The metaverse has become a focal point for both marketers and consumers, ushering in a new era of virtual engagement. Despite being in its early stages, brands are navigating this evolving landscape, with consumers displaying a keen readiness to immerse themselves in novel virtual environments.
In a recent report titled ‘Perceptions of the Metaverse’ by Sitecore, it was revealed that 42% of U.S. consumers proudly identify as metaverse enthusiasts. Notably, an overwhelming 87% anticipate that the metaverse will fundamentally shape their future shopping experiences and brand interactions. This insight, derived from a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers and 310 U.S. consumer brand marketers, underscores the growing importance of understanding and leveraging this emerging virtual realm.
Paige O’Neill, Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore, emphasized, “Consumer enthusiasm about the technology means one thing — the moment has arrived for marketers to start planning for and building metaverse-like experiences. Understanding who to target and how your customers want to engage with you in these environments will be crucial for success.”
Marketers, recognizing the metaverse’s potential, are strategically integrating it into their campaigns. The report reveals that 31% of marketers already incorporate the metaverse into their current programs, while an additional 55% have plans to leverage it in the future. Visionary marketers view virtual environments as avenues to enhance brand awareness (68%), foster customer engagement (59%), and pioneer new product or category creations (55%).
To realize these ambitious goals, marketers are adopting diverse approaches. Approximately 57% are using or intend to use the metaverse as a novelty item to captivate buyers, with 55% employing it as a platform to test products. Half of brands are leveraging or planning to leverage the metaverse for gamification, enhancing buyer engagement, while 40% view it as a potent customer experience tool.
On the consumer side, there’s a strong inclination toward using the metaverse to enrich life experiences. This includes desires to “experience things they wouldn’t normally experience” (57%), “escape reality” (51%), and “meet new friends” (79%). Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are the demographics most eager to engage with brands in the metaverse, with organizations aligning their strategies accordingly.
O’Neill emphasizes the importance of tailoring metaverse experiences to different audiences: “Our survey shows that millennials and Gen Z value being able to get access to exclusive content, ensuring diverse representation in these environments, and being part of a community. Leveraging these preferences will be key for ensuring that these consumer groups are targeted with the experiences they desire.”
Looking ahead, 67% of marketers envision the metaverse becoming a dominant platform for interacting with consumers. Remarkably, 79% of consumers anticipate spending more time in the metaverse than on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram in the future.
Brands are approaching the metaverse with a focus on consumer engagement, reshaping everything from shopping experiences to customer support and employee engagement. With nearly three-quarters of organizations considering metaverse experiences, there’s a notable emphasis on personalized and interactive shopping experiences, creating community settings, and gamifying interactions.
Measuring success in the metaverse is a critical consideration for marketers. Key performance indicators include attracting new buyers (54%), gaining followers (51%), and driving direct sales revenue (50%). O’Neill underscores the importance of solving specific business problems, citing the example of retailers using the metaverse to address increased return rates and enhance the overall consumer experience.
As we enter 2023, it’s evident that virtual environments will play a pivotal role in marketing strategies and budgets. Nearly 7 in 10 businesses (69%) have current or future plans to build metaverse experiences in 2023, with 48% allocating 10-25% of their marketing budgets to the metaverse. Over the next five years, 42% of all marketers anticipate investing 10-25% of their budgets in metaverse experiences, surpassing traditional advertising channels.
In conclusion, the metaverse holds broad appeal for both consumers and marketers, presenting exciting opportunities to connect with customers in novel ways. Brands willing to explore and experiment with this new frontier are poised to reap substantial benefits in the future.