The metaverse is one of the most popular terms or buzzwords today and is touted as a game-changing technology for the world. However, a new global study showed that while the awareness of the term ‘metaverse’ has increased in the last six months or so, the understanding of the concept among customers remains significantly low.
The Wunderman Thompson Intelligence report titled ‘New Realities: Into the Metaverse and Beyond’ claimed that only 15% of the people actually have a proper understanding of the metaverse concept and can explain it to someone else. This indicates that familiarity with the concept does not necessarily equate to understanding.
The knowledge gap stems from a lack of a shared definition of what constitutes the metaverse, the report said, describing it, at the most basic level, as “an extension of our lives enhanced by technology.” Apart from this, different companies using the term in different context (and some doing it loosely) to any virtual reality (VR) tools also confuse people and make it lose its relevance, it said.
Good news however is, the awareness of the term metaverse has more than doubled in less than a year or so. While less than a third (32%) had heard of the term in July 2021, when Wunderman Thompson Intelligence published a similar report in September 2021. Almost three quarters (74%) had heard of the term by March 2022, the study said.
Much of this awareness also came from rebranding of social media giant Facebook to Meta last year, which promised enhance social experience to customers, the study noted.
But some have really gone deeper into the concept. Of those who were able to explain what the metaverse is, 74% described it as the future, 72% as the next big thing, 68% as the next internet, and 66% as life-changing.
In an encouraging sign for brands, 89% of consumers surveyed said that advertising would be an industry impacted by the metaverse. Other top-ranking categories included retail (86%), fashion (85%) and finance (82%), while food and beverage landed at the bottom of the list (74%).
However, other elements of the metaverse and the associated Web3 frontier, however, appear to be challenging for most people. Even non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that were once seen as an important method for brands to experiment with the metaverse appear to lose its shin owing to concerns round trust and security, the study said.
Around the concerns that respondents relate to the metaverse are children’s privacy (72%), adult privacy (69%), data protection (69%), children’s safety (66%) and bullying (57%), it said.
Despite certain challenges, the report noted that the metaverse can profoundly change the way companies and consumers interact with products, services, and each other.
Also, the fact that more people simply having heard the term does not knowing the use of metaverse in practice must not be taken with a ‘pinch of salt’. Academics and companies need to work together in reducing the knowledge gap. In fact, it can offer brands a wider opportunity to come up with new technologies require new strategies and methods to build and maintain trust and credibility, the study said.
A February 2022 Gartner report also noted that the metaverse has tremendous potential and will transform the way we live and work. The study predicted that the metaverse is where a quarter of us will be working, studying, shopping and socialising for at least an hour a day by 2026, and 30% of the world’s organisations will have metaverse products and services by then.