Metaverse Beauty Week 2023 (MBW2023), the first annual beauty festival of its kind, kicked off on June 12. Devised by creative agency Cult, and hosted on Roblox, Decentraland, and Spatial, the event was created with the hope to not only get more beauty brands into the metaverse, but also challenge the relationship of beauty standards between our digital and virtual lives. The event had a global press reach of 1.8 billion individuals and was hosted across five days. Daily themes ranged from the reinvention of retail to the subversion of beauty norms.
“We started this journey with a core goal of challenging beauty standards. Self-expression is one of the most joyful aspects of beauty, and metaverse experiences allow for ultimate escapism, challenging you to redefine your identity. With this in mind, we are aiming to create a curation of experiences for MBW attendees that allow them to go away feeling inspired to create more both IRL [in real life] and IVL [in virtual life],” says Cat Turner, CCO of Cult and Metaverse Beauty Week co-founder.
Cult partnered with Web3 development pioneers NFT marketplace Exclusive to build unique environments awash in pastel pinks, blues, and purples. A “Navigating Metaverse Beauty Week” section was live on the platforms website to help ensure attendees navigate the space, while a virtual model, NYA, created by Australian digital artist Serwah Attafuah, welcomed guests into the Spatial, Decentraland, Roblox spaces, as well as in real life as wearable AR filter.
Gamification for the Win
One of the biggest plus points for the metaverse is staging a new and exciting way for consumers to interact with brand histories and product education. Discussing the working partnership with each participant, Bridey Lipscombe, CEO of Cult and Metaverse Beauty Week co-founder, states, “We’ve worked with each [brand] to truly reimagine consumer experiences for Web3 environments—with the intent to delight consumers and those experiencing their first time in the metaverse. We are learning as we go and hope that this inaugural event provides a huge amount of learning for the beauty industry as we continue to evolve our understanding of IVL experiences.”
Lush hosted their virtual store opening inside an astronomically sized Intergalactic bath bomb which fizzed away to reveal three different experience rooms: Fun, Rave, and Twilight—all nods to pre-existing Lush product ranges. The spaces were fittingly decorated with rose petals, neon lights, and nighttime skies according to themes. For those looking to let loose, Lush hosted Rave Wrap Parties to close out the festivities on Roblox and Decentraland.
Essence used the opportunity to create an adventure-themed game in Spatial based on its best-selling mascara, Lash Princess, and also released its first-ever Roblox game, Colour Dare, in which winning points translate directly into charity donations for Pride Month.
Valdé offered incentives such as full body armor wearables for visitors to wear across their online adventures, while MBW offered its own method of obtaining wearables with a BeautyBlox game. FFFace set up a showcase of AR filters in its XR and Web3 Product House.
Glossybox parcels dropped from the sky in Decentraland and scattered Glossyboxes across the scenery, offering viewers the opportunity to win a free Glossybox. The company reports 49% of Glossybox metaverse attendees clicked through to the Glossybox site, although the enterprise also placed 200,000 inserts into Glossybox orders across the UK to promote the event, which surely helped contribute to these numbers.
Neutrogena hosted five different gamified experiences throughout the week, including an educational skincare journey alongside brand ambassador Kerry Washington. Other interactive elements included fighting skin aggressors like windy weather, pollution, and sun damage, with Neutrogena products helping to protect the player. On press day alone, the total amount of time spent playing Neutrogena’s game activations was 29 hours and 25 minutes, with a 92% completion rate.
These interactive elements proved a hit with attendees. The MBW Beauty Plaza, hosted on Decentraland and created in partnership with Web3 specialist developers, had a 150% higher dwell time than the average beauty website. Meanwhile interactions across Decentraland in the first two days of public access reached over 68,000. Within an hour of going live, Metaverse Beauty Week was the #1 trending Spatial experience worldwide. Post launch day that momentum kept going, with the event staying at the top of the platform’s trending list for three consecutive days.
Lottie London set up The Lotterie using its best-selling TikTok viral products on Roblox. I Am Proud offered exclusive wearables of its bestselling products, and greeted visitors in the plaza with it’s brand mascot, the rubber duck, Sami, leading them to a pool area to swim and obtain further wearables.
“We are excited to be taking part in the first Metaverse Beauty Week with Lottie London and I Am Proud; we have repeatedly been pioneers of digital developments within the beauty category for many years. So, it’s only natural that we wanted to take part, and we are excited to explore new avenues and platforms such as Spatial and Roblox where we do not yet have a presence,” states Nora Zukauskaite, Global Marketing Director at Lottie London and I Am Proud.
“Championing independent brands, alongside bigger players and digital creators, was big goal for us with MBW. We’ve been thrilled that both Lottie London and I Am Proud are partnering with us on the first Metaverse Beauty Week. The Metaverse Beauty Week will be a space where brands can engage consumers to explore and redefine the future of beauty in their digital lives and really immerse themselves in the space,” Turner adds.
Online Meets Offline
In a smart marketing move, Metaverse Beauty Week extended its reach beyond Roblox. In a crossover between the physical and digital worlds, MBW2023, AR studio FFFace Me, and fashion brand Flannels hosted a beauty AR activation at the clothing company’s Oxford Street flagship.
It was “intended to rewrite beauty norms with AR filters that do more than enhance and retouch but instead distort and subvert beauty norms” via digital try-on possibilities featuring brands such as Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier. As for the online space, Flannels created makeup wearables for avatars based on collections by its stocked brands such as NARS, MAC, Pat McGrath Labs, and Charlotte Tilbury—building not only brand engagements but helping to secure visitors for next year’s events who may have otherwise not discovered MBW.
It’s no secret that online spaces are being transformed to wellness retreats for screen-bound individuals, and MBW2023 was no exception. When visitors weren’t busy collecting wearables or learning about skincare secrets, they could find an oasis of calm in the digital lands.
Wellness app Clementine hosted a “meta-tation” to increase visitor relaxation. Neutrogena offered a holistic brand exploration with a sound bath and breathing exercise-themed space for visitors to have a relaxing experience while collecting bottles of Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser to graduate to the next level.
Metaverse Beauty Week wasn’t just about games galore, but also engaging visitors in subjects ranging from the working realities of virtual content creation to how digital filters can help redefine beauty standards. Over 30 talks, masterclasses, and workshops were hosted throughout the week.
Talks were hosted by AR makeup artist Paige Piskin (outlining her career as a successful AR content creator), AR artist Inés Alpha (a keynote on subverting beauty norms), and Joy Fennell of creative design agency The Future In Black. Digital fashion brand The Fabricant hosted a masterclass on AR beauty filters, while influencer, creative director, and nail art designer CK Bubbles presented a talk on the history of nail art. Other panels included a chat with skinfluencer and esthetician Cassandra Bankson who currently has 2.2 million followers on YouTube. Bankson used the opportunity to announce an upcoming product collection launch.
While the inaugural Metaverse Beauty Week had a wide reach and offers an exciting premise, there is still a larger audience to reach. Cassandra Collective’s research amongst Gen Z audiences (60% of which access the metaverse for entertainment) showed that among the 35% of individuals looking to access the metaverse in the next 90 days, none knew of the existence of Metaverse Beauty Week, indicating that it is still a predominantly industry-only event that needs more widespread attention and coverage. As Forbes pointed out, industry titans like L’Oréal or Estée Lauder were absent from the event, as these conglomerates are working on their own structures on the platforms rather than joining industry-wide events.
But what it lacks in press, Metaverse Beauty Week makes up for in terms of access. Except for those with lagging technology or the Luddites among us, a wifi connection is all that is needed to hop on, regardless of the visitor’s location.
“The inaugural Metaverse Beauty Week is ripe with possibilities. Brought about with thoughtful planning by the Cult team and a great lineup of partners, there is a commitment towards harnessing the many facets of Web3, including interoperability, XR, and IRL ecosystems,” comments web3 futurist, Sasha Wallinger.
Zukauskaite adds, "We are really excited to have taken a part in this year’s Metaverse Beauty Week which, we are sure, will become a staple event within our industry for years to come. After exploring Decentraland last year with Lottie London, this year we were determined to launch Lottie London and I Am Proud into new platforms (Roblox and Spatial) to create new, engaging, and gamified experiences and further present our brands to new audiences and communities. As indie beauty brands that are leading the way within digital consumer experiences, we are eagerly looking forward to seeing how capabilities within metaverse will further evolve combining e-commerce trading elements as well as bringing it more into mainstream across both brands and consumers."
The beauty industry is still in its infancy of tapping into the metaverse’s full potential. Technical difficulties and trouble accessing these spaces remain the biggest barrier for the individual; creating unique and brand-synergistic activations that translate to rising sales figures are the challenges for brands. But with increasing momentum building through the inaugural edition, there is plenty of exciting potential for the future. After all, the projected $800 billion worth of the metaverse market is calling.
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