When Facebook rebranded its overarching company name to Meta, it catapulted the metaverse into the spotlight. But while information about this virtual world becomes more accessible, enthusiasm for its potential remains mixed.
Meta's launch provided a pivotal moment for the metaverse, which is now described as the future of technology and human connectivity. Research from our new report, Immaterial World, has found that despite its growing traction and consumers' heightened interest in what the metaverse could look like, both awareness and understanding of the concept differ across markets.
At a global level, many influential commentators expect the tech to transcend social media platforms and virtual gaming. However, for the general public, levels of understanding of the metaverse and its capabilities differ between regions.
In the UK, we are only just starting to see mentions of the metaverse pop up more frequently in the debate over the future of work. Compare this to an Eastern market such as China, and there is a much greater level of understanding – and excitement – about what the metaverse could mean for different industries.
A large proportion of metaverse commentary in the West focuses on brand collaborations – such as the recent Burberry launch within Minecraft and Gucci's partnership with Roblox. This has led some consumers to see the metaverse as a fad, especially within the retail and customer goods industries. However, you could also argue that seeing well-known brands openly commit to including the metaverse within their strategies demonstrates the increasing significance of this virtual world.
This is particularly true for sectors such as live entertainment where the possibilities for virtual shows or performances could offer opportunities for much broader audiences and bigger revenues.
However, some markets still hesitate about the concept of the metaverse. Countries that have only begun to hear about the metaverse since the launch of Meta have had much less time to adjust to the idea. And there's a clear connection between levels of understanding of the metaverse and enthusiasm.
So how will consumers respond? It is their understanding and appetite for the metaverse which will drive demand, innovation and investment. With Western countries having had less exposure to the metaverse, there's a need for education on its potential. Without this, there's a danger that Western economies will be left lagging behind markets that have been building metaverse strategies for much longer.
Consumer concerns need to be addressed to avoid the economic implications of metaverse reluctance, the heightened nervousness around how the metaverse will impact identity theft, privacy and security and fraud for example. Organisations must keep these attitudes in mind when deploying strategies.
Our new report, 'The Immaterial World', expands on these themes with a detailed look at the potential of the metaverse based on the views of consumers from across the world, and provides recommendations to help businesses develop their metaverse strategies.
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