Eating in the Metaverse

The Lempert Report
September 20, 2022

On today’s Bullseye Eater asks if “I can Eat It” in the metaverse. Jaya Saxena at Eater is a 35-year-old who says she is challenged by food in the metaverse. She doesn’t leave us with the impression that she either wants or understands the connection of food brands excitement about the possibilities and their future in the metaverse. Chipotle introduced a Garlic Guajillo Steak product on Roblox last week, and the Mexican chain claims it’s the first restaurant to launch a menu item in the metaverse. “By launching Garlic Guajillo Steak in the metaverse, we are able to share our culinary traditions and real food proposition with Gen Z,” said Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt, as Gen Z metaverse users, he says, are way more likely to spend money there.  The good news is that Saxena tells us that we can buy the garlic guajillo steak at Chipotle locations in the U.S. and Canada for a limited time. It’s also available in the grill simulator in Roblox, Chipotle’s press release tells us that “users grill Garlic Guajillo Steak following Chipotle’s exact culinary process and then virtually taste Garlic Guajillo Steak’s robust flavors. She poo-poos the Chipotle benefits of entree codes for rewards members and chances to unlock exclusive virtual items that she doesn’t care about because in her words “I’m not a dweeb”.

I get it – I understand where she is coming from – but I have to disagree a bit. I’ll agree that having my avatar head over, grill a virtual steak on a virtual grill and then virtually eating it is not my idea of a good and tasty meal. The metaverse is not about filling your belly. It’s about creating experiences that enhance and sometimes, romance the brand.  Chipotle says that “After successfully preparing Garlic Guajillo Steak, users will be able to virtually taste the menu innovation with Chipotle’s iconic black fork. A flavor aura will appear, highlighting Garlic Guajillo Steak’s dynamic flavor profile.” In this case, both sides are expecting a bit too much. If the metaverse is successful – and especially in the category of food, we will have to get past the hype and tech and really figure out how our consumers and shoppers want to use this engaging and empowering tool – its not going to be play acting our avatars to sit at a dinner table, be served a meal, grab our knife and fork and go at it. Those that build their metaverses with that model will fail. Today, I don’t know where the food metaverse is headed – but my word of caution is simple. If you are trying to emulate a real food experience, you will fail. If you see the metaverse through the eyes of the consumer – you will own it.