The metaverse, an immersive digital world that users navigate via wearable technology, is a concept that’s been around since the early days of science fiction. Recent developments, though, suggest that more people are starting to appreciate that the metaverse will become an important part of their daily lives.
According to a new report, these consumers are ready and willing to engage with brands in custom VR spaces. Entitled Perceptions of the Metaverse, the 2022 publication was compiled by software firm Software.
Amazingly, the report found that nearly half of US consumers (42%) described themselves as metaverse enthusiasts, with nine out of ten stating their belief that the metaverse will transform business, marketing and commerce over the next two years.
In point of fact, more than half of those surveyed said their favorite brands need to have a presence in the metaverse – or risk losing their business.
While the idea that people will soon prefer to interact with each other in the metaverse rather than the real world sounds outlandish, an increasing number of businesses are adapting their marketing strategies to cater for such an outcome.
As a result of the gradual shift from physical to digital spaces, a process expedited by the Covid pandemic, companies are rethinking how they engage with their customers. In order for brands to thrive in this exciting new milieu, they need highly personalized customer experiences (CX). Customers crave experience-driven CX where they can find what they want quickly without encountering friction when sampling new products or services.
Sitecore’s Perceptions of the Metaverse report found that nearly half of people surveyed report a better understanding of what the metaverse is today than this time last year. 48% said they had learned more about it in recent months, while another 15% said they’d learned a lot more about it from friends or family members over the last 12 months.
In addition to gaining more knowledge about what this tech does and how it works within our lives, many respondents said they were less fearful about using VR/AR headsets. A bullish sign given how many of them are now rolling off the production line.
When it comes to brands in the metaverse, 60% of those surveyed said they should be more personalized than they are in the physical world. While it’s extremely difficult to personalize products and services for thousands or even millions of shoppers trudging into a bricks-and-mortar store, it’s much easier when those shoppers are represented by digital avatars trailing an extensive data profile.
Although it’s still early days for metaverse personalization, it’s likely to be one of its key differentiators. The ability to collect and utilize data related to buyers’ preferences has been one of its main draws since day one, so it makes sense that brands would seek to leverage this aspect of VR experiences as much as possible.
One example of how this can be done right is with location-based activations such as those created by Marriott Hotels at Sundance Film Festival. By utilizing VR headsets during their activation, Marriott was able to provide users with customized messages based on where they were standing in relation to an object or product associated with their hotel chain (e.g., "Welcome back! We hope you're enjoying your stay").
Clearly advertisers and brands are still figuring out how best to use their ad dollars on these platforms, but they seem cognizant of the technology’s potential. One great thing about the metaverse is that it gives brands a chance to trial new ideas out and obtain feedback from consumers before making any sizeable investments in traditional media like TV ads or billboards – and if something doesn't work, they don't need to stick with it forever.
If the report has one take-home message, it’s this: the era of brands using VR, AR and MR technology for marketing purposes is upon us. Prepare accordingly.