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Sword of Damocles hanging over the virtual world

13
Aug '07
The customer is part of the production process and even rounds off matters by actually designing his new leisure shoes: it is the final stage in a long value-adding process in which the consumer participates in the design process. This scene involving the much vaunted “prosumer” is not crystal-ball gazing.

In the virtual world, as in Second Life, this interaction between consumers and producers is already routine. This new form of interaction changes product marketing and development in the physical world.

On the one hand this enables the consumer's creativity to be incorporated into the development of the product range, and on the other, those responsible for marketing try to spot new trends in the physical world at an early stage by observing the behaviour of the so-called “residents”, or “netizens”, of the virtual world.

Trendy behaviour and creativity are the hallmarks of the virtual world. The very first time that prospective residents enter the virtual world they are free to decide on the appearance of their avatar – their virtual identity. But the virtual world is not limited to seeing and being seen.

Residents are far more interested in sharing experiences and interacting within a social network. The animated design also imbues the interaction in the virtual world with an emotional and group dynamic component for the individual behind the avatar.

Many companies – not just from the IT-related sectors –utilise this emotional component of the virtual world for their business model. The fact that emotionally based information is a great deal easier to remember helps in the transfer of knowledge via distance learning just as it does with new product launches that can be experienced in the virtual world before the actual marketing commences.

Many of the interactively developed products from the virtual world can even be delivered to the person behind the avatar as physical objects if desired. The virtual world thus turns some of the wildest dreams of marketing specialists into reality.

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Deutsche Bank Research


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