Link to [full article](http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_315701.html) (subscribers only)
Yesterday I received a call from a Straits Times journalist who told me briefly about Tang’s plans to launch a virtual store in Second Life, and asked for my thoughts on this. I learnt that homegrown company First Meta was behind this initiative. I applaud them for being proactive in generating interest in Second Life, and Tangs for daring to explore a medium that is newer than the Internet and hasn’t become mainstream yet.
The questions that came to my mind were:
**Why now?** Interest in Second Life probably reached its zenith one or two years ago. The friends I used to meet regularly are no longer on Second Life. We’ve gone back to browser-based or simpler chat platforms. Tangs already appeals to its customer base via traditional media, partnerships with real-life credit cards. And it already has a website. Singaporeans are much more likely to visit Tangs because of their traditional media advertising, than through Second Life. Then again, better late than never I suppose, if you want to explore a new channel.
**Is it to make money?** If that’s the purpose, I don’t think it will be sustainable. You don’t sell virtual dresses for very much money, and there are lots of other stores in Second Life to compete with. However I was told the virtual store was to be used for branding purposes. As a Second Life fan my impression of Tangs could go up a little because I like innovative and adventurous companies. However I’m already pretty favourable towards Tangs as I’ve been a member for years, and I was planning a visit before Christmas anyway, with or without a virtual store.
**How can it be sustainable?** I was told the virtual goods would only come from the women’s department, and that there’d be new designs added (but how regularly?). It would be interesting to see if there’s anything I’d be willing to spend my load of Linden$ on. However, my avatar already has a lot of clothes and accessories, many of which were given for free, so there’s a lot of inertia for me to buy anything new. Nothing goes out of fashion so much in Second Life as in real life, because you can be as quirky and retro as you want to be.
Doing a funnel analysis:
How many *active* users are there in Second Life today?
Of those, how many are Singaporeans, Malaysians, tourists or expats who’ve known of Tangs / have visited it before?
Of those, how many know of the forthcoming Tangs virtual store?
Of those, how many will visit the virtual store?
Of those, how many will gain a better impression of Tangs? (if that is the objective)
Thanks anyway to CHH for the prominent quote.
Excerpts to give you more info on what’s happening:
> When the virtual Tangs opens in March next year, visitors will be able to buy clothes, hairdos and different looks for their characters, said Tangs assistant vice-president of marketing and communications Lin Pei Hua.
> Shoppers can expect to see items from Tangs’ ‘signature lines…but with a tinge of fantasy’, in line with players’ desire for a ‘larger-than-life’ appearance for their online personas.
> Users can pay for their purchases in Linden dollars, the game’s currency, or via a virtual credit card. Credit card bills are paid monthly in Linden dollars, which can be converted into real money.
> More floors, ‘stocked with usable and desirable items by well-known Second Life designers’, will be added over time, said First Meta co-founder Aileen Sim.
> First Meta, which operates Second Life’s credit card system, is helping Tangs to create the store and find tenants.
> REPEAT VISITORS?
> ‘I visited Adidas and Dell in Second Life, those were big budget, well- made stores, but I did everything I wanted to do there on my first visit. The second time I went back, nothing had changed, and I haven’t gone back since. This (sustainability) will be Tangs’ challenge – give me a reason to go back and spend.’
> Second Life user Vanessa Tan