Marketers plot metaverse budgets, public still clueless

metaverseMarketers might be gearing up to plough their budgets into the metaverse but they admit consumer education is needed, with the vast majority insisting they will work harder to educate the public on its benefits.

So says Sitecore’s 2022 Perceptions of the Metaverse report, which quizzed almost 700 global marketers (including over 300 based in the UK) and 2,001 consumers about their perception of the metaverse and how it will change interactions between brands and consumers.

Many brands are intending to place a large investment into the metaverse, with 50% of marketers planning to allocate more than 10% of their budget to the metaverse throughout 2023.

In fact, almost all marketers (91%) will be investing a portion of their total budget into plans for the metaverse over the next five years. An impressive 81% are also creating a new role in their team for a metaverse coordinator and the same amount believe there will widespread metaverse adoption in the next five years.

Two-in-five marketers have already witnessed a compelling metaverse use case that could help drive ROI in their firms.

However, although Facebook parent Meta has brand recognition, no single metaverse player has yet established a dominant foothold. When asked about their preferred metaverse providers, marketers said Meta (22%), Minecraft (9%), then Fortnite, Sandbox, Decentraland and Roblox with 6%. However, almost half of marketers (45%) don’t have a preference for where they will build their metaverse projects.

And although many marketers see the metaverse as the ‘next big thing’, with 67% expecting consumers to spend more their than they currently do on social media, there is acknowledgment that consumers will require education.

Almost two-thirds (65%) feel that consumers don’t fully understand the concept of the metaverse and only 30% of consumers currently class themselves as ‘metaverse enthusiasts’. However, as with any new technology, there is an adoption period, so this is likely to change in the coming months and years.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, there is a clear indication from consumers that they may be more willing to turn to alternative ways of shopping in order to cut costs. In fact, 58% say they’d be more inclined to stay at home and purchase through the metaverse if it meant less expenditure on travel.

Other experiences consumers would like to see include having the ability to shop with friends or a community that can share feedback on products (48%); getting access to new products and exclusive releases before their real-world launch (44%); engaging with a metaverse influencer before making purchases (28%); and allowing payment for products and services in cryptocurrency (14%).

Despite much enthusiasm, privacy and safety remain key for marketers and consumers alike. The data shows 73% of consumers express concern about the safety and privacy of their personal data and 61% say they would be less inclined to give up their personal information via the metaverse than they would be in person.

For marketers, privacy concerns centre around keeping consumers’ data secure (70%); brands sharing user data in virtual worlds (75%); brands developing intrusive content (75%); brands not monitoring bad actors that could compromise user safety and security (79%); brands targeting children with non-age-appropriate content (80%); brands fostering terrorist groups (65%); and brands creating biases that could lead to malicious or non-inclusive eco systems (71%).

Regulation has been hailed by most marketers as the way to combat these concerns, with 85% wanting to see regulation and legal standards for how brands can operate in the metaverse – 67% will be looking towards the Government for this guidance and 58% would welcome industry regulation.

Sitecore chief marketing officer Paige O’Neill commented: “Whilst the metaverse is still very much in development, the concept is already offering a real opportunity for brands to create better connections with their customers.

“When it comes to experiences in virtual worlds, we’re in entirely new and very exciting territory. Brands now have the ability to find new ways to impress and excite their customers, whether that be from having conversations with them via a metaverse influencer, offering them exclusive access or inviting them into your virtual store. And whilst there’s clear excitement around the possibilities for the metaverse, there is a greater need for further education on how exactly it’s all going to work.”

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