Seven in 10 (69 percent) consumers are looking for a quick getaway from the cares of the physical world by exploring metaverse-like environments to engage with friends, family, and colleagues, and enjoy more leisurely activities, according to new research from cloud contact firm Talkdesk.
The firm’s new report, Connecting in the Metaverse, also finds nearly half (49 percent) of the 1,500 U.S. consumers surveyed view a fully-built, unified metaverse as a fertile landscape for growing relationships and deepening connections. The report additionally uncovers consumer perceptions and expectations on brand engagement in the future metaverse frontier.
“While the reality of a sophisticated, intuitive, and seamless metaverse is still on the horizon, consumers are dipping their toes into metaverse-like platforms to shop, share, play games, and taste the novelty. Some are even dating in these digital environments,” said Shannon Flanagan, vice president of retail and consumer goods at Talkdesk, in a news release. “For consumers, the metaverse holds promise for near-limitless, out-of-this-world experiences and connecting in new and different ways.”
Knock, knock. Who’s there?
While the majority of consumers have visited a metaverse-like platform recently, it’s the digital-natives who tend to participate most.
- Men (73 percent) are more likely than women (62 percent) to visit these destinations.
- Not surprisingly, millennials (75 percent) and Gen Zers (64 percent) are heading there more often than baby boomers (45 percent).
- Once they arrive, women are more likely to use these platforms as a virtual showroom, browsing products digitally before returning to the physical world to make purchases (25 percent vs. 18 percent for men).
A place to escape
- Consumers are embracing proto-metaverses as an opportunity to connect with friends and family away from the worries of today’s complicated real world. More than half (54 percent) of consumers feel separated from family and friends due to the pandemic.
- For baby boomers, virtual travel plans to the metaverse environment center primarily around socializing with friends (39 percent).
- Close to one-third of consumers (32 percent) are drawn by the possibility of finding new and more thrilling experiences.
The mainstream metaverse
The companies that are expected to lead the charge in building out a truly interconnected metaverse estimate that it will not be in full form for at least a decade. Survey respondents’ expectations, however, appear to be several years ahead—more than one-third of them (34 percent) predict the metaverse will be mainstream within the next five years.
Regardless of the timeline, early metaverse-like platforms are already exposing areas of concerns around policing and moderating of interactions, as 37 percent of women and 50 percent of men admit to having experienced harassment, racism, or some form of discrimination while participating in one of these environments. As a result, more than half of those surveyed (56 percent) believe the government should regulate the metaverse and have oversight of the immersive virtual world.
Insights for brands
For brands, a promising new land awaits. Nearly half of the consumers (47 percent) who are dabbling in the metaverse are buying virtual items or finding inspiration for purchasing a physical product.
- Despite the work yet to be done, there are high expectations for customer experiences in the metaverse. More than half (51 percent) of consumers expect customer service to be better in the metaverse.
- Nearly one in three consumers (32 percent) believe these immersive environments will provide less frustration and anxiety than calling and talking to a contact center agent.
- Consumers also envision the metaverse as making it easier to access product or brand information (27 percent), and that it will be more effective and interactive to seek assistance from an omni-agent’s metaverse avatar than to engage with a chatbot online (27 percent).
“To prepare for what’s to come, brands should consider incorporating more interactive shopping and services, including video shopping, into their customer experience strategies,” said Flanagan. “This will help them plan for their immersive engagements and what those will look like when the metaverse does arrive, so they’re well positioned for making the kinds of meaningful and memorable connections consumers are seeking.”
In April 2022, Talkdesk surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers between the ages of 16 and 54+ via the mobile polling app Pollfish to determine awareness and perceptions around the metaverse and uncover opportunities for brands to deliver new and better customer experiences.