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Lowe’s is unveiling its NFT and metaverse strategy, and it involves turning real-world builders into virtual ones.
At the Cannes advertising festival today, Lowe’s became one of several brands to showcase how it intends to engage in the metaverse. Its strategy appears to be to recreate its business model, only in digital environments. “Lowe’s aims to equip builders free of charge with items from its real-world shelves,” the company said in an announcement on Tuesday.
“The metaverse is in a pivotal stage of development,” said Marisa Thalberg, Lowe’s chief brand and marketing officer, in the announcement. “It’s only natural that we would be interested in working alongside and in service of the emerging community of builders creating this new world.”
Here is what Lowe’s is doing in the metaverse: It opened a virtual library called Lowe’s Open Builder with more than 500 virtual products, including, furniture, rugs, lighting and kitchen and bath accessories. The items can be converted into non-fungible tokens or just used as virtual products in gaming worlds that don’t incorporate NFTs. Creators can access the products for use inside virtual worlds like Decentraland, an NFT-based open world. The concept incorporates “interoperability,” because the assets in the virtual catalog could be used among different worlds, Lowe’s said.
Lowe’s also designed a line of NFT clothing for avatars to wear. Lowe’s said 1,000 participants would be able to order NFT hardhats, boots and other items. A number of retailers and traditional brands are experimenting with NFTs and metaverse worlds, even as this new economy goes through its first growing pains. NFT markets have slipped amid a broader downturn in crypto-currencies, and critics have suggested that brands are chasing a doomed trend. But advocates of crypto-technology consider it the future of computing.
Brands are trying to walk a fine line between innovation, while taking care not to appear ostentatious or taking undue risks with this fledgling technology. Just this week, hackers breached a Discord forum devoted to French fashion designer Lacoste. Fans of retailers and brands have become seemingly easy targets in the still nascent NFT markets.
Lowe’s sees the metaverse as a venue for consumers and builders to test home renovations and do-it-yourself projects before committing to them. The idea of a digital “twin” is becoming one of the useful applications of the metaverse.
“Over the past several years, we have infused new technologies into the planning and shopping experience and know our customers have benefitted greatly from being able to explore and test home improvement projects in the virtual world before taking the leap to implementation in their real-world homes or job sites,” Seemantini Godbole, chief information officer of Lowe’s, said in the company’s announcement. “By entering the metaverse now, we can explore new opportunities to serve, enable and inspire our customers in a way no other home improvement retailer today is doing.”

In this article:
Garett Sloane is Ad Age’s technology, digital and media reporter. He has worked in newspapers from Albany to New York City, and small towns in between. He has also worked at every advertising industry trade publication that matters, and he once visited Guatemala and once rode the Budapest Metro.