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07/05/2022

What do consumers want from metaverse commerce?

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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male millennial shopper
Gen Z shoppers are most likely to participate in the metaverse.

A new survey reveals generational differences in how consumers view the metaverse as a retail channel.

 Eighty-percent of surveyed Gen Z respondents are “familiar” with the metaverse and 51% have participated in it through gaming, purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or other activities, according to the new Retail Metaverse Report from operations platform Zipline,

While surveyed millennials have comparable levels of familiarity with the metaverse (84%), their participation rate is much lower (37%). Across all generations, 83% of respondents across all surveyed generations (Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z) said gaming was their main reason for participating in the metaverse, while 42% of respondents across all generations who have participated in the metaverse have used it for shopping.

Approximately half of Gen Z (52%) and millennial (48%) respondents who reported participating in the metaverse did so for entertainment purposes. Neither Millennials or Gen Z reported NFTs as the primary reason for participating in the metaverse.

In fact, fewer than 5% of all respondents who engaged in the metaverse said access to NFTs was the main reason, even though a majority of Gen X (84%), millennial (70%) and Gen Z (63%) respondents said they would be interested in getting an NFT from a brand they love. 

Other interesting findings include:

  • 85% of Gen Z respondents reported feeling indifferent about brands developing a presence in the metaverse, but the same percentage said they’d be interested in hybrid in-store experiences that use mixed reality technologies to incorporate a virtual element to shopping. 
  • A primary challenge for retailers will be overcoming a lack of understanding of the metaverse, which Gen Z (43%), Millennials (43%), and Gen X (53%) cited as the main reason for not participating.
  • A majority of Gen Z (85%), millennials (75%), and Gen X (69%) respondents said they would be interested in hybrid in-store mixed reality experiences that leverage augmented reality and virtual reality technologies for online shopping and engaging with friends – both virtually and in-person. 

Survey: Metaverse commerce poised for growth

A recent consumer survey from Accenture indicates participation and interest in making purchases in the metaverse may be greater than commonly thought. Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents had already purchased a virtual good or taken part in a virtual experience or service in the past year, with the figure expected to rise. More than eight in 10 (83%) respondents showed interest in making purchases via the metaverse.

“It’s still very early days for retail in the metaverse,” said Melissa Wong, CEO and co-founder of Zipline. “The majority of consumers across all generations have yet to utilize the metaverse in any capacity, and those who have are prioritizing games over shopping.

"Nonetheless, this creates a unique opportunity for retail brands to establish themselves as leaders in the new virtual economy. The key is to engage consumers with entertaining and accessible digital content that lowers the barriers to entry and meets metaverse users where they already exist.”

Zipline’s Retail Metaverse Report surveyed 600 people across the country ages 13-50 to better understand how generational differences influence consumer perception of and participation in virtual retail experiences.