As expected (only not quite so soon) comes word from Electric Sheeper Giff Constable of Nissan’s entry into Second Life (Link). I’m liking the vehicle dispenser enough to give me a reason to post about this – very Smart car-like (and I’m a fan of the Smart if you recall – reLink). It’s also more in keeping with the possibilities inherent in using virtual worlds. Instead of just being about the car, it becomes more of an Experience. That last bit should sound familiar for at least a couple of reasons (reLink 1, reLink 2).
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get a password to claim a toy and play. I did, however, take note of who created the doppelganger vehicle sitting out on show… it wasn’t whom I thought it might be (anyone who followed my trademark debates on the old Second Life forum will know to whom I’m referring).
Its pretty interesting. Real life becomes virtual. But where is the money in this?
Personally, if i could ride a virtual nissan or any product for that matter, would I purchase it in real life? I dont know. Perhaps its top of mind advertising, but its a whole lot more difficult in real life when you have the 5 senses to deal with, and say toyota?
DT, ask yourself some questions:
Where is the money in television programming?
How did Wal*Mart become so big?
Where is the money in Google?
Why did they just pay $1.6B for YouTube – where is the money in that?
Wish I could, but I can’t easily answer your question. I have, however, discussed this sort of thing on here and on one post ( “Smiley Face Savvy” ) explain how one future economic model might work.
As for the senses, you are aware of developments in artificial sight and sound, yes? Even artificial touch, taste and smell are being developed with some success. Even more astounding was the very recent news that scientists have discovered the “memory molecule” in our brain. Imagine someone able to literally brainwash you.
Everything is converging, DT. That includes design; almost especially design.
Actually I do know the answers! But I wont go into that, as I feel thats not what we are discussing, and only risk sounding like a smart ass.
Yes I’m pretty aware of the artifical senses and the developments in that areas. I’m particularly impressed in the smell one.
I think though, my point is what is the reason for doing it. Bricks and mortar companies make money selling tangiable product. In terms of nissan, perhaps its top-of-mind advertising, but I’m implying its a lot more difficult to design a real product and by getting into second life does not make their tangiable products better than say toyota. So why? Long term marketing plan i suppose.
Perhaps I’m missing something?
But my point is that those questions and their answers are, in fact, what we’re discussing here, because it’s for those reasons that companies like Nissan are doing this. Practically speaking, yes, bricks and mortar companies make their money selling tangible product. But do they really?
If what they’re selling is practical transportation, then why doesn’t everyone drive a fuel-efficient vehicle particularly suited to their needs? Why do lone commuters drive SUVs that are never used to carry passengers and never go off-road? Why do people buy cars based on engine horsepower when most states have relatively low speed limits? Why do people choose one car over another based on something as irrelevant as color? None of those things is about the core purpose for purchasing a vehicle, yet they’re often the issues that determine which vehicle is chosen. That makes no obvious practical sense.
Are manufacturers selling transportation, or are they selling the promise of excitement and a thrilling experience? I consider it to be the latter. As an industrial designer I depend on the latter, since so much of product design is emotional. And more and more we’re finding that companies are beginning to recognize that Experience is really what they’re selling (I’d suggest seeing an earlier post on Starwood hotels and watch the video to which I link – reLink).
In a surplus environment, where basic needs are met and efficiency is not the primary motivator, then quality of experience becomes the dominant issue imo. That’s why we see advertising full of sexual innuendo and imagery. Axe isn’t selling something to keep guys from stinking, they’re selling the promise of getting laid. They don’t put their brand into a pokemon videogame, they buy into something that extends that idea: a videogame where the player is masculine and virile (reLink).
Consequently, to feed the purchase of tangible goods that are mostly overkill for solving the basic need for transportation, a huge chunk of the automobile business includes advertising that spurs sales of those unnecessary tangible goods. And much – not all – of that advertising is keyed to the experience mindset.
Now, the difference between a television ad for Nissan and a virtual Nissan vehicle is the difference between passive information transfer and active engagement. Which is more compelling: sitting in front of a television watching their ad waiting impatiently for it to end so the show will resume, or racing a Nissan supercar in a videogame? There’s no question . And that’s why this is the wave of the future and companies are looking for ways to understand it now; especially when more and more people simply TiVo past traditional advertising. Now, to be fair, Second Life doesn’t offer a great experience. Far from it. But it does make an excellent testing ground for companies looking to a future where those experiences will be compelling.
What Nissan has done here is just what can be done now with relative ease. What comes after will be far more compelling.
You’ve read the “Smily Face Savvy” post?
Thanks for taking the time to write this.
So pretty valid points you made and good talking to you.