Sasha Wallinger is the global head of Web3 and Metaverse at Journey. For more than a decade, Sasha has woven physical, digital, and virtual into luxury, premium, and pop culture ecosystems. Currently, Sasha translates opportunities with a focus on connecting heritage, fashion and luxury brands.
Sasha shared how there are different realities for building Web3 space. She mentioned Walmart’s activation on the Electric Fest contest that her company created to enter Walmart in the Roblox ecosystem. A lot of different teams and businesses are diving into the gaming and Metaverse ecosystem to build the realities with cohesion. According to Sasha, all the companies are thinking about different realities where they want to build so there are infinite realities to choose from.
Sasha mentioned that co-founder and chief Metaverse officer Cathy Hackl of Journey has written several books on the Metaverse. Before that, they used to think there was no proper definition of Metaverse but after reading her books, she thinks there’s a definition for Metaverse. She would define it as a process around evaluating the Metaverse that it’s formed of many different ecosystems where we all come together.
Talking about the broadness of the Metaverse, Sasha mentioned that she first entered the Metaverse through Blockchain. She encountered Blockchain and then learned how Blockchain could intersect with creativity, art, culture, and fashion. Through Blockchain, she saw the opportunity for brands to have a virtual identity and this was right at the point of the pandemic when a lot of brands didn't have an understanding of their Web2 presence. But now both businesses and consumers have understood the need of having a virtual presence. Metaverse has the potential to offer another way of inviting consumers into a brand's intimate ecosystem to feel exactly the way they feel in a physical shop. Sasha appreciated Burberry and Minecraft’s recent moment where there were virtual moments to have a runway in Minecraft but it also had a physical attribute of a collection, a physical product that consumers can take away with themselves to have a sense of inclusivity.
Talking about the Metaverse community, Sasha mentioned that Twitter and Discord are important for talking to people about Metaverse and NFT projects. She especially focused on Discord and stated Discord is a platform where the Metaverse community can be housed in. Communities like Discord are also more important when talking about avatars or the way somebody navigates their journey through the Metaverse as it's their tool of translation, their mark of selfhood, and the lens through which they're guided. Mentioning other Metaverse communities, she said there's beautiful artistry in Spatial and Decentraland, Minecraft and Roblox have different high-fidelity values and each Metaverse has its special attributes. So, it's really important to think about how your brand can connect with each community.
Sasha also raised an important point about human creativity and variability. She said she does not think currently there is any Metaverse platform that allows users to use the same avatar on multiple platforms. Every platform has a dedicated avatar but to induce people to consider Web3 as the future, there need to be features like using the same avatars on multiple platforms to have self-expression and the feeling of being valued.
Sasha also added that people these days want to look cool in real life but even cooler on Metaverse platforms, especially the younger generation gamers between 12 to 18. They are willing to spend their money on buying digital goods that stay in the Metaverse ecosystem. This is why brands and the fashion industry have decided to include Metaverse elements in their collections more often these days.
Apart from the fashion industry, Sasha thinks there’s a huge opportunity for healthcare in Metaverse. There's a lot of modeling that can occur in the sense of patient treatment, patient care directions to the caregivers, VR headsets to assist the patient care journey, etc. Furthermore, physical, virtual, gaming, immersive, and all kind of businesses are going to be benefitted from Web3 in the long run. Sasha also mentioned that her company is building the T-Rex ecosystem in New York, which is a compelling building that's going to be one of the first Web2 buildings and the sphere in Las Vegas which is going to be a whole new way to think about entertainment. Then there are various Metaverse gaming moments that they are working on along with bringing voice to the avatars so they can talk.
Sasha enlightens the importance of digital identity that people now are going to understand their rights regarding their data, unlike Web2 where companies control the data of individuals. According to her the position of Chief Marketing Officer in the future is going to become Chief Metaverse Officer because people are going to understand their data is not as safeguarded as they may have thought it would be so switching to Web3 will become their top priority. In Web3, there's an opportunity to choose to disclose the data. Users in Web3 can self-select the organization or the project they engage with to disclose their data. She said that people have become so used to everyone else owning their data that it's critical the way they think about the growth and the building of Web3.
Sasha is very positive about the future of Metaverse and Web3, Sasha stated that virtual avatars are going to be game changers because of how they represent brands, how they're the ambassador of those brands, and how they can be uniquely personalized by an organization. Also, it's really important for companies stepping into Web3 to understand how Web3 and the Metaverse fit into their omnichannel marketing. She also thinks that NFTs will play a major role in the future of Web3. Furthermore, Sasha believes empowering creative people to develop new tools as they become inclined towards exploring Web3 ecosystems is going to bring exciting changes in the Web3 space in the coming years. Sasha closed the discussion by stating that more women need to be involved in Web3 and Metaverse space to become a part of this evolution.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS (see clickable version on www.cmo-stories.com)
[00:35] Who is Sasha Wallinger?
[01:01] How many realities are there?
[02:59] What's your definition of metaverse?
[20:26] What are your thoughts on Digital Identity?
[27:13] Where do you want people to connect with you?