According to the findings in a recent global survey from Accenture, the growing use of immersive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality will spur consumer-facing companies, such as those in retail, consumer goods, and travel, to increase investment in new capabilities and experiences to blend physical and virtual worlds, or risk being left behind.
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While 64 percent of consumers had already purchased a virtual good or participated in a virtual experience or service in the previous year, the number is anticipated to climb as 83 percent express interest in making transactions via the metaverse. In addition, 42 percent of poll respondents stated they have visited a virtual retailer to receive advice, make a payment, or browse a product selection when shopping for a real item, with 56 percent planning to do so in the coming year. These percentages rise to 51 percent and 61 percent among millennials, respectively.
More than half (55 percent) of customers think that more of their lives and livelihoods are migrating into digital spaces, according to Accenture Technology Vision 2022, “Meet Me in the Metaverse: The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business.” As a result, the vast majority of retail executives (90 percent) believe that leading firms will push the virtual world’s boundaries to make it more real, raising the demand for persistence and smooth transit between the digital and physical worlds. Furthermore, 72 percent of worldwide CEOs believe the metaverse will have a favorable impact on their businesses, with 45 percent believing it would be game-changing or revolutionary.
“The metaverse era has begun, and so for consumer-facing companies, it’s not about deciding if they are going to go into the metaverse, it’s deciding how,’’ said 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 personalized 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.”
In addition, half of customers stated they are purchasing or would be interested in purchasing a vacation experience such as a sightseeing tour or hotel stay. This number climbs to 55 percent among millennials, compared to 29 percent among baby boomers. 54 percent of customers indicated they are buying, or are interested in buying, tickets to a virtual world concert, show, or sporting event.
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Oliver Wright, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Services industry group said, “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.”