“The market has not yet valued the metaverse”

The second part of the interview with Swetha Ramachandran to read.

You can find the first part of the interview here.

private banking magazine: Do you have your own NFT?

Swetha Ramachandran: I bought an NFT. But just so I know what I’m talking about.

And have you already sold it?

No, it’s still in my wallet.

Is it a bored monkey?

Ramachandran: No, it’s not a fancy NFT. It comes from a company called The Dematerialised, where you can buy an NFT with fiat currency instead of cryptocurrency.

If, as was the case with Gucci, a virtual bag sells for more than the real physical bag, what about consumer behavior?

Ramachandran: At the moment, we are in uncharted territory. As you mentioned, the Gucci bag sold on Roblox last year was more expensive than the physical version. And that was just a purely digital version. It wasn’t even an NFT because you couldn’t take it out of the Roblox ecosystem. This suggests that young consumers are increasingly indifferent to these artificial distinctions between physical and virtual. They spend a lot more time online, a lot more time playing games than older generations. This shows that the future is quite bright for this industry to develop NFTs to attract and cultivate this new generation of consumers.

Is the Metaverse and NFT phenomenon already baked into stocks, or is it, say, a second world that will really be a game-changer for some stocks?

Ramachandran: I would say that we are still at a very early stage. This is why the market has not predicted that these companies will be able to leverage the metaverse successfully. Because the luxury industry tends to be quite conservative. These companies have been around for 150 to 200 years. They don’t want to abruptly disrupt their business models overnight. What they do, they do slowly. And I think it will take time for the market to realize that.

Which companies are currently well positioned in the NFT market?

Ramachandran: It would be easier for me to name the companies that are not yet present. After all, everyone is trying to get into this field. However, some companies like Kering, owner of the Gucci and Balenciaga brands, are a bit more advanced. For example, you have a shadow board of millennials showing you the way forward. Another company that impressed me is Moncler. It’s a small company with one product, but it’s very innovative in how it approaches the metaverse.

Can a company like Ferrari open up new groups of buyers via NFTs or avatars?

Ramachandran: It’s certainly possible given how hard it is to get a Ferrari in real life. It must be just as hard to get virtually, but if you offer someone the chance to see a Testarossa in a paint job that no one else has, then you just might win that client. My question to Ferrari would be, would this dilute the appeal of the physical brand to the Ferrari collector? You will have to be very careful how you do it.

What role do influencers play in the luxury segment?

Ramachandran: A big. I think social media is much more important today than it was ten years ago. The role of influencers in popularizing brands and different categories really cannot be underestimated.

Who do you think are the best influencers?

Ramachandran: In Europe, Chiara Ferragni is a very popular influencer who has many followers. In the United States, I would say that the Kardashians are also very popular influencers. China is really an interesting market because the influencer economy is huge there. There is Mr. Bags who is a specialist in bags and handbags, Austin Li, Viya who are digital influencers focused on the makeup segment. They are all very influential.

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