Thursday, June 15, 2006

RL products vs SL products

Lately in SL blogs and discussions, I've heard a lot about real life businesses coming to SL to sell their wares. Aimee Weber has designed a SL store for American Apparel that sparked an interesting discussion on the forums. Ordinal Malaprop said that rl companies would be "handicapped by their preconceptions" and I think that states the case beautifully.

For example, I make wings in SL. This is not a real life product. Unless they get really good at genetic engineering, it never will be.

This isn't a new discussion - I've been hearing about this since I joined in 2004. "What if Hot Topic had a store and you could buy a SL Hot Topic shirt and then they'd also send you a RL Hot Topic shirt?"

First, the skinny ass avatar's clothing might not fit the RL counterpart. For example, I'm a tall female av in SL. Why? Because I'm short in RL damnit. I wanted to tower over men and be able to reach the tall kitchen shelves. Well, if I had a SL kitchen I guess. I suppose that's a barrier that could be overcome . . . but would it be worth it?

And that's the real question, is there any money for RL companies selling SL stuff? Probably not. Sure, there are a few land barons making BIG money. But content creators that make good money are not cashing out to the tune of an amount of cash that would interest a big company. If they make a decent yearly salary, that's really not enough for a company to imagine hiring a work force and paying them to create content. Time is money.

On the other hand . . . I think that there is a possibility for RL companies to promote their brand in SL. And actually, I think the American Apparel store is one of the best examples I've seen of it yet. They'll get people to come to the store because it's unique to have a RL company in SL and people will go visit their website and maybe buy stuff.

But then when Gap comes along and tries the same thing . . . that promotion will be stale and no one will be interested.

And that's the problem, these companies have to continue to think unique. And most RL companies aren't terribly good at doing that. Go read Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. The whole book is about how these days you really have to be unique so the early adapters notice you and then promote your brand. That's the key to having a RL or SL Starbucks-like phenomenon.

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