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Eight in 10 now interested in buying in the metaverse, and half may buy virtual clothes to wear there: study

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More than eight in 10 shoppers are now interested in buying products in the metaverse, a study suggests.

Accenture questioned more than 11,000 adults in 16 countries including the UK in February 2022 and found that 64% had already bought virtual goods or taken part in a virtual experience or service in the last year. That figure is expected to rise, with 83% showing interest in buying products via the metaverse.

Four in 10 (42%) said they had visited a retailer virtually in order to get advice, pay or browse a product range when looking to buy a physical item – and 56% plan to in the next year. Millennials are still more likely to have already visited a retailer online (51%) or be planning to do so (61%).

More than half (51%) are interested in shopping for digital clothes to wear in a virtual environment in the next year, the study found, while 39% of consumers have bought clothes or accessories for an avatar or for themselves.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2022 report, Meet Me in the Metaverse: The continuum of technology and experience reshaping business, also finds that more than half (55%) of respondents agreed that more of their lives and livelihoods were moving into digital spaces.

Business buy-in

The study also questioned more than 4,650 executives and directors from 35 countries working across 23 industries to understand how technology is developing in their industries. Most (90%) of the retail executives who took part expect that the boundaries of the virtual world will shift as it becomes more real – and easier to move between virtual and physical worlds. Seven in 10 (72%) global executives expect the metaverse to have a positive effect on their organisations, with 45% believing it will be breakthrough or transformational.

“The metaverse era has begun, and so for consumer-facing companies, it’s not about deciding if they’re going to go into the metaverse, it’s deciding how,’’ says Jill Standish, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s retail industry group. “Retailers and brands will need to reimagine and experiment with what new immersive and consultative experiences could mean to consumers. In addition to new opportunities to sell, the metaverse can also help build loyalty through experiences that go beyond just buying a product. For instance, retailers can create a personalised experience by offering a live-stream shopping event where customers can sit next to a brand ambassador, and then immediately be able to step into a virtual dressing room where they can try something on, add it to their cart, and check out.”

The survey also found that half (50%) of respondents said that they are buying, or would be interested in buying, a travel experience such as a sightseeing tour or hotel stay. That’s higher for millennials (55%) than for baby boomers (29%). More than half said that they are buying, or interested in buying, tickets to a concert, a show or sporting event taking place in a virtual world.

Emily Weiss, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s Travel industry group, says the metaverse is not intended to replace physical travel, but provide options such as sitting in a virtual first-class seat or walking around a hotel resort or room.

Oliver Wright, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s consumer goods and services industry group, says: “In a world where digital has become as important as the physical, consumer-facing companies are challenged to create, shape and market products, services and experiences that can move between the physical and virtual worlds. And they need to do this while coordinating a network of experts, skills, and technologies to help make it happen. While commercial applications of metaverse are still in their infancy, they will develop quickly because consumers already expect it.

“Successful consumer brands will be those that collaborate with consumers and the metaverse eco-system to create digital products and services that meet these rapidly emerging needs.”

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