The metaverse is touted as a place where anything is possible; a 3D digital world where you can do everything as you would in the real world, and then some. People are paying attention to this new technology, with half of consumers surveyed in a recent PwC poll expressing excitement and 66% of businesses actively engaging.
While the buzz may be warranted, it’s important to realize the capabilities of the metaverse are still a work in progress. Businesses looking to capitalize on the metaverse have plenty of opportunities available to them, but success in this space requires cautious optimism and a strategic plan.
What Excites and What Worries Consumers About the Metaverse?
While 50% of consumers surveyed by PwC were enthusiastic about the metaverse, very few (8%) have a detailed understanding of it. This limited understanding, as well as concerns around privacy, lack of regulation, hacking, and the expense to participate, all weigh heavy on consumer minds. But consumers are optimistic that community rules, strict security protocols, and other protection measures will address these fears.
They're looking forward to exploring new places virtually and meeting new people. They embrace the idea of meeting with health care providers, customer service agents, and familiar brands in the metaverse.
When it comes to their careers, consumers are interested in virtual training, networking, and job hunting. The metaverse also entices them with immersive video games and other outlets to delight and entertain the imagination. Even shopping experiences can be improved, giving consumers the ability to try on clothing virtually before buying. So, how are businesses using the metaverse to meet the desires of these consumers?
How are Businesses Capitalizing on the Metaverse?
We are not yet at the point where the metaverse is completely immersive, seamless, or secure. This disruptive technology is still in its infancy in many ways. Still, companies are thinking ahead. Many are looking to hire people with metaverse-related skills, investing in relevant technology, conducting customer research to build use cases, and upskilling existing staff. Businesses are using what’s available to do things like:
- Provide onboarding and training
- Create virtual stores and try-before-you-buy experiences
- Establish virtual showrooms, offices, or entertainment venues
- Create virtual content and entertainment
- Offer virtual services, consultations, or experiences that cater to the metaverse community's needs and interests
- Integrating the metaverse into websites and mobile apps for more seamless customer experiences
- Using the metaverse as a platform for market research
- Selling digital versions of current merchandise
Big name companies are ramping up investment in the metaverse. Online shopping and e-commerce behemoth Shopify is investing heavily in the metaverse for AR shopping capabilities. Sony’s entertainment division is considering metaverse-related content for its PlayStation platform and other virtual experiences, and gaming giant Roblox already functions as a metaverse for user-generated games and experiences, attracting a large and diverse user base, especially among younger audiences.
What You Need to Know About Investing in the Metaverse
Whether you’re an enterprise organization or a small start-up, there are risks and considerations to a metaverse strategy. Here are a few key things to know:
There are diverse investment opportunities.
The metaverse offers a wide range of investment opportunities, including companies developing VR/AR hardware and software, virtual real estate, digital currencies, gaming platforms, virtual events, and social experiences. Consider your investment goals and risk tolerance to determine the most suitable areas for you.
You should expect a measure of volatility and speculation.
The metaverse is a rapidly evolving and speculative field. As such, it may experience significant volatility in valuations and hype-driven price swings. Be prepared for short-term fluctuations and consider a long-term investment approach.
The highest ROI comes from building on what you have.
For the highest returns in the metaverse, stay true to your brand presence. Rethink and enhance the experiences you already have, for example adding token-gated communities as a perk of your loyalty program.
Regardless of what you build on, make sure it’s relevant and useful to your customer base. Products and experiences should be unique to the metaverse and provide enduring value - ones that individuals, communities, or companies will repeatedly turn to for information, services, entertainment, and convenience.
It’s also wise to consider how your metaverse investment will align with customer values. Is this an important step in cutting your carbon footprint? Is it a necessary innovation to improve the future of healthcare?
There are regulatory considerations to the metaverse.
The regulatory environment around the metaverse and digital assets is still evolving. Different countries may have varying rules and regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, virtual assets, and digital ownership. Stay informed about the legal aspects of your investments.
Diversification is key for long-term benefits.
As with any investment strategy, diversification is crucial. Spread your investments across various metaverse-related assets and industries to reduce the impact of any single investment's performance.
Also keep in mind that the metaverse works with many specialized technologies, but it doesn’t always need them. For example, cryptocurrencies work inside the metaverse, but credit cards can as well. Cryptocurrencies also exist outside the metaverse. You'll enjoy more flexibility and long-term advantages with the right organizational approach to metaverse technology.
Driving Metaverse Success Long-Term
Businesses investing in the metaverse must look beyond the immediate benefits to envision how their investment may evolve with what’s to come. Gathering data, expanding brand offerings, and crafting innovative e-commerce experiences are a launch point for the fully immersive, interoperable environment the metaverse will become in years to come. Truly capitalizing on the metaverse will take vision and a long-term strategy.