Metaverse Gen Z

Research Shows Consumers Believe Metaverse Will Be Mainstream in 5 Years

The metaverse will continue to become more mainstream in the coming years, and it presents a unique value proposition for retail to embrace.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
Elizabeth Christenson profile picture
a person holding a cell phone
Already, nearly half of consumers (47%) who are dabbling in the metaverse are buying virtual items or finding inspiration for purchasing a physical product.

Brands that are expected to lead the charge in building out a truly interconnected metaverse estimate that it will not be completed for at least a decade. However, consumers’ expectations appear to be several years ahead, according to San Francisco-based Talkdesk’s “Connecting in the Metaverse” report that surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers ages 16 and older. More than one-third of those surveyed (34%) believe the metaverse will be mainstream within the next five years. 

Already, nearly half of consumers (47%) who are dabbling in the metaverse are buying virtual items or finding inspiration for purchasing a physical product. Consumer expectations around these digital worlds are high though:

  • More than half (51%) of consumers expect customer service to be better in the metaverse. 
  • Nearly a third (32%) believe these immersive environments will provide less frustration and anxiety than calling and talking to a contract center agent.
  • More than one in four consumers envision the metaverse as making it easier to access product or brand information (27%), 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%).

Of those who have visited the metaverse, respondents either “agree” or “strongly agree” with these sentiments:

  • 62%: The metaverse is overhyped.
  • 79%: I liked the brands/products available in the metaverse because I found real-world products to buy.
  • 80%: I liked the items and products available for purchase in the metaverse.
  • 85%: The metaverse lived up to my expectations.

Shopping Habits

a person looking at the camera
Women are more likely to use the metaverse as a virtual showrooms

While the majority of consumers have visited a metaverse-like platform recently, it’s the digital natives who tend to participate most.

  • Men (73%) are more likely than women (62%) to visit these destinations.
  • Millennials (75%) and Gen Z (64%) are heading there more often than baby boomers (45%).
  • 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% vs.18% for men).
  • Men are slightly more likely than women to make actual purchases in the metaverse and tend to spend on virtual items/products, like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) (15% men vs. 12% women) or clothing for a virtual avatar (17% men vs. 16% women).


Gaming in the metaverse
Nearly half (44%) of all Gen Z men play games in the metaverse.

Gaming, one of the most widely available activities in the metaverse, is the preferred activity of choice for Gen Z, which at 38% is the only cohort to select this as the top activity. Nearly half (44%) of all Gen Z men play games there — the highest response of any group.  

Social Well-being

In addition to browsing, shopping and gaming, 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%) of consumers feel separated from family and friends due to the pandemic.
  • Nearly half (49%) of consumers view a fully-built, unified metaverse as a fertile landscape for growing relationships and deepening connections.
  • For baby boomers, virtual travel plans to the metaverse environment center primarily around socializing with friends (39%).
  • Close to one-third of consumers (32%) are drawn by the possibility of finding new and more thrilling experiences.

“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,” said Shannon Flanagan, vice president of retail and consumer goods, Talkdesk, in a release. “Some are even dating in these digital environments. For consumers, the metaverse holds promise for near-limitless, out-of-this-world experiences and connecting in new and different ways.”

Elizabeth Lafontaine

RL Pro Analyst Take: 

When it comes to the future relationship between the retail industry and the metaverse, there are some natural connection points that may help the two grow together. As the consumer grapples with the idea of how to spend discretionary income and the balance of spend on tangible vs. intangible items, the metaverse may present retailers with a new entry point for new and existing customers. The metaverse could prove to be a great avenue for retailers to create experiences and community for consumers. Think about these applications for product launches, virtual in-store events or post-purchase services. The metaverse could also serve as an extension of the physical in-store experience that the consumer can access even if they live further away from a physical store location or after a visit. From a product perspective, the metaverse presents new opportunities for retail to expand into digital offerings that expand upon traditional product categories. Think about what retailers could create in a virtual world for consumers where shelf space and shipping costs no longer pose logistical challenges? The metaverse creates a natural space for collaborations and limited-edition collections to live on for the consumer. As highlighted above, one caveat for retailers to remember is that engagement differs between female and male shoppers. Retailers may need to focus on physical and digital product congruence for female buyers while male shoppers may want digital-only exclusives such as NFTs. As consumers have shown, there is a belief that the metaverse will continue to become more mainstream in the coming years, and it presents a unique value proposition for retail to embrace.