Retail in Asia


Decrypting the Metaverse: Chapter IV – APAC businesses in the Metaverse race

In the fourth installment in our series, market research provider Euromonitor shares some insights based on the company’s Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey. 

SEE ALSO: Decrypting the Metaverse: Chapter III-The future of offline stores and customer experience

According to Euromonitor’s digital survey, a third of businesses in APAC are planning to invest in augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) in the coming five years, just as consumers are already immersing themselves in technology to enhance their experiences. A third of APAC respondents said they have used AR or VR to enhance their shopping experience at least once per month which is higher than the worldwide average.

Replicating physical experiences online through AR/VR is expected to gain traction in APAC, with more than half of APAC industry professionals seeing or expecting a business impact in the coming year according to Euromonitor’s report. Investments in this space have increased, with luxury fashion companies and tech giants paving the way for accelerated mass adoption.  

Source: Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey (2021)
Businesses across industries fighting to enhance consumers’ Metaverse experience 

As brand equity becomes intricately linked with how tech-enabled brands are, businesses across industries are diving into the Metaverse scene through different avenues. For example, virtual showrooms that can replicate physical shopping journeys while enhancing the consumer journey with more immersive and engaging experiences in the Metaverse, encourage emotional and impulsive purchases. APAC businesses see opportunities in creating virtual showrooms capitalising on AR/VR capabilities, with 48 percent of APAC industry professionals expecting an impact in the coming year, according to Euromonitor’s report. 

While players from non-tech industries struggle to extract value from the AR/VR world and the Metaverse, luxury fashion players are ahead of their peers. Well-known assets platform Decentraland collaborated with curated NFT marketplace UNXD to run the Metaverse Fashion Week in late March with Selfridges, Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger participating. Replicating fashion week events from the physical world such as New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, there are immersive spaces and installations on top of runway shows for participants to enjoy. 

Comparable to the Metaverse Fashion Week, Korean tech conglomerate Samsung modelled their New York flagship in Decentraland for consumers across the globe to immerse themselves in the virtual experience. The brand’s metaverse store, Samsung 837x, allows consumers to test products, shop for Samsung electronics and earn or trade virtual Samsung avatars. The virtual store enabled Samsung to reach a wider audience and engage with consumers to reinforce their brand equity.  

Virtual tourism sees great potential in the Metaverse 

Immersive experience is a key feature in the Metaverse, meaning the travel and tourism industry also sees huge opportunities in this space. Travellers are keen to experience the real world, with 77 percent of travellers globally agreeing that they value real world experiences, according to Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Travel Survey.  

With travellers worldwide keen on tourism despite COVID travel restrictions, APAC cities have started to offer virtual tours of museums and landmarks. Historical South Korean landmarks such as the Seodaemun Prison History Hall have been replicated on the Metaverse platform Zepeto. Many of the prison’s features such as the cells and cafeteria were recreated in the prison’s era, allowing curious tourists to visit and experience the area with a level of detail that could not be found in the physical location. 

Similarly capitalising on the Metaverse under COVID restrictions, Hong Kong’s local theme park Ocean Park partnered with Metaverse gaming platform The Sandbox to become the first amusement park to go virtual. They are currently undergoing major changes in their business operations and strategies. This strategic pivot enables them to refashion engagement with tourists in its virtual theme park through immersive experiences and events, in line with their current major revamp in brand image. 

Chinese companies embrace cross-app functionality while preparing for the Metaverse 

Chinese companies are establishing their footholds in the “Meta-Race” as VR technology becomes more mainstream. For example, Tencent has started working on their Metaverse foundations by embedding the video game engine Unreal Engine into the well-known Chinese social media app QQ. This upgrade gives the QQ app the necessary specs in the future to host and expand any upcoming Metaverse functions.  

Chinese consumers are more familiar with the usage of AR/VR devices compared to the other APAC countries, as 58 percent of digital consumers in China have used AR/VR devices versus an APAC average of 53 percent according to Euromonitor’s Digital Survey. Therefore, Chinese tech companies are keen to leapfrog into the space ahead of their APAC peers.  

Source: Voice of the Consumer: Digital Survey (2021)

Apart from building its Metaverse foundations, Tencent is also aiming to break down the walls between China’s most popular social media apps by allowing WeChat users to link external shopping sites such as Alibaba and Taobao on their app, a function that was previously impossible. This contributes to the Chinese sentiment that every business can tap into and profit from the Metaverse and gave birth to the phrase “万物皆可园宇宙” (every business can tap into Metaverse technology) which has been trending on Chinese social media. It also shows that China is aiming to have multiple platforms that users can travel between seamlessly, thus giving them an easier time in the Metaverse as they only need a single user identification tool to enjoy all the benefits of the Chinese Metaverse. 

APAC Metaverse still in nurturing stage – but companies are increasingly able to extract value 

Adaptation of modern technology enhances brand equity. Swift moves in the luxury fashion, tourism and tech players to pivot towards the virtual world calls for attention. Thus, all types of businesses are moving towards marketing and monetising their brand, products, and services on the Metaverse. 42 percent of APAC industry professionals believe that AR/VR technology will impact their business in the next five years, according to Euromonitor’s Digital survey. This shows that a lot of companies are investigating potential applications to stay ahead of the technological curve, and that opportunities in the Metaverse can be capitalised on by a wide range of industries.  

SEE ALSO: Decrypting the Metaverse: Chapter II – The meta cheat sheet

While the market is currently in the nascent stages in terms of their ability to extract value from the Metaverse, current developments can help APAC businesses plan their next steps as to how more value can be extracted. Considering the current infrastructure on hand, APAC companies are well-positioned to lead this Metaverse movement and usher in a new technological era.  

Learn more about how companies are tapping into the Metaverse trend to enhance commerce experiences in the Top Five Digital Consumer Trends in 2022 webinar.