F&B Industry: Smitten by the Metaverse Wave?
Considering the many benefits that metaverse brings to the table, the F&B industry should keep an eye on latest trends and the space to know when it is the right time to invest in such technologies.
Image credit: Freepik
Imagine a world where billions of people interact, live, work and shop but virtually – all from the comfort of their couches in the physical world. In the world that we live in today, computer screens have become portals to 3D virtual realms like real life – but bigger and better. Digital recreations of ourselves or avatars move freely from one experience to another as metaverse has become the buzzword of the day.
What exactly is Metaverse?
Metaverse is a hypothetical iteration of the internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality. The access points include general purpose computers, smartphones, AR and VR and mixed reality.
Through the integration of Internet of Things ( IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Mixed Reality, the metaverse in manufacturing industries will enable the creation of digital twins of places, processes and real world objects allowing organizations to effectively monitor, analyze and interact with complex systems in real time. Manufacturers can also use virtual production lines to teach and educate employees about remote maintainance and machinery control via the metaverse.
Opportunities for manufacturers
As metaverse is an ever evolving ecosystem which is gaining massive popularity, it will be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the following opportunities:
- Training employees more quickly and safely :
Now, companies have begun training employees on how to use and maintain equipment through the use of VR headsets instead of having them use physical equipment which can be dangerous or difficult to use. An experiment was carried out by MGM Resorts in partnership with VR firm, Strivr, to allow job seekers to try out roles using virtual reality to reduce employee churn.
In addition to this, trainees also get the liberty to make mistakes in a virtual environment without having to face real world consequences compared to on-the-job training with heavy equipment or dangerous environments. And it is for the same reasons, many companies are looking to deploy VR training as a first step for training their new employees, especially for industrial or other heavy industry scenarios.
- Simulations ahead of physical deployments:
In manufacturing, digital twins can be used to compare the design of a product to the physical version produced. Digital twins are technologies which make use of all of the components of a physical “twin”. For example, many autonomous vehicle designers now utilize simulations of real-world locations to fine tune and equip the vehicles to operate better.
- Using AR/VR to repair equipment on the job:
Field service workers and technicians can also get assistance on equipment maintenance and support through AR, VR and MR technologies. This accelerated during the pandemic when support teams were limited by travel restrictions and health concerns. According to McKinsey, use of this technology can improve the attitudes of workers in the field, without feeling they are being watched or monitored by their employer.
- Collaborate product designs around the world:
With VR, design engineers can collaborate remotely from around the world and create a virtual design.
- Building physical products from virtual designs and vice-versa:
The bridging of the physical world will provide several opportunities for manufacturers potentially unlocking new revenue streams. While virtual-to-virtual commerce has been around for years in which a consumer can purchase digital items with real money, new concepts are arising in which physical products can be created by designs originating in the virtual space. For example, toy company L.O.L Surprise creates card packets with a QR code that can be scanned to unlock NFTs and virtual experiences.
Image credit: Freepik
How will Metaverse matter to the food and beverage industry?
The adoption of metaverse by the F&B industry is of extreme significance as it allows multiple industries to expand their businesses and is not just an opportunity for the gamification of their food business.
Foodverse can be a platform for people to order food, deliver it and experience new culinary experiences that are enhanced with the aid of virtual tools. It can serve as a unique environment for various food enthusiasts, business owners, chefs and companies to come together to explore different cuisines, dishes and food products. Metaverse could also serve as an excellent business opportunity for many F&B players who had hugely been affected by the pandemic and the use of the same can positively impact such services. Also, it has the potential to be extremely pertinent in the expansion of the food community beyond different countries and can unite people from different religions, food habits and geographical boundaries on the technological and food front.
- Loyalty programs & promotions: Restaurants can have digital versions of their physical location in the metaverse where customers can walk in and sign up for loyalty programs.
- Dining Clubs: Brands can look into unique dining experiences that can be purchased using digital tokens or NFTs.
- NFTs for collectibles: Food and drink brands can also allow users to purchase unique digital collectibles that are of a kind or they can offer NFTs that can be exchanged for specialty items or meals in real life.
- Cooking Classes: Restaurants can offer cooking classes to help people learn how to make healthy meals or teach them how to make certain meals that exist on their own menu.
- Online ordering & reservations: Restaurants can also have digital spaces in the metaverse where users can walk in and place an online order or reservations which translates to a real order or reservation.
- Virtual Tours: Restaurants can offer customers an inside look of their facilities such as winery or brewery tours and can also offer customers ways to make purchases during the tours.
Image credit: Freepik
Top players of the F&B industry already into metaverse
Multiple major food chains, producers, outlets and giant players are investing in NFTs to keep them in vogue with the current trends to improve their market. Pizza Hut, Burger King, Taco Bell and McDonalds have released NFTs in their marketing campaigns. Beverage industries have also joined in the production of NFTs to market their products and companies such as Glenfiddich, Hennessy, Budlight and Dictador are using NFTs to market their products.
Wendy’s worked with Meta to debut the Wendyverse in April 2022. The Wendyverse is just the sort of move fans have come to expect from the brand. At the Wendyverse Town Square Central, visitors can order up their virtual fries and in the Wendyverse Partnership Plaza they can play games with a Special Wendy’s twist. Anyone with Meta Quest 2 VR system will be able to head over to the Wendyverse to satiate their digital appetite.
Chipotle launched a virtual restaurant in the metaverse using the platform Roblox. Users received codes for free burritos in Chipotle’s virtual locations which could be redeemed in physical restaurants.
McDonald’s ventured into the metaverse through VR platforms Altspace VR and Spatial. McDonald’s also filed trademarks for a “virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods” and “ operating a virtual restaurant featuring home delivery”. McDonald’s also has the Mc Delivery feature wherein customers can place orders in the metaverse and deliveries would be made accordingly to the location in the real world.
Burger King first released Keep It Real Meals in Sept 2021 and as a result of the promotion the quick service restaurant attached QR codes to the happy meals. By scanning these codes the user received digital artifacts and NFT rewards.
One of the world’s oldest and most consistent brands in the F&B industry, Coca Cola, decided to step into metaverse and they did so in style. In 2021, Coca Cola made its debut through Decentraland and auctioned off a collection of NFTs. Along with this, there was the Coca Cola friendship box, a spinoff of the company’s precious NFT vending machines.
Nestle Munch provided users with a one- of-a kind experience –they united fans & cricketers in the one of a kind meet and greet in the metaverse. Consumers who won a chance to go to the meet and greet were then invited to the metaverse to interact with players from the franchisees partnered with. PepsiCo is also not behind. Pepsi’s first ever ‘Pepsi Black Zero Sugar’ and ‘Pepsi Mic Drop’ NFTs made a mark in metaverse and were creative steps towards the evolving space.
Cheetos whose parent company is PepsiCo launched Chesterville where fans can check out various challenges in Chesterville which is like an open world inspired by suburban neighbourhoods during Halloween for the chance to vote to resurrect a Cheetos flavor of the past and bring it back to life in the real world for a limited time.
Other players include Panera Bread and Pizza Dao. Panera Bread has applied for trademarks for its restaurant in the metaverse whereas Pizza Dao which has Rare Pizzas has a range of about 10,000 baked pizza NFTs made in collaboration with 300 artists.
To limitless possibilities
With the advent of metaverse there is no limit to how far one can go to replicate the dining experience in the virtual realm. Things can get hugely simplified, pretty much everything we do inside a restaurant can be inacted in the metaverse. It is a union of convenience and experience without having to even leave the houses. Considering the many benefits that metaverse brings to the table, F&B industry should keep an eye on latest trends and the space to know when it is the right time to invest in such technologies.