Last night I walked around a farmers market. I spent about an hour walking from stand to stand, having conversations, and learning about new CPG products. Someone even offered me free candy. It was a blast!
And all of it happened in the metaverse. I attended a virtual pop-up farmers market put on by an organization called The Metamarket. The event featured over a dozen different CPG brands, each of which had a virtual exhibit stand in a virtual 2D Sims-like world that allowed me to interact with both the products and the people.
The platform The Metamarket used for the event is Gather, a virtual world / metaverse startup that started during the pandemic and has since raised $ 76 million in funding. Gather has some interesting features, including one called ‘proximity chatting’ in which a video pop window emerges for chats with people in the space (see below), making it a nice mashup of video game meets professional networking tool.
Each booth had someone from the company hanging around and chatting with anyone who stopped by. Most of the booths had lots of activity, whether it was company representatives describing the product or people checking out the interactive objects embedded in each booth. Interacting with the objects and maneuvering around the space using the same familiar keyboard controls you’d use in any 2D open-world video game. The elements often included a unique discount code for a product, a link to a website, or a sign-up sheet for a newsletter. Commerce was made possible by links at the various booths to a special shopify website that allowed me to purchase products.
Below is a short video clip of me walking around the market and interacting with different elements.
Each company representative I chatted with told me that this was the first time they’d tried out a metaverse farmer’s market activation.
“This is this is the first one,” said Gina Shi, founder of mushroom-based jerky company Munchrooms. “I kind of like came in without really any expectations and kind of just like see what’s possible.”
Kasey Stewart, the CEO and cofounder of candy company Suckerz, said he’d been interested in web3 and has invested in NFTs, but this was the first time his company had participated in a virtual farmers market.
“I see this as the future of where people will shop,” Stewart told me. (Stewart offered to send me free candy as one of the first ten people in this booth. I happily accepted his offer).
The Metamarket organization is a collaboration between CPGD, a CPG curation and community platform, and Parade, a CPG commerce software startup. Last night’s event, which was the second farmer’s market put on by Metamarket, included 16 CPG brands, the bulk of which were food and beverage startups.
While it’s too soon to say if this is the future of CPG commerce or farmers markets, I was pleasantly surprised by how fun and easy it was to navigate around, find out about new products, and talk to the people behind those products. Sure, the Sims-style virtual world of Gather isn’t exactly the type of 3D virtual world you often hear about when folks like Zuck talk about the metaverse, but I found the simplicity of the experience to be much more approachable and less effort than what I imagine it would be like navigating a VR-centric shopping experience.
If you want to attend the next Metamarket, you can sign up here. I’ll probably see you there.