Nearly Half of Consumers Haven’t Heard of the Metaverse

The metaverse is one of the biggest buzz words of 2022, but nearly half of consumers haven’t even heard of it. As more retailers and brands jump into the metaverse with their own experiences, the question remains if the trend is overhyped?

That’s what a report from Commerce Next explored, leaning on two consumer surveys that revealed what about the metaverse and social commerce is just PR, and what represents real growth opportunity. 

The metaverse, defined as a 3D version of the internet, has most widely appealed to gamers. However, adoption by the majority of consumers is still far off. The metaverse includes augmented reality (like Snap filters), NFTs and immersive gaming experiences like Twitch, the report noted. Many brands and retailers have already created a presence on metaverse virtual worlds, such as Roblox, Fortnite or The Sandbox. Unfortunately, retailers can’t reach consumers on the metaverse until they actually plug in for the first time. 

There is still an opportunity at this time for retailers in the metaverse, with virtual game worlds now attracting at least half a billion monthly active users. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed consumers online faster than ever before. Still, there is huge room for growth on the metaverse.

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“Despite the pandemic driving most age groups into digital spaces of all kinds to satisfy work and social needs, almost half of the consumers (48%) polled in this survey hadn’t yet heard of the term ‘metaverse,’” the report stated. “Only 5% of consumers surveyed are enthusiastic users, with the remaining 47% only vaguely familiar with the term and still in the dark on how to use it.”

Other shopping methods, such as live streaming, are also slowly catching on, which could serve as entry points to the metaverse. Overall, awareness of the metaverse is “low and confusion is high,” the report found. Part of that confusion may be due to the broadness of the term “metaverse.” In fact, the word may mean different things to different users. Plus, some gamers who use a virtual reality headset may have already entered the metaverse without even realizing it.

When it comes to some of the most popular metaverse platforms, 82% of consumers said they aren’t using them yet. Plus, the majority of Roblox users are 16 and younger. Just 18% of survey respondents said they were using virtual worlds regularly. Surprisingly, while Millennials were most familiar with the term metaverse, they were the least likely to take part (19%). Gen Z were the most active users, at 26%.

At this point, consumers are mostly using virtual worlds for gaming, and retailers are jumping into the metaverse to sell virtual goods and merchandise for users to outfit their avatars. There is some business to be had, as well, as 38% of those in the 40- to 49-year-old demographic taking part in the metaverse do currently shop there as well.

“In a more promising twist for retailers, when asked about shopping-related activities within future Metaverse visits, consumers reported the most interest in buying real-world products (41%),” the report found. “This direction bodes well for retailers and companies alike who aspire to sell phygital goods (real-world products for purchase in the metaverse), like StockX with their sneaker NFTs.”