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McDonald’s Discovers the Golden Ticket to Making Money in the Metaverse

McDonald’s recently filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in what indicates to most that the global fast food chain is setting up to open shop in the metaverse. Its applications largely center around the $36 billion company’s expansion into the “virtual food and beverage sector.” But McDonald’s isn’t just betting on demand for digital burgers or Golden Arches NFTs. 

Below the surface, McDonald’s is a case study illustrating how brands can enter the metaverse, as it is banking on exactly what has already made it billions of dollars.

Hidden within the depths of its applications, and beyond the downloadable multimedia files, virtual events, and non-fungible tokens is what McDonald’s is really after: “operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery,” according to trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who tweeted about it last week.

McDonald’s is entering the metaverse to offer patrons another way to order food (real food) for delivery online, to its customers’ real homes. The seemingly mundane move is smart, and business owners who want to stay on the cutting edge should pay attention. Here are three guideposts that can help inform a savvy strategy to enter–and make money in–the metaverse. 

1. Sell what sells for you.

No one decides to swing into a McDonald’s because they’re looking to invest some money or buy some artwork. So when McDonald’s decided to join the metaverse, it wasn’t just an attempt to stay relevant or to sell something totally new, but to keep selling exactly what sells: real-life burgers, fries, and other food products. As simple as it sounds, it’s brilliant, because the 66-year-old company knows what people want, and it’s continuing to sell exactly that–but via the metaverse. 

2. Meet people where they are.

A future where people are spending their time in the metaverse means that they’re not going out to a McDonald’s restaurant in person. But that doesn’t mean McDonald’s needs to lose the opportunity to feed hungry people looking for a bite to eat. And so McDonald’s is using the metaverse to meet people where they are–a key to finding customers–by giving them the ability to visit a McDonald’s in the metaverse and order real food, which will get delivered to their real homes. 

3. Offer a clear value.

Though the value of a Big Mac might be debatable, there’s no denying that the company is giving its customers a very clear value for their money. Because they can get via the metaverse exactly what they would get from a real-life McDonald’s restaurant, it will reduce friction and drive sales. After all, people know how much a burger and a shake costs, and when they buy it, they know exactly what they will get for their money. 

The genius of McDonald’s entry into the metaverse is that it proves you can stay in your own lane while exploring new paths. For businesses, the metaverse is just another platform to reach customers and make sales. And you don’t have to make up new products to be a part of it. 

So forge a strong value proposition, and use it to your advantage. It doesn’t matter whether you’re operating a business in the real world or in a virtual world, you need to provide real-world value. And to do that, you need to give people what they want, where they are. Because unless you’re Andy Warhol, odds are the average person isn’t going to be too wild about that NFT of burgers and fries, or a ketchup packet.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of