The building itself appears to be made out of petals, and visitors can navigate the space by having their avatar ‘ride’ a floating petal between floors. They can also personalise their avatar’s appearance and clothing.
Bryony Cole, Lovehoney’s global sextech expert, said the metaverse lends itself to such creative self-expression.
“What I think is really cool about the metaverse is that you can be quite fantastical in terms of how you present yourself,” she told Inside Retail.
“You can have a building made out of petals. It can be really fun, playful, accessible and empowering.”
While a growing number of fashion and accessories brands, from Nike to Gucci to Casetify, have been opening stores in the metaverse recently, Lovehoney claims to be the first sexual wellness retailer to do so.
“The metaverse is so new, this is really just experimental,” Cole said. “The idea is to find out what the capabilities are, get everyone’s feedback and try out some of the innovations in this space.”
On the forefront of new tech
The sexual wellness industry has a long history of embracing new technologies and experiences.
“So much technology has actually been driven by sex tech, whether it’s payment processes, live streaming, or actually the internet,” Cole said. “It’s always the sexuality space, or gaming, that will be first movers.”
One of the reasons for this is the stigma that still surrounds the industry. Traditionally, stores selling sex toys were seedy places that many people didn’t want to be seen entering or exiting.
The rise of e-commerce changed that, with businesses like Lovehoney enabling people to browse and purchase products in the privacy of their own home.
“Sex does need a rebrand, and I think Lovehoney has been doing a really good job of that,” Cole said.
The metaverse takes this one step further by making the online shopping journey more immersive and experiential.
“The metaverse is taking the education, entertainment and experiential elements that we get in person and putting it into a virtual world, which is really powerful,” she said.
“It takes the most interesting elements of the in-store experience and the virtual world, which is very flat at the moment, and brings it to life in a really engaging way.”
Potential for product launches
While Lovehoney customers can browse products in the Decentraland pop-up, they currently can’t make purchases in the metaverse. Instead, they are redirected to Lovehoney’s e-commerce site to check out.
However, this will likely change if the retailer launches a permanent offering in future.
Beyond shopping, Coles believes that one of the biggest opportunities in the metaverse is for product launches.
“It’s quite an interesting way to think about launching products, where the product is in the virtual world, but also the physical one,” she said.
Given the types of products on display, visitors must be over 18 years old to visit the pop-up. Lovehoney has also created a security avatar, Betty the Bee, which informs visitors on how they can report inappropriate behaviour and block anyone who is making them feel uncomfortable.
The retailer, whose tagline is ‘the sexual happiness people’, said that consumer well-being and protection is its highest priority.