Meet the metaverse generation: What consumers want from the metaverse
Who makes up APAC’s Metaverse Generation and what do marketers need to know about them?
A new survey by Yahoo uncovers crucial insights on what consumers in Asia Pacific want from the metaverse. The survey — the largest consumer study on the metaverse in APAC — covered 15,000 respondents across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The study found a significant 73% of APAC consumers are aware of the metaverse, which has entered the mainstream in the region. Digital natives in APAC lead the way, with 66% of APAC Millennials and Gen Z looking forward to the metaverse — together they make up the “Metaverse Generation.”
However, as a key finding of the survey shows, these user groups diverge in how they imagine the metaverse and what they expect from it, with surprising differences in how they view virtual social communities, avatars, immersive entertainment and creative freedom.
“There has been a lot of hype about the potential of the metaverse, but very little is known about what consumers expect," says Zoe Cocker, Director of Innovation and Creative Studio at Yahoo.
"This study has powerful signals for marketers on what users care about — the building blocks to connect with core audiences / niche consumer groups in the metaverse,” she says.
“The report uncovers the heart of the metaverse for consumers by country. This hyperlocal level of detail and insights goes beyond wider trends you are seeing in the press, making them actionable for brands wanting to build in this space and create real value for divergent audiences.”
5 key findings from the report offers vital cues to APAC marketers:
#1: Gen Z and Millennials want distinctly different things from the metaverse
Marketers will need to tailor their approaches for differences in the Metaverse Generation.
Gen Z is looking forward to building social connections in the metaverse, the chance to break the rules, become rich and make their personal dreams come true. Equity and diversity is important for this group, which believes that everyone owns equal opportunities in the metaverse.
Cues for marketers — what matters to Gen Z:
1: Virtual Communities: They want to build social circles different from their existing one in the real world,
2: Digital Avatars: They value the chance to show their uniqueness and meet new friends through their avatar,
3: Gen Z wants “full customisation,” with the ability to create and freedom to build spaces, characters and items.
For Millenials, the metaverse is about enhancing and upgrading experiences -- a space to innovate, create life-like interactions and experiences, diversify and enrich human connection.
Cues for marketers — what matters to Millennials:
1: They want immersive experiences, with lifelike interactions for entertainment,
2: Digital avatars are a way for them to facilitate these interactive experiences,
3: Millennials are open to transactions and economic activities in the virtual world.
A hobby in the Metaverse? Millennials and Gen Z have different approaches
The study shows Millennials would take a hobby they enjoy in real life and enhance their experience in the metaverse. Take motorbike racing, for example. A millennial who loves motorbikes in the real world will collect two virtual bikes in the metaverse, inviting other biker friends on a virtual road trip. A Gen Z user, meanwhile, may not follow motorbike racing in the real world, but would go all out virtually — creating a “dream character”, building the identity and reputation of a racer, even an income, entirely in the metaverse.
#2: Different realities for digital avatars
Gen Z and Millennials think differently about digital avatars. Gen Z creates digital avatars with their “true appearances,” expressing their uniqueness through styling hair, makeup, apparel and accessories. Millennials, however, prefer avatars “totally different from their current appearance,” preferring large-scale embellishing and enhancements.
Cues for marketers
For Gen Z, free creation is important. The study shows “customisation” is the most important factor for more than 90% of Gen Z, when creating their avatar. For Millennials, their avatars include wearing or using real-world branded apparel or accessories or are enhanced with skills they lack in real life.
#3: The appeal of digital assets
The report shows one-third of Millennials and Gen Z in APAC have embraced virtual collectables — 31% of the metaverse generation in APAC have already studied NFTs, and 9% have purchased NFTs.
Cues for marketers
Artworks, profile pictures, gaming goods, limited-edition cards, videos, and music pieces are types of NFTs the Metaverse Generation pays attention to. Owning NFTs is more than an investment; it can allow a person to become a member of a group or give them access to a certain community.
Consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore are most drawn to NFTs, compared to other APAC countries — half of the metaverse generation in Hong Kong have researched NFTs, and 14% have made NFT purchases!
#4: Brands in the metaverse
The report found APAC consumers are very receptive to brands applying the metaverse to marketing or advertising campaigns — nearly 60% of the metaverse generation said they would like to know more about a brand venturing into the metaverse and pay more attention to its events or products.
Cues for marketers
Yahoo research shows that the earlier a brand reaches consumers in the metaverse, the easier it will be to gain opportunities and become attractive to them.
#5 Needed: A safer and accessible metaverse
Just like in the real world, safety and data security remain a top concern for consumers in the metaverse — 62% of APAC consumers said they worried about “fraud” and “the inability to distinguish truth from falsehood”. Privacy and safety were also a top concern, with 61% saying it would be harder to protect privacy and personal information in the metaverse. The “absence of moral and legal norms” was also a concern for 57% of respondents.
Accessibility is also important when it comes to metaverse adoption, with APAC consumers citing “too expensive” and “not having the technology” as two of the top five barriers deterring them from participating in the metaverse.
Cues for marketers
Given the anonymity, lax regulations, and lack of accountability in the metaverse, ensuring transparency, accessibility and prioritising user protection will be key to addressing consumers’ concerns.
The Singapore Metaverse Generation: early adopters, NFTs, and gaming
Often a leading market for tech adoption, the survey found that the Singapore Metaverse Generation - Millennials and Gen Z - is ahead of the pack with their awareness and interest in the metaverse. 79% are aware of the metaverse compared to the APAC average of 73%, and 68% are looking forward to the metaverse, above the APAC average of 66%. Interestingly, the survey results showed that Gen X and Baby Boomers in Singapore also indicate a higher likelihood of adoption with 59% and 53%, respectively, citing that they are looking forward to the metaverse compared to the APAC average of 51% and 41%.
The Singapore Metaverse Generation displays one of the highest NFT interest and adoption, coming in second behind Hong Kong. Over one-third (37%) have experience with NFTs, and 12% have purchased NFTs, which is higher than the APAC average of 31% and 9%, respectively. They are enthusiastic about NFT products, with the most browsed or purchased categories led by artistic paintings, followed by game items, limited edition cards, and virtual profile pictures/avatars; in the future, they would be interested in buying NFTs that are popular on social media, display or show off their status, give them exclusive rights or membership, include well-known intellectual property (IP), and collaborations with famous brands.
For the Singapore Metaverse Generation, gaming is an important aspect. As a prelude to the metaverse, 54% of Millennials and 53% of Gen Z in Singapore have already experienced virtual gaming and played immersive open-world video games, such as Minecraft, Roblox, Sandbox, and Fortnite. These open-world video games allow them to explore, create personal spaces and interact with others, and they want more - ranking “more immersive gaming experiences” as one of their top three aspects of the metaverse that they look forward to.