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The metaverse has a problem: Consumers aren’t ready yet to shop—and distrust the Big Tech driving it

by | Apr 25, 2022 | Public Relations

As brands are staking their claim on the metaverse continue to multiply, new research from consumer insights data platform Zappi shows that consumers don’t have a desire to shop on the metaverse and that appeal and trust is still low.

The survey, which asked consumers across the US and the UK about how they feel about the metaverse, found that a staggering 85 percent of consumers don’t currently have a desire to interact with their favorite brands or communities, whereas only around one in five (20 percent) states a desire to shop in the virtual world.

Despite the hype that the metaverse has drawn in recent months—with companies like Meta, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Ralph Lauren placing big bets to get their foot in the virtual door—the lack of appeal among today’s consumers could be explained by the confusion about what the metaverse really is and what its benefits are. While awareness is high with 69 percent of consumers having heard of it before (often due to Facebook’s rebranding last year), familiarity is low—over 55 percent claim they don’t understand what it means, and only 6 percent believe they are ‘extremely familiar.’

As an increasing number of household names support the long-term metaverse vision, the good news for brands is that today’s consumers find the metaverse more irrelevant (50 percent) than unappealing (44 percent), suggesting there is a significant potential opportunity if they are persuaded: “Our data shows that companies with interests in the metaverse have a lot of work to do to change consumer’s attitudes and get them on board. We saw a similar reluctance in the early days of online shopping on web 1.0, which indicates the need for brands to show what experiences in this virtual new world might look like, introduce clear propositions and demonstrate how consumers might benefit from the metaverse,” says Ryan Barry, President at Zappi, in a news release.

Where does the opportunity lie for brands?

Just like consumers don’t appear to be attracted by shopping in the metaverse, they also don’t view it as a platform to do their daily work and develop their careers (52 percent).

On the positive side, there seem to be many benefits for brands. According to survey respondents, the most significant appeal of the metaverse lies in gaming and socializing—with 32 percent being excited about playing games and 28 percent supporting it as a platform to disconnect from the outside world and socialize with loved ones. What’s more, there is an opportunity for the metaverse to act as a way for families to spend valuable time with one another, as consumers with children living in their households are consistently more excited about the metaverse than others—notably around social communications, virtual travel and augmented reality. The findings also show that enthusiasm and eagerness to join the metaverse are highest among those who consider themselves early adopters of technology and have already invested in augmented reality applications, NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

Consumers also revealed that the metaverse provides an appealing opportunity to have access to new experiences that they might not have the budget for in the traditional manner, such as virtual travel (58 percent), which could be expanded as the effects of the global inflation and cost-of-living crises continue.

Looking ahead, it isn’t that the adoption of the metaverse is expected to boom in the immediate term. According to Zappi’s data, only 20 percent of consumers expect to use the metaverse within the next year; however, a third expect to use it within five years, and almost 50 percent within the next decade.

Addressing digital safety in the metaverse

As digitalization and the boom of remote work continue to force brands to consider digital privacy and critical role it plays in building brand trust, the level of scrutiny from consumers as to how the metaverse will ensure digital safety is expected to increase. Isolation and alienation from friends, family and the real world were cited as the biggest barrier to metaverse adoption among consumers (37 percent), followed by privacy concerns (34 percent) and monetization of personal information (30 percent).

Furthermore, trust is low among the public in the Big Tech players likely to be driving metaverse offerings in the future. While Meta (formerly known as Facebook) might lead the way in the metaverse today, it is also the brand that consumers trust the least in the context of this new technology, compared to Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

Barry concluded: “Data companies are under high pressure and scrutiny these days. To get the metaverse right, brands will need to take a proactive approach to privacy and security and make them a top priority. It will be crucial to be crystal clear about how user data is being used and monetized, how to keep their information safe, and the potential risks of oversharing.”
Zappi surveyed a nationally representative audience of adults over 18 via the Zappi platform. The global sample size included 2.000 respondents in the US and UK.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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