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Study: 90 percent of consumers are “curious” about the metaverse

By Simone Preuss


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Metaverse Fashion Week runway show. Image: Decentraland

One innovation that brands, retailers and consumers can hardly ignore is the metaverse, a virtual reality space where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and each other. More and more brands and retailers have discovered the metaverse for themselves and are trying to attract their customers not only offline and online, but also in the virtual space. But how exactly do they benefit from it and how is the metaverse received and perceived? Two new studies are dedicated to this topic.

The study “Total Immersion: How immersive experiences and the metaverse benefit customer experience and operations” by the Capgemini Research Institute examined the extent to which immersive experiences and the metaverse improve the customer experience and operations. It surveyed 8,000 consumers 18 years or older in twelve countries in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific in July and August 2022 about their AR/VR and other mobile/web-based immersive applications, including the metaverse.

The Institute also surveyed 1,000 companies from the consumer goods, retail, discrete manufacturing, life sciences, media, telecommunications, banking and insurance sectors to find out how companies are using these immersive technologies for their internal operations. This was supplemented by in-depth interviews with executives and technology partners in the field, as well as a social listening study that used Google search analysis, social media analysis, sentiment analysis and emotion.

“The findings suggest that the much-touted immersive technologies have great potential that businesses can harness,” sums up the study.

This was also the conclusion of a joint metaverse survey by market research institute Sinus and KPMG among more than 2,000 German citizens between the ages of 14 and 39. “For retailers and service providers of certain product groups and offers, the virtual world of the metaverse can represent a central sales market in which they can reach younger target groups,” they concluded.

Companies value immersive experiences

The Capgemini study found that companies expect immersive experiences to become important not only for interacting with customers, but also for improving the work experience of their employees. 70 percent believe that immersive experiences and the metaverse will be important applications to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, especially in terms of the customer journey.

Two-thirds of the companies surveyed (66 per cent) have already developed a roadmap for immersive experiences for the next one to two years. Fifteen percent plan to establish an initial presence in the metaverse within a year, and 45 percent believe it will be mainstream within three years. However, many companies are currently still taking a cautious approach.

“We are starting to see a more sophisticated approach from companies to designing immersive experiences and specifically the metaverse. The initial interest in the metaverse was driven by investment from the big tech players. This did not adequately address the real challenges of accessibility, security, interoperability and privacy, among others. Companies are now working hard on this,” commented Sargon Korkis, head of digital experience services at Capgemini Germany, in a statement.

Metaverse challenges for companies

In addition to external factors such as immature technology or a lack of connectivity infrastructure, there are also a number of internal challenges for companies to meet and expand consumer demand. “In particular, there is a lack of strategic planning: 40 percent of companies still see immersive experience initiatives as one-off projects, not as the first step in a series of continuous improvements. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of companies say there is no management commitment to immersive experiences, and more than half (56 percent) have no clear roadmap for adopting such technology," finds the Capgemini study.

The interviews conducted as part of the study revealed that companies have already successfully implemented various initiatives internally, using immersive experiences and the metaverse, such as digital prototyping in the automotive industry with VR design and construction testing, training medical professionals in surgery and planning retail spaces. In the latter case, the virtual viewing of a space allows the design team to plan a store without having to physically be on site.

Consumers are “fascinated” by the metaverse

More than three fourths (77 percent) of consumers surveyed by Capgemini expect immersive experiences to influence the way they interact with people, brands and services. At 4 percent, only a small group of them are already metaverse-literate - about 380 respondents in this study. However, three quarters of them said they currently used the metaverse and would continue to do so.

The study showed that consumers are generally “fascinated” by the possibilities of immersive experiences. They are most interested in using the metaverse as a place to interact with family and friends (43 percent) and colleagues (39 percent). The brands they would most like to interact with in the metaverse include retailers (78 percent) and consumer goods companies (77 percent). “This shows that consumers particularly want to improve their shopping experience for products with high experiential value, such as cars, furniture and household electronics,” states the study.

Metaverse shopping is “conceivable”

According to the KPMG study, about 50 percent of respondents are willing to buy physical products in the digital world: 61 percent could imagine buying clothes or shoes and 50 percent cosmetics, drugstore items or DIY supplies. 43 percent would be willing to buy groceries in the virtual world.

“The survey results show that both well-known and new brands have the chance to establish themselves in the metaverse. Well-known brands have the advantage of a leap of faith. According to data, two-thirds of the respondents pay particular attention to reputable offers in the metaverse. New brands, on the other hand, can specialise in digital and unique products. More than half of the respondents estimate that they can own very unusual products in the metaverse compared to in reality,” explains Stephan Fetsch, partner and head of retail at KPMG, in a statement.

However, there is a gap between actual consumer spending and interest in the metaverse: Nearly 80 percent of respondents spent money on online purchases last year, but less than half can currently imagine shopping in the metaverse. This holds great potential for retailers.

“Against the background of the increasing popularity of the metaverse, this difference of more than 30 percentage points holds enormous potential for retailers in goods and services in the metaverse - always provided that they reach the appropriate target groups. According to the hypothesis that every euro can only be spent once, the question arises here: will consumers leave it in the online world or in the metaverse in the future?", asks Colette Lala, sector manager retail at KPMG.

Challenges for consumers

As curious as consumers are about the metaverse, their enthusiasm may be dampened by concerns about the technology: they are especially concerned about harassment, personal safety and privacy. This was the finding of a Capgemini social media analysis of more than 180,000 online conversations.

“For the metaverse, as a network of virtual worlds, security and ethical issues are important in creating a sense of community, which is critical for widespread adoption. Whether the applications are for customers or employees, companies need to address these concerns before creating their virtual spaces. They should also find a way to moderate these spaces while balancing privacy and security concerns. Therefore, they need to understand the metaverse today to avoid being left behind later,” concludes Korkis.

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