Nowadays the virtual world is full of advertising. Companies exploited this sector from the start but its effect is beginning to wear off. Ever since Second Life was launched by Linden Labs, initially as a game, it has come into several major companies’ attention. Due to its quick development and huge interest from the public (it has more than one million users) Second Life became more than a game and it’s now considered a business (the world has a virtual currency that can be exchanged for US-Dollars) There are daily transactions that easily reach up to 500.000 $ a day and they growth rate is huge.
Companies like Adidas, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Nissan and Sony BMG have already set up stores in the virtual world in which they are selling similar products as in real life. The question that arises is “Can Second Life be considered as a separate market and should the companies use different brand strategies?” Judging by the fact that Second Life characters are in fact virtual representations of real persons we might consider them to be one and the same with the real life consumer. Although I have reasons to belive that the consumer can be different because he can hide behind an alias and can have a different personality inside the game. This way he can choose to buy items that in real life he would have never considered just because of the social risc. For example in Second Life I could easily get a tatoo on my arm but in real life this could be a very difficult decision. I could join a punk-rock group and wear raggs and trashy clothes but I would never do that in real life because of my job and the social risc. Does this make different in Second Life than in reality? Is it just me or everybody else who uses the game? I think the answers to those questions have already been analyzed by the companies mentioned above. Otherwise why would they struggle to win more ground in a virtual world … Publicity, Advertising, Viral Communication could be some replacement reasons but I think that the real one is that every single brand owner that has “joined the club” considered Second Life as a new market with a much bigger potential than the real one. This explains why these companies show a great interest in capitalizing on their brand equity by using Second Life as their newest playground.
The question is are you ready for Second Life?