step it into this new reality. And I said, you know, your constituents are already doing it. So let me start by saying, everybody's already doing it. So if you talk to the, the, you know, the marketing department or the C suite, if they've got, you know, kids that are probably eight years old and above, they're on these things already. They're doing that. So those are your next level, your next generation of major consumers and influencers that will influence the parents. So people ask us, you know, when's the right time to come in? Well, now and then they say, Well, your shirt. No, it's now starting, you know, you want to say yesterday, but I don't think that would be polite. The second thing is, do I have to live within the laws of physics? The answer's no. So an automobile company, or automotive company could launch flying saucers. It doesn't have to be what you can be very aspirational. So it doesn't have to be just what you have. You can be aspirational with your brand, you know, you can use concepts that you might not have otherwise done that. And I think we've seen some of that. There's, there are some rights issues, obviously, you know, using music or video or certain certain rights issues. But I think what really people want to focus on is, is how can we take our brand? How does our brand fit in? Whether it's food, or apparel, or hard goods, or consumer packaged goods? And what is what is that opportunity, and that's where we really come in, because we really think outside the box, and we're trying to work with our clients to give them things as Michael said, will convert create that conversion process, but at the same time, make it grounded in in their own reality. I love

Aaron Conant  29:18  

it from the standpoint of as I'm kind of like processing it as we chat here. Think of it less is that channel for sales and more that that channel for marketing for brand awareness is kind of this transition that brands are going through right now with Amazon realising Wait, they're not a retailer. Right? They are. They're a platform, and they just happen to move a lot of goods. But when people are like, Oh, they have these complaints on Amazon like hey, they they won't negotiate, they won't come to the table. They won't you know, I can't have any, you know, wiggle room on damage or Co Op allowance like, Yeah, I mean, Facebook, Google, they're not coming to the table either. And it's just is what it is. This is almost one of those new mediums where don't approach it like it's this giant, you know, sales channel right now. But marketing in in brand awareness across the board is kind of what comes top of mind to me. I also think about it from the shopping standpoint of that experience. But being able to go through any kind of store a grocery store, and walk into the cheese section, and being able to flip around all the different cheeses that are there, see all the different nutrition facts, it's much easier than clicking back and forth and trying to, you know, I can see, you know, eight different options just like I do in the grocery store, as opposed to just whatever the platform decides to show me at that point in time, can come incredibly interactive. And I don't have to have a virtual headset on for an hour why go shopping?

Michael Konikoff  30:53  

Example, you know, think about, you're going through the grocer, and you come to coffee, and you have a plethora of choices, and some are organic. And think about the fact that right there, you could click on something, and a whole information package comes illuminating in front of you, talking to you about the region where the coffee is coming, why why this brand is is concerned about the environment and things like that. And I think one of the things we're not really touching on that's very important for what for this discussion is, it's a great opportunity for information and learn. Right, and and there are a lot of brands that aren't necessarily product driven, but are service driven, and the opportunity to create, you know, learning experiences, whether it's a financial institution or an insurance institution, and it creates a great opportunity for lifecycle lifecycle work, right, you capture someone coming in from financial planning, and you have young kids graduating, and you bring them in at the lowest earliest level and start, you know, immersing them in education and stuff that normally they're there. The resource that they would use it, the bank would tell them, it's there's tremendous opportunities that also will help brand, but service brand as opposed to product brand. And I think education is a big area where we're going to see a lot of growth.

Aaron Conant  32:23  

No, I love it, it'll outside of just the branded side of things. I agree universities using it, right? I mean, that's, that's a virtual setting that you just put, you just show dollars main things that pop up, whether it's, you know, bandwidth, web 3.0, whatever it might be. We'd love to hear your thoughts there.

David Lucatch  32:46  

Well, you know, the, you know, the vision of the metaverse is really, we're starting to hear things like you know, six g, you're gonna need really, if you're going to be wearing glasses or goggles, you're gonna need a lot of computing power, what we just showed on on our Oasis digital gallery read needs very little computing power. So we've kept it really sort of low bandwidth, web 3.0 is all about decentralisation. But you know, I'm more focused a lot of and a lot of areas in web 3.0. But it's really putting the consumer in charge of content, that's really the important part is the consumer becomes the driving force, and what they want to see and how they want to see it, rather than just the we want to offer it. So this, you know, as as Michael said, you know, you look at something for organic coffee and see a plethora of opportunities, and you see information and you can consume visually and interactively much faster than just reading something. Right? You know, so it's, it's a new way of consumption, putting that content control back in the hands of of your constituents, ya

Aaron Conant  33:55  

know, completely agree. And just reminder, if you're gonna keep dropping questions in the q&a, or chatting them in. What's the so you said it's six day eight weeks to get something like this rolled out? What is phase two, right? So I love that rendition of phase one, right? The first step that people can take, what is the second step looking like for the brands that you've been working with? Well,

David Lucatch  34:18  

it what we're seeing is, is they're absorbing and taking offline all the information that they've been able acquiring, and all the input. Again, this is still a little bit of new road and now what they're doing is reassessing what their next steps are and I think those are going to become much more individualised. You know, do we need a bigger space do we need? Do we need a space to emulate a retail experience? Do we need it to be what what is that next experience? Because I think the first thing is don't try and do too much in step one. Right? If you try and do everything in step one, you're going to be offering too much too fast. It really is really a crawl stage. You've got to get out there you've got to let your constituents give Your feedback. And I'm sure Michael can add a lot to this. But it really is creating that feedback cycle so that when you go to step two, and you want to really now say, do it, turn it from a marketing into a sales channel, because ultimately, we want to create revenue from this, what are our best steps to do that? Michael, you may have some comments on that.

Michael Konikoff  35:17  

Yeah, I mean, you know, anytime you're planning any type of activation or execution, you're gonna have a set of goals for it for our objectives for that. So, you know, you're going to take a look and say, Okay, what am I hoping to achieve from here and create some KPIs that you can actually measure. And so maybe it's, I want to see that I can get x amount of people just to come in and experience out of that I want to get, I want to get X amount of interactions, people clicking on buttons to read and engage, and sort of track the metrics all along the way. So that and last but not least, and David alluded to, it is in there having some form of survey to hear back from the customer, what the experience was, like, where you felt it was a little chunky, where you felt was a little too hokey, right, and then go back and take all this learning and say, Okay, here's what we were able to achieve. These were our goals, we made it to here, this is exciting, we can probably take it to the next stage. And what will the next stage be? Well, let's figure out what the objectives are that we want to achieve. But I think that's one of the fundamental, that needs to be incorporated, because there's no way to gauge it unless you have, you know, clear, concise KPIs that you want to achieve and that you can measure against them. And the

David Lucatch  36:44  

FBI, sorry, my economy, I want to have one more thing. In business, we all want to be differentiators. We all want to differentiate ourselves from our competition, our segment. And and these tools can help answer the why why are we different? Why are we better? Why do we do things more uniquely? Because? Because you're going to be able to put a virtual sales or information team in front of people interactively, where that's not impossible before? It what are the

Aaron Conant  37:20  

major then KPIs that you're you're looking at? Is it you know, visits? Is it engagement? You know, what for me is like, if a company can sell an NFT, that's like a major breaking point, right, or major landmark, I should say is, look, we sold our first NFT. Because I think 98% of the people in the companies probably won't really understand what that is or what it means. But what are your kind of like KPIs and metrics that you're kind of helping brands out with today?

Michael Konikoff  37:50  

I think you're correct. I'm sorry, David, did you want to talk? No, all out after you go ahead. I think I think you you're being on when you're going to take a look and say, anytime you're going to do something, you know, you got an outcome that you're hoping to get. So what was some of the key KPIs for me would be how many people actually came? How many people that I reached out to how many people came? How many people did I convert? How, how far into the experience did people go if it's multiplayer immersive, you know, how many steps that people actually come up and click and then go into, you know, if there's transactional component to it, how many NFT's actually sold, how many transactions that related to offline delivery, like things like that, become real key metrics, that you'll be able to say, hey, this didn't work for us. But then take the feedback you get from the customers and say, okay, it didn't work for us, but they're telling us some things that maybe we didn't consider. And let's go take another shot at it, taking that insight. And, I mean, that's how you want to build for success anyways, you want to be able to understand what it's going to take to create that engagement cycle with a customer. And it's a great opportunity to to measure, engage and have consistent, you know, communication one to one communication with with your customers and make sure that whatever you're doing is ultimately resonating. And, and and meeting you know, the the key requirements, you have to keep that customer for the long conversation.

David Lucatch  39:25  

I was gonna add to that I was gonna say that in a lot of cases, we're seeing it not not work, but actually work and how can we make it better? The the the other thing, I think, which is really important here is in the KPIs is is is do you want to sell an NFT? So let's let's take a moment and talk about that if we sell an NFT, what does that mean? How's the implications to accounting inventory control? We we've seen all these things from professionals saying, how do we measure monitor this? Well, what if we just want to give away a collectible? What if it's what if it's a gift with purchase us What if you buy something physical and get a get a digital item for free? What if it's, it's we want to introduce you to some upcoming promotions. And here's an NFT, that gets you, it isn't an NFT, that gives you something, but gives you access to something. So if you have this NFT in your wallet, you can extend you can, you know, join us for a special premiere a month from now, or a or a private viewing of of something. So by by doing that, you can create new and new and interesting ways to engage using NFTs, and using this experience as a way to increase sort of FOMO. And that's what everybody's looking to do today. And and the measurement might be well, how do we get people into event three weeks from now? Well, we'll drop an NFT. And again, one of those things is, is that if the NFT needs to be connected to a digital identity, because they need there's some restrictions, or some other stuff that can be achieved as well. So I think it really is, what is it? What it's not just the kpl. But what are you trying to achieve? Are you looking to build brand? Are you looking to build engagement? Conversion? Are you looking to get people to go from point A to point B, we've really got to talk about those objectives and goals first.

Aaron Conant  41:20  

So question that comes in. Is it as easy as adding a view in our virtual, you know, website format? Like is it easy as is adding a button, right is adding the link on your current direct consumer page? Like, hey, check out our new virtual store?

David Lucatch  41:35  

Yeah, it's a website. Yeah, it's a website, we, we can do preview pages, it's, it's actually pretty easy. This is, this is a website. So it's sort of like a mini site. If you're launching a mini game, or you're launching a mini event, or you're launching something, this is what it is. And it can also act as a front page to a store. So again, if you know, as I as we did the walkthrough, you clicked on the NFT on the buy button, it opened up a Shopify store. That's what he did. So it's not that complicated. We've really, you know, taken all the mystery out of this and made it simple and elegant for people and brands to engage with.

Aaron Conant  42:15  

So a question that comes in here on the chat. As brand marketers, are there recommended resources, which will help us become subject matter experts on NFTs and how to structure marketing strategies around it? Wow.

David Lucatch  42:29  

Well, while the answer is there's there's a lot of different information out there. I don't think most of the information out there has been consistent or necessarily great. from a resource standpoint, I think. I'm trying to think of some of the some of the different publications out there. So the VR ARA, the virtual reality and augmented reality Association, which we belong to an unco Chair of the metaverse committee. There's a lot of good information there. And a lot of good resources. So I think it really is that this is still an emerging space. We're seeing a lot of articles out there, like Digiday is good. And VentureBeat published a lot of good information. But I don't think there are really yet consistent resources, because it is still a bit of a learning experience.

Aaron Conant  43:25  

Awesome. And if others Yeah, if you want a conversation with Michael or David 100% worth a follow up, chat with them in this space, kind of have them walk, you know through what they're doing. But also they can do an evaluation of where you're at and kind of recommendations around, hey, this is what step one looks like. They're also They're obviously a great resource for brands, the network can come highly recommended for their expertise here. So I would say worth 100% worth of follow up conversation. You know, it is the ideal setting to kind of dip your toes in, so to speak, without having to go full, full bore, you know, virtual reality and headsets and issue that to all your customers. But also, I can see in the issue of the NFTS or the special drops where the gift with purchase can actually be the NFT and say, Hey, go claim it in our version store where they actually have to log in, and then walk through the virtual store. And it's almost like you're forcing them to immerse in there if they want it. Right. And it's simple. It is log in there on the website, but you're giving them a brand new experience and how to experience your brand. You know, for sure it did. Oh, and maybe they go claim it they get $100 coupon or a half off coupon or something like that, for anything they buy in the virtual store that also gets shipped to their home. It's I think there's so many different levers that can be pulled there. I mean, I'm excited for like, you know, a call six months from now, that's what I'm excited for. Other things that you would think are key takeaways. I don't have other questions that have come in over the q&a here or over the chat? What are like key takeaways that you would have? And again, you know, everybody on the line today more than happy to connect you with Michael and David, it's, it's time well spent just to put 30 minutes on and pick their brains and, and see what they're doing. Because, you know, this is step one, but you know, what are key takeaways? I'll go to you first, Michael, and then I'll kick it over to David and others. If you have last minute questions, drop

Michael Konikoff  45:23  

them in key takeaways, I think, you know, to realise that there's, well, first of all, that we're in the early stages, right, this is, these are the early days of of the metaverse and there's great opportunity now, to get into the discovery stage. Immerse yourself a little bit into how it can work for your brand. There's great opportunities to test and and at low cost, but with potentially great return on on that investment. And, you know, it's a discovery of new ways to, to engage your consumer and reach your consumers to reach your consumer beyond the traditional channels. And I think it's a safe bet. That, you know, more and more people are going to be spending more and more time in the metaverse especially as it evolves. So it's coming in, and it's relevant. And so, you know, now's the best time I think, to start looking at it, figuring it out, can work with with in your, your environment, and go and take a little budget and execute a few things and

David Lucatch  46:40  

go from there. So I'm gonna comment, I think that was excellent. I'm gonna comment that, um, you know, ask your friends, if their kids are playing Roblox, Minecraft, or any other game online. And if they are, you already know that the people are there, because generally speaking, many parents that that we talked to us, as senior leaders, say, if I have to give my kids any more money for these games, it's going to be you know, it's a difficult situation, right, they're always doling out money. So the market is already there, people are already playing this, they when the pandemic sort of really hit, gaming was up like 75%, in the first few weeks, online gaming is there, we're all have become more attuned to working, living and playing online. So this is this is a natural evolution. But this at this time, it gives you an opportunity to control the experience, you're not your you know, your you don't need to be the only leader, but you need to lead, you need to show where your brand is going to fit in this. Some brands and especially high fashion brands, they are doing millions of dollars in events. And when there is a digital event, and I'm not saying that, that everyone can duplicate that, but there have been so many amazing experiences, and more and more that we're building. So I think it's the key takeaway is you're going to want to put your toes in the water. So start early doesn't mean you have to execute or execute early. But start early. Michael and I are available to speak to you if you wish, there's no obligation, we're happy to talk to you because we may think of things that you guys haven't thought of. And we might be able to point you to other opportunities that that that might be best for you, or other resources. But I think it's it's someone once told me that you can make a decision and you can change your mind as you go but make a decision. So I think getting into this space and at least learning how your brand would benefit from this is probably the biggest takeaway that we could give you.

Aaron Conant  48:51  

No, I I agree. And I think kind of your point there which is if your kids are on Roblox or you see kids on Roblox or on Minecraft, and I don't know, 150 other games out there. That literally is the metaverse and what it is, is they're they're used to it and playing there and the it's going to be here quicker than we know but is the metaverse isn't it I was trying to break it down is not just people wearing 3d, right VR goggles wandering around in stores and attending concerts and everything like that. The Metaverse is literally can be two dimensional on your desktop or on your mobile device. And so it's a place where people are at today and transactions are being made and I don't think people are behind just yet but they will be rapidly in the next three to six months because this is accelerating faster. So anyways, what's the best way to set up an appointment you know, we can connect we'll just send out a follow up email as a as a just a courteous email afterwards connecting everybody to Michael and David. Again just you know follow up via that to set up time on there too. calendar. You know, they're great resources. And with that, I think we can go ahead. I don't have any other questions coming in right now. But again, you know, thanks for being such great friends and partners, Michael and David, it's great to have you guys part of the network. You know, and for everybody, we've launched the podcast. You can find it on our website, we can drop in a link afterwards as well. But we'll be hosting David here probably next couple of weeks. But with that, we're going to wrap it up. Hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday, a great rest of the week, everybody, stay safe, take care and look forward to having you at a future event. Thanks again, everybody.

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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