New research on the metaverse suggests that the new ecosystem will transform purchasing processes and the role of the consumer in the near future. Let's take a look at the role of companies and customers in the metaverse.
In the fall of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, announced his intention to direct his company towards the Metaverse. Despite not inventing it, Zuckerberg's claim popularized the concept and caused everyone to start talking about it.
A year later, the metaverse is a reality and its global market in 2022 is already valued at $47.48 billion, predicted to reach $800 billion by 2024.
What is exactly the metaverse?
Briefly, the metaverse is an online universe that reproduces the physical universe in the digital ecosystem through artificial intelligence —especially virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)—. The goal of the metaverse is that people can interact, coexist and experience in the digital environment in the same way we do in the physical world through avatars and AR and VR devices such as virtual reality headsets.
As a concept, the metaverse first appeared in the science fiction novel Snow Crash published by Neal Stephenson —also creator of the concept 'avatar'— in 1992.
In practice, the metaverse is conceived as an interactive digital space where we can shop, interact, work and enjoy multiple forms of entertainment from the comfort of our homes, through immersive experiences that reproduce the sensations and possibilities of the physical world.
What to expect from the metaverse: A guide for companies
I know what you're thinking. All this metaverse stuff sounds like something out of a Black Mirror episode. However, to quote the many times proven right saying: reality goes beyond fiction.
The metaverse is not only a reality, but also one of the main sources of investment for large companies in multiple sectors. The popularity of the metaverse is already having consequences, with studies revealing that companies that do not invest in immersive technologies in the coming years will be left behind. This, in turn, will transform customer experiences as we know them through more immersive and sensory customer experiences in the digital world.
A few months ago, in May 2022, the U.S. company Accenture published the report 'Accenture Technology Vision 2022: Meet Me in the Metaverse. The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business'. The study is based on a survey of more than 11,000 customers in 16 countries, including Spain.
Let's take a look at some of the most significant insights from the report.
Companies in the metaverse:
- 90% of retail entrepreneurs expect leading companies to invest in expanding the horizons of the digital world to make it more real, breaking down the existing barriers between physical and digital worlds.
- 72% of worldwide entrepreneurs believe that the metaverse will have a positive impact on their business model. 45% of respondents also believe that the metaverse will transform our lives.
Customers in the metaverse:
- 55% of consumers around the world say that a large part of their life has moved to the digital space.
- 64% of Spanish customers have already purchased a virtual good or participated in a virtual experience or service in 2022.
- 37% of Spanish consumers have visited an online store in 2022 and 56% plan to do so by 2023.
- 88% of customers say they are interested in buying through the metaverse.
If the boom of e-commerce during the global pandemic took us by surprise, a new e-commerce boom caused by the metaverse should be something that companies are already anticipating. The new digital ecosystem will push the relevance of online shopping to new limits, again forcing companies to go through a new digital and data-driven transformation.
Business sectors most likely to succeed in the metaverse
In terms of the impact of the different business sectors in the metaverse, the leisure sector, the entertainment industry, the retail sector and the tourism sector stand out.
Retail and product sales companies have a huge business opportunity in the metaverse. According to the Accenture report mentioned above, 38% of spanish customers have already bought clothes or accessories for an avatar or for themselves to wear in a virtual environment and 52% expect to do so next year.
The same goes for the beauty industry. 35% of respondents in Spain have purchased makeup or hair products to apply to an avatar or themselves in a virtual environment through a digital filter, and the percentage is expected to reach 50% in the next 12 months.
However, other sectors also stand out in terms of their potential impact on the metaverse. According to the report, 51% of consumers in Spain have already bought or would be interested in buying a virtual tourism experience or a stay in a virtual hotel, which creates new business opportunities in the tourism sector and for hotel chains
Another sector with great business opportunities is the leisure sector. In Spain, 60% of customers have purchased or would be interested in purchasing tickets for a show, concert or sport event taking place in the metaverse.
Finally, the study also highlights the weight of immersive online webinars and consultancy services on a wide range of topics, which represents an opportunity for all sectors to rethink their marketing and communication campaigns, including the metaverse as one of their touch points.
The role of the customer in the metaverse
Whatever the future holds for the metaverse, it is clear that the new environment will alter the way we live, interact and think about entertainment, leisure and shopping. What we already know is that the metaverse will take digitization and personalization of customer experiences to a new level. In addition, the characteristics of the digital environment offer new possibilities for consumers, who are expected to take on an even greater role in the purchasing process.
The interaction and immersion expected in the metaverse is intended to involve customers more actively in any consumption process, which, in turn, will increase the consumer's power of decision, impact and influence.
The metaverse is designed to be a space in which the customer is the main character and the one who manages his or her own journey at all times. If the physical world is already leading us towards increasingly customer-centric business models, in the metaverse customer-centricity will simply be a must.
Are you ready for the metaverse? Start your customer-centric transformation today. We can help you!