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Restaurants in the Metaverse: A New Strategy for Brand Loyalty

Here's a new strategy for brand loyalty and more. The metaverse has become the latest tool for restaurants to rebuild their customer base and create new experiences for diners.
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The restaurant industry was one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the loss of over 100,000 restaurants. In tumultuous and uncertain times, industries look to the past to determine what comes next and how it needs to evolve and modernize to survive. Over a decade ago, when the housing market crashed and a recession followed, the food truck wave boomed and fast casual restaurants elevated. Today, as businesses and corporations prioritize remote work and virtual learning, the metaverse has become the latest tool for restaurants to rebuild their customer base and create new experiences for diners.

In recent months, Wendy's has opened its first VR restaurant and Tim Hortons, McDonald's Chipotle have all entered the metaverse to solve supply chain problems, launch new menu items and open new locations, fully aware that more and more of their potential customers are participating in the metaverse one way or another. Whether it’s buying virtual real estate, attending concerts or socializing with friends, the metaverse is an innovative, unique space available to everyone and one strategy restaurants should continue to utilize as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a distant memory.

Branding and Familiarity – The First Steps Taken in the Metaverse

Restaurants are looking to rebuild the brand awareness and loyalty that might have been lost in the pandemic and the metaverse will increase brand loyalty like never before. Branding is all about occupying time in consumers’ minds. If a restaurant occupies time in the metaverse, it’s being seen which, in turn, increases brand awareness. The only thing that consumers experience in the metaverse is what is seen.

Recently, Chipotle launched the Chipotle Burrito Builder on gaming platform Roblox, allowing players to earn Burrito Bucks by rolling burritos. This marked the first time “a brand has let Roblox players earn in-game currency that can be exchanged for real-world items.” Chipotle, an already widely-recognized fast casual chain, merged virtual and real-world elements to heighten its visibility to consumers and enhance the overall customer experience.

Fast food and fast casual restaurants exist because consumers enjoy the familiarity of the food served. The metaverse is becoming more user-friendly when restaurants and brands insert themselves. Users are seeing things they recognize, and it reinforces the brand concept. The more restaurants enter into the metaverse, the more recognized they become and further strengthening a customer’s loyalty to a brand. 

The Virtual Restaurant Experience 

The metaverse is adding an immersive layer to the customer experience that hasn’t been attainable in the physical world. Restaurants can offer coupons or special deals that can only be available in the metaverse.

In August, McDonald’s filed patents hinting at potential virtual restaurants. Additionally, its been reported that McDonald’s will sell branded clothing for avatars to wear and virtual furnishings for an avatar’s virtual home. Not only that but McDonald’s also expects customers to virtually meet up and order actual food to their homes.

As other restaurants continue to carve out their place in this virtual world, it is crucial for restaurants to bring their ideas into the digital world while also taking the fun elements from the digital world into reality. Just as people experience the world by traveling to different countries, consumers will experience the different facets a restaurant can offer, both virtually and in the real world. Whether it’s consuming a virtual burger or one at the McDonald’s location down the street, a customer is still experiencing that restaurant in a unique and stimulating way. It’s part of immersion and will result in increased awareness, loyalty and excitement.

Experimentation – The Industry’s New Mantra

If technology innovations and the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it's to experiment and adapt quickly. The industry is constantly evolving, and restaurants need to have a presence in the metaverse to start exploring opportunities to stay relevant and building brand equity, building links with the next level in guest experience. Yes, many parts are still unknown, but the signal from the industry is clear. The metaverse is here to stay and people will spend time in it. It can be an extension of the physical presence but, it will, once more, change the way we buy and experience restaurants.


About the Author

Bob Vergidis serves as the chief visionary officer of and sits on the advisory board of the Interactive Customer Experience Association. He developed one of the first food mobile ordering solutions in 2000 and one of the first cloud point of sale systems. With his mobile ordering solution, Vergidis has assisted several restaurants and retail businesses adopt leading-edge technology to move their companies forward.

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