Only 16% of people understand what the metaverse is
The metaverse may be a new technological – and social – phenomena, but are marketers and the public keeping up? Kristin Cronin, US head of marketing at Dept, takes a look at the evolutionary space and suggests some takeaways for brands looking to dive in.
Dept considers the evolutionary nature of the metaverse
According to Meta, the metaverse is “the next evolution of social connection.”
That sounds lovely, but what does that mean exactly? And how do consumers feel about it?
In May 2022, Dept set out to find out by conducting a survey of nearly 2,000 consumers about their feelings toward the metaverse, based on their current knowledge. The respondents were all aged 18-60 and located in the US.
Here are some of the highlights, and how brands can leverage this data to accelerate metaverse technology acceptance and enthusiasm.
Only 16% of consumers understand what the metaverse is
When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I understand what the metaverse is,” only 16% of people said that they agreed.
This percentage was fairly consistent across all age groups, with 18-29-year-olds performing slightly worse than their older cohorts.
Metaverse definitions are widely disputed, so it’s not surprising that users are confused, but herein lies an opportunity for education.
According to web3 expert and brand innovator Paula Marie Kilgarriff, brands should “stay away from saying ‘the one metaverse.’ What brands are doing is using technology to create 3D virtual experiences that encourage co-creation and customization.”
H&M recently created a virtual showroom (and named it just that) to leverage 3D and virtual reality (VR) technology. This experience could be considered a metaverse, but by calling it a virtual showroom, users immediately understand what the digital offering is and why they might join.
Despite lack of knowledge, there is plenty of curiosity
Even though most people aren’t exactly sure what the metaverse is or how it will benefit them, they would still join. Why?
41% of users said curiosity was their number one reason to participate in the metaverse. Other reasons include gaming in the metaverse or attending a digital event.
New technology is exciting, and people want to experience it firsthand, even if they don’t understand it. This fact should excite brands and digital businesses since curiosity and marketing go hand in hand.
68% of users don’t see value in NFTs
With constant news of new NFTs, it may seem like NFTs are a no-brainer for popular brands wanting to experiment with metaverse technology.
However, we found that 68% of users don’t see the value of owning an NFT. Of those that do see the value in NFTs, 38% said their reasoning was “the potential value [of an NFT] in the future.” 24% said to own a collector’s item of a favorite artist/group and 18% said to participate in an exclusive experience.
Many early NFT adopters understand the long-term value of these assets, but more education is needed for the bulk of consumers.
Engaging with brands in the metaverse? It’s a 50/50 split
50% of respondents said that they would engage with a brand in the metaverse.
We followed up with the question, “What would encourage you to engage with a brand?” The most popular themes were:
To experience products before purchasing
Creating a billboard or commercial in the metaverse is one thing. Convincing fans to actively engage with you is another. To successfully do this, brands will need to create a community, offer a discernible benefit or have an awe-worthy metaverse experience.
The top perceived drawback isn’t climate-related
We asked survey-takers about negative aspects, if any, that might exist in the metaverse.
By far, the number one response was a hypothesized ‘disconnection from real life,’ with 47% of survey takers responding as such. Following that was the potential for trolling/harassment and then misinformation potential at 19% and 17%, respectively.
Environmental issues? A mere 4% listed it as a top concern.
Even if our survey said users don’t care, we know that energy consumption issues associated with things such as NFTs are a concern for brands. The good news is that blockchain technology isn’t inherently bad for the environment.
Takeaways for brands
People might not know what the metaverse is yet, but they love the tech that drives it. This includes virtual worlds, augmented reality (AR) via filters and cameras, and online communities. As the line between digital and physical continues to blur, these technologies are the best places to start experimenting and investing.
Approachability and education will be essential. An average user might not understand your brand’s ‘metaverse experience’ but they do understand a ‘virtual showroom.’ Be clear in your naming conventions so you don’t end up confusing your users.
Create it and they may not come. To engage with a brand, people want something in return. Sometimes monetary benefits, sometimes exclusivity, sometimes experiences. Creating a successful brand experience will require you to understand your user’s preferences and then deliver.
To learn more about the survey results, join Dept and Journee – The Metaverse Company at Meta Festival on June 28. The virtual event is freely accessible for anyone who registers via meta-festival.com.
The research conducted by Dept was distributed to 1,777 users in the United States aged 18-60, with a 50/50 gender balance. Completed May 2 2022.
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DEPT® is a pioneering technology and marketing services company that creates end-to-end digital experiences for brands such as Google, KFC, Philips, Audi, Twitch, Patagonia, eBay and more. Its team of 2,500+ digital specialists across 30+ locations on 5 continents delivers pioneering work on a global scale with a boutique culture. DEPT® is committed to making a positive impact on the planet and since 2021 has been Climate Neutral and B Corporation certified.