You already know that virtual influencers are moving into the mainstream. This year saw Lil Miquela, the best-known among Instagram’s virtual influencers, star alongside supermodel Bela Hadid in a (cringe-inducing) campaign for Calvin Klein.

Meanwhile, virtual avatars are making noise elsewhere. The Chinese state news agency, Xinhau, have launched their second virtual news anchor. And the newest member of the YouPorn’s legendary marketing team is a virtual character called Jedy Vales. Just another slice of digital ephemera? Perhaps, but a crucial shift informs these three examples.

The media landscape continues to fragment. Digital channels multiply. One opportunity? In 2020, consumers will pay deeper attention to brands who embody themselves via new virtual characters and avatars, allowing them to inhabit digital channels in richer, more immersive and more human ways.

Deep underlying forces are fueling the rise of BRAND AVATARS.

First, a multiplicity of digital channels – TikTok! Fortnite! Alexa! In-store touchscreens! – means new expectations when it comes to the democratized conversation between brands and consumers.

Second, consumers are already becoming accustomed to meaningful relationships with AI-fueled entities. Relationships that go way beyond Alexa, order me some washing powder, and that encompass wellbeing, creativity, and even the human need for companionship. Now Amazon are working on a wearable that will understand and respond to the emotions of the user. The rise of these VIRTUAL COMPANIONS is priming consumers to expect branded virtual entities that connect to them on a deeper level.

So, ready to code your BRAND AVATAR to life in 2020? First, check out how others are doing just that.



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