Opportunities exist for service providers like interior decorators to cash in, too. You could target your product or service at a specific niche, like restaurants, city planning — even farming. If you are a city planner, you could consult with players on road design for traffic efficiency. This is a common FAQ in the City Skylines game, and there are plenty of YouTube videos (e.g., this one with 154k views) dedicated to this problem.

Digital collectibles and status symbols: Capitalizing on the virtual goods economy goes beyond gaming. Virtual collectibles, for example, have started gaining traction in recent years as the “show-off” economy has increasingly moved online. Who could forget CryptoKitties, which has sold $40m worth of digital cats since 2017 (with some individual kitties selling for more than $300k per piece)?

Artists from more than 170 countries have made $772k selling their digital art collectibles on platforms such as SuperRare, which uses blockchain technology to create and sell unique, transferrable, digital one-offs.

The opportunity: You could create and sell one-off virtual collectibles based on your products. Fanaply, for example, creates digital products for music, sports, and entertainment, including virtual, limited-edition merchandise to replace band t-shirts and the like. Fanaply is a “social flexing” platform — a way for fans to demonstrate their dedication and be rewarded (e.g., fans who own a digital collectible can receive news about secret shows).

You could also use digital collectibles as a marketing tool. Think about what Tazos did for Frito-Lay potato chips in the ‘90s. Tazos were trading card-like plastic collectible disks that transformed school lunchtimes in South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They were distributed in potato chip packets and quickly became the must-have “membership card for coolness.”

The strategy resulted in a 50% growth in sales for Frito-Lay. In some countries it boosted sales by as much as 200%. Why not use this strategy to drive sales by rewarding customers with digital collectibles when they buy your product?

Fanaply collectibles

Ecommerce: Companies are using virtual goods, avatars, and even completely virtual influencers to drive sales of their products. Drest, for example, is an app that allows users to dress photo-realistic avatars in styling challenges, and then buy physical versions of the clothes on Farfetch.

Drest is following in the footsteps of Covet Fashion, a game that lets users create outfits with real brands. The app had 600k downloads in April 2020 and generated $53.4m in sales in 2018.

Bonus opportunity: Whatever millennials are spending on themselves, they are probably spending more on their babies (or fur babies).

Ecommerce companies in the child- or pet-care space can capitalize on this trend by getting people to interact and fall in love with their products virtually first — making their (physical) products irresistible to customers wanting to bring their virtual reality to life.

Around the Web

The reopening, in 5 charts (NYT). People are starting to move again, and investors are hopeful that the worst might be behind us.

Silicon Valley redefined office culture — now it needs to live without it (CNN Business). A shift to remote work could have far-reaching consequences for the tech industry.

The pandemic forces large startups to return to their roots (Washington Post). Are big players like Uber and Lyft too well-established to pivot and survive?

Why sweeping layoffs may hurt you when the pandemic subsides (Fast Company). Immediate savings can be canceled out by the long-term costs of rebuilding lost talent and skills.

What happens when the CEO gets coronavirus? (NYT). At least half a dozen leaders at publicly traded companies have tested positive for COVID-19.

The tech behind socially distanced selling (Vogue Business). Ecommerce is booming, but new tools will bring innovation to physical retail, too.

Related: The store of the future is coming this summer (Modern Retail). Here’s what the entrances, displays, fitting rooms, and checkout lines could look like.

Meet the high school sophomore who’s one of TikTok’s biggest stars (Washington Post). Charli D’Amelio is huge, but she’s not sure why.

What product have you started using recently that you fell in love with? (Twitter). Find your next great tool. Infographic(s) of the Week

The ‘When Will VR Arrive’ Debate Rages Even as Content Revenue on the Oculus Quest Hits $100m

One year into the release of the Oculus Quest VR headset, Facebook revealed that the company had sold $100m of apps on the platform.

This is definitely a milestone, but the “when will VR arrive” debate remains as fresh as ever.

A number of tech commentators have made some astute observations about the state of VR:

  • Matt Mazzeo: “We’re in a pandemic and people still don’t give a sh*t about VR. Oof.”
  • Kevin Roose: “I don’t think we should abandon [VR] altogether. I’m not a hater, but look what happened: we went into straight-up lockdown. It was the best possible time for #VR sales to go through the roof. And what happened? The Nintendo Switch sold out.'”

Former Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans recently wrote a comprehensive take on VR’s struggles (The VR Winter). His main concern is that there isn’t a clear roadmap for the usefulness of VR:

“We can make assertions of belief from first principles — there was no killer app for the first PCs either, but they looked useful. When I started my career 3G was the hot topic, and every investor kept asking ‘what’s the killer app for 3G?’ It turned out that the killer app for having the internet in your pocket was, well, having the internet in your pocket. But with each of those, we knew what to build next, and with VR we don’t. That tells me that VR has a place in the future. It just doesn’t tell me what kind of place.”

Conversely, current Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan (and one of the earliest western thinkers calling out the COVID-19 threat) believes that the Oculus Quest is the “most important device since the iPhone.”

His reasons:

  1. Genuine wow moment for people after they set it up and are transported to the main menu room
  2. Social distancing will mean the next few years are sessile, not mobile
  3. Useful for work AND for play
  4. Has crossed the chasm into something normal people can set up

If you’ve used the Oculus Quest and have any strong feelings either way, let us know! 📝 Programming Notes

New Trendster Doc Williams, who has helped everyone from rockstar NFL agents to Gary Vee up their marketing games, builds 3 businesses on YouTube every night, using one no-code tool. Learn more about his streaming workshops and the best businesses to build right now by reading our short profile of him. And join him for an exclusive “Build With Me” workshop for Trends members tomorrow (May 27) at 3pm ET. Register here.

Join Nat Eliason, founder of Growth Machine, for our latest Trends lecture, “SEO Strategies From Billion-Dollar Brands,” this Thursday (May 28) at 3pm ET. More info here. This week’s Trends send was brought to you by Sam Parr, Julia Janks, Ethan Brooks, Trung Phan, and Brad Wolverton. 😉 Got 15 seconds? Please share your feedback by hitting the Smileys below. Tell us what you liked and how we can make Trends better.

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