Business Case Studies, Marketing Strategies / Strategic Marketing Case Study, Second Life, A unique marketing platform

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Case Title:

Second Life: A unique marketing platform

Publication Year : 2007

Authors: Ruchi Mankad & Joel Sarosh Thadamalla

Industry: Internet and e-commerce


Case Code: MKS0095A

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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‘Second Life’ an online 3D virtual world was launched in 2003 and by March 2007 it had over 4 million members who were called its residents. Everything in Second Life was created by the residents with the help of simple 3D tools. The residents could create their own ‘avatars’ (appearances), clothes, houses, entire cities and anything and everything which their imagination permitted. Second Life had its own economy which was supported by its own currency called Linden dollars which could be exchanged with real US$ at the official currency exchange of Second Life. The residents at Second Life could start their own business in Second Life and obtain copyrights for their virtual creations which could be extended in real-world as well. The use, buying, selling or trade of properties or items in Second Life contributed mainly towards the economy of Second Life. Many residents derived real income from their activities and businesses in Second Life.

Second Life was regularly featured in leading business and innovation magazines. With its rising popularity, many real-world businesses and organizations also entered Second Life. Renowned names like Adidas, Toyota, Starwood Hotel & Resorts, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Dell, MTV, Reuters and Harvard Business School were a few among them. As on September 2006, the GDP of Second Life was reported at around $64 million. While being immensely successful, Second Life was also surrounded by many controversies such as issues of copyright theft, adult content, virtual policing and inactive accounts.

The case with the use of a fictional setting of an apparel company aims at debating the suitability of Second Life as the marketing platform for their newly launched apparel brand.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To analyse the business model of Second Life; an online 3D virtual world
  • To analyse Second Life as an emerging marketing platform for renowned real-world businesses and organisations
  • To debate on the suitability of using Second Life as a marketing platform.

Keywords : Second Life, 3D, virtual world, Philip Rosedale, online games, Linden Lab, residents, avatar based marketing, marketing platform, innovations, membership, business model, economy, Marketing Strategies Case Study, Linden dollars, copyright theft and security, Anshe chung, real world business organisations, Toyota, Intel, Starwood, Adidas, controversies, virtual policing


  • Second Life
  • Business organizations in Second Life
  • Controversies
  • Copyright Issues and Security
  • The next big thing?

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