The term “Metaverse” first appeared in the 1992 novel Snow Crash. Back then, it described a theoretical concept, the author’s vision of how the internet could evolve toward a virtual-based reality. Fast forward 30 years and the Metaverse is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Technologies have advanced, and it’s now easier and more enjoyable than ever for people to experience 3D virtual reality via a browser or headset.
But does that mean it’s time for brands to get involved with the Metaverse? Should marketers start connecting with consumers in this virtual environment?
To begin to answer those questions, Sitecore recently surveyed both consumers and marketers about their perceptions of — and expectations for — the Metaverse. The results of this research were quite illuminating and can be taken as a signal that, yes, it is time for marketers to start exploring this new frontier.
Metaverse enthusiasts are excited to try things out
First, let’s take a look at what consumers told us. Keep in mind that to participate in this research, survey respondents indicated that they are currently engaging in the Metaverse, or that they want to engage with the Metaverse in the near future. We dubbed these participants “Metaverse enthusiasts” and among this group:
- Most want to use the Metaverse for expanding life experiences. We asked survey participants, “When it comes to using the Metaverse, what do you look forward to the most?” The top responses were “experiencing things I wouldn’t normally experience” (57%), “escaping reality” (51%), “being able to virtually test or try products” (49%), and “meeting new people” (47%).
- Popular Metaverse experiences include business transactions. As the results above suggest, Metaverse enthusiasts aren’t only interested in thrill-seeking and escape. When we probed a bit more and asked survey respondents how they would use the Metaverse, the most popular responses included “an event, concert, or festival” (43%), “to tour a home when looking to rent or buy a property” (37%), and “to try on shoes, clothes or makeup before purchasing” (37%).
- Brand messaging is expected. Based on the preceding two bullet points, it won’t come as a surprise that the consumers we polled are assuming they’ll see brand messaging in the Metaverse. But the high levels of acceptance were noteworthy: Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) of those we polled expect brands will sell or advertise on the Metaverse in the next 1-2 years. More specifically, we found that Metaverse enthusiasts are interested in using the Metaverse to engage across industries, with Retail (58%), Travel (52%), Food & Beverage (49%), and Beauty (45%) leading the way.
- The Metaverse could supplant traditional social media platforms. Nearly four in five (79%) of those we polled anticipate that they will spend more time in the Metaverse than on social media apps, like Facebook and Instagram.
Using the Metaverse to solve challenges
To add to the insights about consumers, we also surveyed 310 US marketers about their perceptions of the Metaverse. Among this group we found that:
- The vast majority appreciate the potential of the Metaverse. A whopping 90% of the marketers we polled agree that the Metaverse — if built correctly — can help solve unique business challenges. They believe the Metaverse will be able to help with brand building, including awareness (68%), customer engagement/loyalty (59%), and reputation (49%). More than half (54%) see sales and revenue potential, and more than one-third (36%) say that the Metaverse will support hiring and recruitment.
- Many have already begun to embrace the Metaverse. Almost one-third (31%) of the marketers in our survey said their organizations are already engaging with the Metaverse as part of their current marketing program. In addition, the majority (56%) reported that their current marketing programs include other mixed-reality investments, such as augmented reality or virtual reality.
- The Metaverse is factoring into future marketing plans and budgets. More than half (55%) of the marketers we polled said that even though they are not currently using the Metaverse, their organization is planning to engage with the Metaverse in the future. Millennials are the primary target of marketers in all industries that were surveyed.
Taken altogether, these study findings reveal that the Metaverse already has wide appeal among both consumers and marketers. Clearly, virtual environments present intriguing new opportunities to engage and connect with consumers, and the brands and marketers who understand and are starting to embrace and explore this new frontier are ahead of the game.
For additional insights about how consumers and marketers plan to use the Metaverse — including which Metaverse experiences marketers plan to offer, as well as potential use cases and concerns — you can view Sitecore’s 2022 Metaverse Reports here:
Paige O'Neill is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn