The concept of disruption is an important one to business. If you can be constructively disruptive, or constructively navigate disruption occurring in the world, you change the game.
Take, for example, computers. One of the first computers developed was a device called ENIAC that could calculate in 30 seconds what would take a human 20 hours to solve. ENIAC could solve one equation at a time and required a team of scientists and engineers to support its function. It also took up 1,800 square feet and consumed enough power while in use at the University of Pennsylvania that rumor had it the lights of Philadelphia would dim when it was turned on. At the time, scientists and IT leaders predicted that global demand for computers would one day reach as many as a whopping five machines like the ENIAC.
Seventy years later, I have a computer in my pocket, one on my wrist, and several others at work and at home that I can carry with me wherever I go. All this because relentless innovators saw the potential to continually disrupt the development of computing devices, making them smaller, faster, more efficient. Ultimately, their curiosity and passion created a market for something that some had insisted would never exist: personal computers. In a matter of decades, the concept of everyday people owning computers evolved from one of novelty to one of necessity.
From novelty to necessity – that’s clearly the journey we are on with extended reality (XR) experiences. The concept of virtual reality is more than 70 years old – starting on screens, and moving to complicated, cumbersome, prohibitively expensive rigging that has since evolved into lighter, more affordable wearable tech. Today, virtual experiences that could previously only be had in a lab setting are available to us on our mobile and desktop devices, and via a growing variety of advanced, lightweight wearables. Additionally, creating content has become easier and more democratized, empowering more people to develop unique experiences that are available to a growing number of people worldwide.
That growth has only been accelerated in the past two years by the tremendous changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a physical distance that could often only be closed in digital spaces. Today, experts in extended reality (XR) predict that in as little as five years, use of the metaverse will become mainstream. At P&G, we intend to be on the leading edge of metaverse innovation.
Why? Because the possibilities when it comes to meeting our consumers’ needs and wants are remarkable. Those needs and wants haven’t changed: People still expect superior experiences that are increasingly more engaging, relevant, and entertaining. It’s the platforms that we use to meet these needs and wants that are changing. The metaverse enables us to deliver those experiences, often with storytelling that is richer and that delves deeper than anything we can achieve in the physical world. It also strips the restrictions of time, space and physical location away from the experiences we’re able to offer, meaning we can reach even more consumers, and deliver these experiences anywhere in the world.
In 2020, spurred by the changes brought on by the global pandemic, we accelerated our work to create virtual consumer experiences, and launched the P&G LifeLab, an immersive hub where consumers could learn about P&G and interact with people and products from some of our most iconic brands. The P&G LifeLab’s official debut came at CES 2021, offering visitors an experience that captured the critical elements of a live event (direct conversations with P&G people about the products on display, an exhibit-style feel, an auditorium with livestreamed discussions and presentations), while also providing deeper content and showcasing displays that wouldn’t be possible in a physical space.
Since then, we have launched SK-II City, a virtual environment that honored the culture and traditions of Japan, while also showcasing one of our premium Asian brands during the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the Charmin Forestry Experience, which took visitors on a journey through Charmin’s sustainability commitments during Earth Week 2021. The P&G LifeLab also returned to CES 2022 with an all-new set of virtual experiences, including two unique virtual games, as well as a portal to a standalone virtual world called the BeautySphere, developed by P&G Beauty.
Our Company and brands are committed to humbly using these activations to experiment and learn in the metaverse. We want to be the first consumer goods company in this space that brings value to our consumers and the customers we serve. We will use XR capabilities to discover ways to engage with new consumers, develop new connections with existing consumers, and enhance and amplify physical experiences. It is exciting to truly be able to put an experience in the hands of the consumer – to explore and discover on their own and to have even more deeply personalized experiences with our brands, products and initiatives in a way that drives value for them.
We are also excited to be able to attract new talent to help create these metaverse experiences, especially when it comes to recruiting women, minorities and people with disabilities to help us better reach all consumers that have often been underserved by content and experiences on more traditional platforms.
And, just as exciting is the prospect of delivering a new slate of experiences to even more people around the world more often and in more sustainable ways: reducing the environmental impacts of travel and transportation, materials, waste creation, and energy consumption and helping us further deliver on our promise to care for our planet – our home.
So, what does the future hold? I believe that only we ourselves can limit what’s possible in the metaverse. We are committed to embracing creativity and curiosity and to continuing to constructively disrupt our brand-building and innovation efforts to engage with consumers, understand what matters to them, and consistently raise the bar on their experiences with our brands.