For most of my clients, I recommend being a “fast follower” of most technological advances. Time-consuming evaluations are difficult unless you have vast resources to place bets in multiple places. I would rather let others make all the mistakes and sort things out for me! So where should we be on the metaverse adoption curve?
There was a recent article on the GWI site with research that can help guide our decisions about early adoption versus being a fast follower. Let’s plow through five key trends that may indicate whether you should be on the metaverse now, or sometime in the near future …
Let’s start with the obvious. Young people love being online — 42% of Gen Z and millennials are interested in making the metaverse their primary hangout.
It makes sense. They spend significantly more time online than their older counterparts – using social media, playing video games, and watching online TV in particular. They’re also just more likely to know just what the metaverse is, so it’s safe to assume that the first virtual spaces will be populated by more consumers in these generations.
By comparison, only 20 percent of Gen X and Boomers are interested in the metaverse right now. It will take some time to build applications and services with these generations in mind.
My prediction: Opportunities for entertainment like virtual concerts will bring in the older generation. Also, this is an opportunity for Boomers to relate to kids and grandkids through online events and games, even over a distance.
The research shows that more than half the people in nine survey countries prefer their online lives to their real lives. This is certainly an outfall of the many stressful trends in the world right now. The priority for “pause” and mental health is a massive trend right now.
For people who prefer an online life to real life, the metaverse is a dream come true. There are so many great things you can do on the web to “get away.” The immersive experience of the metaverse will pull even more people in.
If you have a business focused on travel, escape, mental health, and generally calming people down, people are seeking escape through the metaverse.
While there’s a lot of focus on Meta’s project, China-based Tencent and other companies are working in this space too. Asia-Pacific could be a key growth market for the metaverse before it spreads worldwide. The reason is, two-thirds of the people in China and India responded that they are more comfortable with their online life compared to their real life.
By comparison, just one in five people in France and Germany prefer their online life over real life.
So where you live in the world might determine how fast people pile on to the metaverse.
A side comment … when most people prefer their online life to the real world, doesn’t that suggest a lot of trends on the horizon to get people more connected to life?
I recently did a little video explaining that the metaverse is already here, through platforms like Fortnite and Minecraft. These virtual spaces are molding our views of how the metaverse might work on a larger scale.
Among those metaverse-potential consumers highlighted in the research, nearly four in 10 visited Minecraft in the last month and three in 10 used Fortnite. Roblox is exploding as an entertainment channel, with a 28 percent increase in the number of 8-to-15-year-old gamers playing it since this time last year.
These young gamers are metaverse-ready and will easily adapt to emerging platforms. There will be multiple metaverses catering to specific audiences.
There are two competing visions for how to bring this about: One is decentralized, generous with property rights and new frontiers, interoperable, open, and owned by the communities that build and maintain it. The other vision — too familiar to many people today — is centralized, closed, subject to the whims of corporations; and often extracts painful economic rents from its creators, contributors, and inhabitants.
The folks at a16z provided this comparison:
I tend to believe the closed model will win, simply because I think history will repeat itself. Somebody has to pay for all this stuff.
The research revealed the most popular metaverse activities of early adopters. Percent of early adopters who wish to do this in the metaverse:
Not sure I understand the appeal of watching TV through a headset versus my big screen TV … but OK, I’m willing to learn! The point is, these are the existing activities most likely to migrate to the metaverse quickly.
Obviously, the metaverse is a huge opportunity for entertainment and retail brands, but it can’t just be a shopping mall. The challenge is to build a virtual store that offers more than products. Consumers will need to be attracted to experiences or they will get bored. The key to metaverse success might be provoking enough curiosity to get people to enter your store.
You need to begin moving to the metaverse now if your business is targeting young people, gamers, and early tech adopters. Retail and entertainment companies should already be there. Some countries like China and India may move more quickly than the U.S. and European countries due to a preference for their online lives.
We don’t have to wait for some metaverse of the future. Immersive games like Fortnite already provide a glimpse of what we’ll need to do to succeed.
Competing in the metaverse will be as much about experiences as the products you’re selling. The entertainment value of any brand will be critically important, suggesting that “content marketing” in the metaverse may mean immersive stories and adventures that attract consumers to your metaverse space.
How well will a copywriter or YouTube creator fit in these new worlds? The metaverse will offer amazing new opportunities for creators if they adapt and have the right skill sets.
Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.