Metaverse: What it is?
A Metaverse is a solution where digital representations of things, places, and people will exist in digital space. More concisely, it is a virtual world where digital objects will replace real people (Joshbersin 2021).
“A Zooby Second Life avatar” (Courtesy Carrie Tatsu)
Metaverse makes the work of “bringing people together”. A few online solutions, such as Zoom or Google Meet, as well as Microsoft Teams, are part of the Metaverse, where you can have a live video, avatar, or static image. Moreover, Metaverse blends the concept of immersive technologies into people representation, be it for visiting an office floor, conducting a meeting, training session, sales process, marketing, or advertising, to name a few.
Now the question is how it affects consumers and their purchase behavior. According to a recent report from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, only 38% of worldwide customers are aware of the notion, which highlights the merging of digital and physical realms, even after the latest buzz about “Metaverse” by Mark Zukerberg by naming his company Meta. The same report also says that most consumers depend on technological solutions for their purchases.
Marketers will now be curious and also anxious about what Metaverse brings to the table for consumers in the future. Change in consumer behavior is currently very dynamic, necessitating marketers to react quickly to the changes. Marketers need to be very cautious and analyze consumer responses and should also look into the future by travelling through time. Forbes (2019) mentioned that “Smartphones are now the remote control of our digital lives and they have tipped the scales of power in favor of the consumer forever”.
So when we come back to Metaverse, it is going to disrupt consumer behavior to a large extent. The Metaverse promise is to provide a larger crossover of our digital and physical lives in wealth, sociability, work, shopping, and entertainment, whether in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or just on a screen.
Just think about the OLA app informing you about how far the cab is based on your location data, or how OTT platforms like Hotstar or Netflix provide you with suggestions based on your watch history. So basically, Metaverse is the evolution of Web 3.0.
John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, which is a manufacturer of video game engines, says that “You’ve got your goggles on, 10 years from now, but they’re just a pair of sunglasses that happen to have the ability to bring you into the Metaverse experience,” Also he says that “You’re walking by a restaurant, you look at it, the menu pops up. What your friends have said about it pops up.” These might be the future after Metaverse.
There is real money involved in Metaverse, where through playing block chain based games, users will earn money. As a result, the money earned can also be used to buy new products. But it will not help to cover the disparity in the economic situation.
But from a marketer and consumer point of view, it is going to be a great platform, more than social networks, where marketers can persuade consumers through various different immersive tools. The expectation of the Metaverse is that it will change the way consumers behave.
In a nutshell, we can say that Metaverse is a great innovation for both consumers and marketers, but there is a need for creating a holistic system that is free from fake images and messages, data privacy and rights, and other cyber security elements. The consumer will have more power in the future courtesy of the Metaverse.