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During Pride, brands see metaverse as opportunity to gain traction with LGBT+ consumers

The news: Advertisers and platforms alike are attempting to leverage Pride Month to reach LGBT+ consumers in a new venue: the metaverse.

Pride on parade: Metaverse platform Decentraland kicked off its Pride Month celebration last Friday featuring a party containing unicorns and carnival floats, talks, and giveaways. Participants could also grab a virtual paint bucket to make colorful displays of their own.

  • Mastercard has a Pride Plaza location as part of Decentraland’s Pride event, which will include panels with LGBT+ thought leaders and exhibit NFT wearables developed by LGBT+ artists. As part of the activation, participants will also be able to write messages of support to their younger selves.

Sandbox for experimentation: L’Oreal’s NYX Cosmetics is launching a campaign on metaverse platform The Sandbox, partnering with People of Crypto Lab's (POC) Valley of Belonging, a virtual location launching on June 24.

  • It will be the first cosmetics brand to join The Sandbox, with a campaign emphasizing that makeup need not be tied to gender.

MS in the MV: Microsoft’s “Pride has No Borders" June 17 metaverse event will feature activists from Microsoft, Team Xbox, and LGBT+ rights organizations discussing Pride history and bringing about collective change.

  • The event will be accessible via AltSpaceVRWindows Mixed Reality headsets, HTC Vive, among others, and will also be viewable as a YouTube livestream.

Zoom out: Whatever is possible in the physical world is now being recreated in immersive environments, thanks to augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). It's no wonder, therefore, that Pride Month, a commemoration of the Stonewall riots in 1969, is now being observed in multiple metaverse locations as well.

  • One in five Gen Z consumers now consider themselves to be LGBT+, per Gallup.

Metaverse equity: In announcing its celebration, Decentraland cited the diversity among its user base. This should come as no surprise, given that marginalized groups appear to be more drawn to immersive experiences that could be more equitable than the “real world” has been.

  • A December 2021 study by Virtue Worldwide and The Dematerialised found that 40% of respondents think the metaverse will be more equitable to people who are in the LGBTQIA+ community, compared with just 12% who responded less equitable. The results for nonbinary people are positive as well.

Analyst insight: “The metaverse can turn into an intolerant space just as in the physical world, if not more so,” says senior analyst Jingqiu Ren. “The recent report of a female researcher’s avatar being abused in the metaverse should remind companies to advocate for better virtual community standards and protection. Failure to protect their LGBT+ consumers attending virtual events despite the initial good intentions may still land brands in hot waters.”

The big takeaway: With over 70 countries still criminalizing LGBT+ status, members of this community are more likely to be able to be true to their authentic selves in the metaverse.

  • With some estimates that one in four internet users will spend at least an hour in the metaverse by 2026, it stands to reason that brands and platforms keen to expand in this space will try to curry favor with the growing LGBT+ community before their competitors do.