Back in 2007, tech mavens and pioneers foretold that the virtual world that consumers, firms, and brands could finally experience through the Web would soon turn into a futuristic “all-encompassing digital playground where people will be immersed in an always-on flood of digital information, whether wandering through physical spaces or diving into” (Kim 2021, p. 141). Today, this envisioned “digital playground” is no longer simply a prediction, but an actual reality: the metaverse is here!
A massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time-rendered 3D virtual worlds where people can synchronously and persistently socialize, share, and cocreate unique experiences (Hollensen, Kotler, and Opresnik 2022), the metaverse has already grasped enormous interest and capital investments all over the world, generating an industry that is expected to reach $678.8 billion by 2030 (Grand View Research Inc. 2022).
Encompassing and supported by technological components like artificial intelligence, the blockchain, and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality—which have already proved capable of massively affecting and reconfiguring brands and brand-related constructs (Puntoni et al. 2021)—the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize branding strategies and brand management as we know them today. As a matter of fact, global leader brands like Nike, Dolce & Gabbana, Nvidia, Hyundai, and Coca-Cola have already begun to experiment in the metaverse by, for example, minting nonfungible tokens (NFTs), setting up immersive Roblox-based showrooms, and creating digital realms to extend remote working.
Scholars have started to conceptualize and define the metaverse and understand how it can transform marketing and business activities. In addition, they have also proposed a research agenda for marketing and brand scholars related to intelligence (hyperdata availability), innovation (virtualization and hypergathering), communication (hyperconnectedness), experience (virtual and physical blending), consumer behavior (identity “reembodiment”), and policy formulation (ownership, privacy and societal challenges). Accordingly, the role of brands in the metaverse and the effects and implications that branding can exert in this novel context are still to be determined. With the overarching goal of exploring this terra incognita, and to contribute to the further development of the brand management discipline, this call for papers aspires to promote and attract the best work on the topic to provide answers to the following urgent research questions.
- How and to what extent can traditional theoretical lenses and approaches usually adopted to investigate brand-related phenomena (e.g., social identity theory, service dominant logic, actor–network theory, consumer culture theory, signaling theory) be adapted to make sense of branding in the immersive context of the metaverse?
- From the perspective of the metaverse as a new medium, what aspects of branding and brand engagements will be enhanced or will be at risk? Why and how?
- Which innovative methodological designs and analytical protocols are best suited to measure brand performances in the innovative context of the metaverse? Are traditional brand metrics still effective, or are new brand-related metrics needed to meet the unique features of the metaverse?
- How does the metaverse influence or challenge the current debate in understanding online brand communities and brand co-creation (Hsieh and Chang 2016)?
- How does brand management practice evolve in the metaverse? How does it affect brand equity?
- What are the innovative brand stimuli that organizations can deploy in the metaverse? What are the drivers of key brand-related outcomes, such as consumer–brand engagement, brand experience, brand trust, brand commitment, and positive and negative consumer–brand relationships in the metaverse?
- What are the types and formats of brand presence available in the metaverse? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types and formats of brand presence in the metaverse in terms of consumers’ cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses?
- How will digital customer engagement initiatives change in the metaverse? What will be the role of textual and visual brand-generated content in fostering purchases, choices, and forms of brand loyalty, such as repurchase and word of mouth, within the metaverse compared with the nonmetaverse online channels?
- How will omnichannel brand experiences change in face of the interoperability between the metaverse and the real world?
- How will novel digital assets like NFTs change the brand value chain? How will they affect consumer-brand relationships?
- What are the cross-cultural aspects of metaverse advertising and marketing?
- What are the ethical, privacy, and security issues faced when conducting branding and advertising activities in the metaverse?
We invite original empirical research using experimental, secondary data etc. and in-depth conceptual papers addressing the above questions and challenges.
Manuscript submission: April 15, 2023 through January 15, 2024
During the Global Brand Conference on Branding in the Metaverse (May 3–5, 2023) that takes place in Bergamo, Italy, more than 80 papers focused on branding in the metaverse will be discussed and addressed to the aforementioned research questions. This will be an opportunity to share, debate, and improve the impacts of the research with the most engaged brand scholars on the topic. However, presenting at the conference is not a requirement to submit a manuscript to the special issue.
Planned publication: May 2025
All the submissions will receive double-anonymized peer review by prominent scholars and must be submitted via the journal’s ScholarOne site. Author guidelines can be found here. If you need specific information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the other special issue editors.
Special Issue Editors
Vanitha Swaminathan is Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh and the Director of the Katz Center for Branding at Pitt Business. Professor Swaminathan has published extensively in various leading marketing and management journals and currently serving as a Coeditor of Journal of Marketing and on the Board of Directors of the American Marketing Association.
Daniela Andreini is Professor of Marketing and Prorector for Innovation and Digitalization at the University of Bergamo (Italy). She is a member of the scientific committee of the Academy of Marketing’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest Group. She is on the editorial boards of leading brand journals.
Joana César Machado is Associate Dean for Global Education at Católica Porto Business School, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in Porto. She is chair of the scientific committee of the Academy of Marketing’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest Group. She is on the editorial boards of leading brand journals.
Stuart Roper is Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean of Research Innovation and Knowledge Exchange at Huddersfield Business School and Member of the Behavioural Research Centre. He is a member of the scientific committee of the Academy of Marketing’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest Group. His works have appeared in leading brand journals.
Zoe Lee is Associate Professor in Marketing and Program Director for MSc Strategic Marketing at Cardiff Business School at Cardiff University. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Academy of Marketing’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest Group. She is on the editorial board of leading brand journals.
Grand View Research Inc. (2022), “Metaverse Market Size Worth $678.8 Billion by 2030: Grand View Research, Inc.,” Bloomberg (March 9), https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2022-03-09/metaverse-market-size-worth-678-8-billion-by-2030-grand-view-research-inc.
Hsieh, Sara H. and Aihwa Chang (2016), “The Psychological Mechanism of Brand Co-Creation Engagement,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, 33 (1), 13–26.
Hollensen, Svend, Philip Kotler, and Marc Oliver Opresnik (2022), “Metaverse – The New Marketing Universe,” Journal of Business Strategy (published online March 17), https://doi.org/10.1108/JBS-01-2022-0014.
Kim, Jooyoung (2021), “Advertising in the Metaverse: Research Agenda,” Journal of Interactive Advertising, 21 (3), 141–44.
Puntoni, Stefano, Rebecca Walker Reczek, Markus Giesler, and Simona Botti (2021), “Consumers and Artificial Intelligence: An Experiential Perspective,” Journal of Marketing, 85 (1), 131–51.
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