Retail in Asia


Decrypting the Metaverse: Chapter I – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with ZEPETO

The metaverse has been a buzzword in 2021. It took the (retail) world by storm. While some luxury and lifestyle brands have been pioneering the metaverse, others still wonder whether or not to jump on the bandwagon. Retail in Asia is launching a series of articles to decrypt the metaverse to shed some light on and assess the new opportunities it may or may not present. To kick-start the series, we have an exclusive interview with the 3D avatar platform ZEPETO.

SEE ALSO: Exploring the Metaverse in China

Part of the South Korean internet conglomerate Naver Group, ZEPETO, is Asia’s biggest metaverse platform. Launched just four years ago, it now has over 290 million users. ZEPETO has users around the world, but particularly among teenage females and early twenty-somethings in South Korea and China.

The platform has collaborated with lifestyle and luxury brands such as Dior and NARS in beauty and Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Zara in fashion on virtual items, allowing these brands to connect with the next generation of consumers.

Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Rudy Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at Naver Z (ZEPETO). Together we discussed the platform’s purpose, its expansion, as well as partnerships with brands and celebrities.

Rudy Lee’s Avatar (Source: ZEPETO) 

RiA: The metaverse might be an abstract concept for some of our readers. Can you explain what ZEPETO is and why it is a relevant platform for retailers and brands?

Rudy: ZEPETO is a metaverse providing the next generation with freedom of identity in the virtual space. It is most popular among Generation Z, who express themselves while meeting, collaborating, and creating with others.

The entertainment and fashion industry leaders have partnered with us to reach the next generation who socialise, entertain, and consume content on ZEPETO.

RiA: Can you tell us about your user base: their demographics, their motivations to be part of virtual entertainment and how you entice them to join this platform?

Rudy: ZEPETO has over 290 million lifetime users. Our most significant user base consists of females in the 13 to 24 age range.

On ZEPETO, our users are attracted to the customization of avatars. From the shape and color of your hair and body to the type of virtual outfits.
Users are also free to be creative on ZEPETO. We have an immense library of 3D assets of not just virtual items but also trendy dance moves and different virtual worlds to explore. Users can be whomever they want to be.

RiA: From the creative brief to the launch in the virtual world: how do you collaborate with brands?

Rudy: We’ve seen increased inbound inquiries from brands that want a presence in the metaverse. We first see if the brands align with our users and their interests.

Each collaboration varies from brand to brand. We see fashion brands creating teams dedicated to metaverse collaborations out of their digital experiences team. We also see digital marketing or even event marketing teams overseeing metaverse projects. With fashion brands, metaverse-related decision-making often goes to the top, so Chief Digital Officers and Chief Marketing Officers are involved.

RiA: You have worked with luxury and fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Zara. Can you tell us more about these collaborations?

Rudy: Forward-thinking brands are constantly looking for emerging arenas to interact to push the boundaries and connect with the next generation of consumers. Fashion brands like Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and celebrities like BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez can create enhanced digital experiences on ZEPETO-creating maps of shops, music video sets, or launching a new fashion collection in the app. They can also gather data on consumer spending to continue improving their digital experiences and even create another revenue stream.

Ralph Lauren’s Chief Digital Officer, Alice Delahunt, stated, “Making our product available to purchase and wear digitally and allowing consumers to experience the brand in immersive new ways is the next frontier.”

RiA: You have also partnered with beauty brands such as NARS and Dior Beauté. Is it trickier to work with beauty brands? How do you recreate the tactile and sensorial experience specific to the beauty industry?

Rudy: It was great working with both beauty brands, Dior and NARS. The Dior partnership was unique because we worked with Dior Makeup’s Creative & Image Director, Peter Philips to create nine specific iconic makeup looks. NARS launched several virtual-only fashion items like crop tops, t-shirts, and mini bags. Regarding sensory experience, we recently worked with Gucci Beauty to launch their perfume in the metaverse.

Source: ZEPETO

RiA: Like most virtual entertainment platforms, ZEPETO relies on item sales to monetize. How many virtual items have you sold since ZEPETO’s inception? What are the bestselling items?

Rudy: There have been over 100 million virtual items sold. Some of the best-selling items are fashion items like dresses and hairstyles. We believe this is due to our core user-base on ZEPETO-young females.

RiA: Can you elaborate on newly launched plugin powered by Unity, the platform that enables creators to develop 2D and 3D content for mobile phones, PCs or virtual reality devices. How will it enhance ZEPETO’s experience?

Rudy: The ZEPETO Game Plugin is built with developers in mind. The new game plugin allows developers to make games on the ZEPETO platform. Anyone with minimal experience in Unity game development can use this plugin to create their games and use ZEPETO avatars and worlds.

SEE ALSO: Luxury brands find future with ‘metaverse’

We are committed to building an ecosystem where users are incentivized to make great content, and we as a platform are motivated to provide them with the best possible tools. We are amazed by the enormous amount of creativity we see from our ZEPETO Studio, and ZEPETO Build It! creators every day. We are hopeful that the ZEPETO Game Plugin will be yet another avenue for them to be even more inventive.