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Interview: The Reason Why a Historic Department Store Entered the Metaverse Business and Its Dual-Monetization Strategy – Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Store

For the sixth installment of the 'Digital Fashion Era' series, we're featuring the Metaverse Project by Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co., Ltd.
Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Store is attracting attention for entering the metaverse, starting with the sale of original 3D avatars, a first in the department store industry. Since participating in the 'Virtual Market' in 2020, they have progressively gained achievements by starting with the exhibition of a virtual store.
This time, we asked Rui Okazaki of their Strategic Planning Department, who is in charge of the Metaverse project, about their reasons for starting, current efforts and responses, and future plans.

Starting the Metaverse Approach in 2020

First, could you tell us about the circumstances that led your department store to start the Metaverse Project?
We are working on the Metaverse Project in the DX Promotion section where I belong. The mission of this department is to create new businesses for digital natives without overly depending on stores.
When stores were forced to close due to the pandemic, we encountered a situation where we, as a department store, felt very helpless. What we felt then was the time constraint of business hours and the location constraint that real stores have. The management team unanimously felt that if we don't overcome these two things, there will be no future for the department store business.
So, the DX Promotion Department was created, aiming to digitize touchpoints and diversify revenue streams. Currently, it includes more than 100 members.
Its representative businesses include 'Another Address,' a fashion subscription service, and 'Raku Rich,' a frozen gourmet home delivery subscription service. We have launched seven projects in the last three years.
As one of the online strategies, we stepped into the Metaverse realm in 2020.
The Metaverse project officially became a business in October 2023, but could you tell us how you came to the sale of avatars?
We first participated in 'Virtual Market 5' held in the same year. The first time, we only had a small stall-like space, but through the exhibition at the event, we were able to offer an experience value in the VR space to many people.
What we realized was that there are people, communities, and 'residents' in the world of VRChat.
Although Metaverse is often criticized as a 'failure' these days, there are indeed many users who spend hundreds or thousands of hours in the Metaverse space, even sleeping or eating with a head-mounted display.
For example, there are many communities that enjoy hobbies like 'Fashion Gatherings' and other forms of 'Gatherings'. Although some may criticize these as 'just a bunch of divided communities', there are worlds that are as real, if not more real, as in reality.
If there are such 'residents', then it is essentially the mission of department stores to provide things that enrich and add color to their lives, even if the stage is different.
Therefore, we decided to develop and sell avatars, the first thing necessary for residents in the Metaverse.
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