Facebook celebrated its 19th birthday in October. Since its birth in 2003, a lot has changed. Many argue these changes have been for the worse. Meta, its new rebranded entity, has seen negative headlines stack up recently over its shift in focus toward the metaverse. Poor financial results are worrying investors, and with a 52% annual drop in net profits, many are questioning Zuckerberg’s persistance in building out the virtual world.
Understanding the audience, creating the future
Despite pushback, Zuckerberg is not giving up on his metaverse vision. And the countless industry examples of other companies building out virtual experiences, such as Microsoft, Louis Vuitton and Nike, shows others are interested in experimenting in the space. So, how can companies build a metaverse that truly resonates with consumers?
Recent research shows the virtual world is here to stay, but it is essential to understand the differences in expectations across generations. For example, Gen Z (ages 16-24) are twice as likely as those aged 55+ to make a purchase in the metaverse. The key factor to entice young shoppers is the ability to virtually experience life-like versions of a product, such as seeing what a painting would look like in your home using augmented reality glasses. This would sway 54% of Gen Z shoppers to make a purchase.
Shoppers are more interested in a metaverse that benefits them in real life. While 60% of consumers aren’t yet interested in “purely virtual” offerings, 42% admit they are more likely to purchase after in-store AR experiences or VR try-ons. Efficiency is also critical. If the metaverse is to make money, it needs to be faster and slicker than alternative forms of shopping. Over half of consumers would purchase in the metaverse if they could buy and return products faster.
For the metaverse to gain popularity, Meta should focus on real-life benefits rather than driving consumers into 100% virtual experiences.
Product information is the catalyst
While it’s helpful to know what audiences want, delivering it is another proposition altogether. Businesses should look at Meta’s recent troubles as a sign to focus on what really matters – personalisation. Consumers are more inclined to invest in a metaverse that offers a personal touch. Product information is key to delivering this. In today’s era of competing channels, any retailer looking to succeed needs to optimise product data to deliver the exact information that consumers need on whatever platform they shop with. The same goes for the metaverse.
One small mistake in product information can ruin shopping experiences across ecommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. The stakes are even higher in the metaverse where people expect transactions to be faster and products to be more creative. In the real world, if you order a pair of sneakers but the product you receive doesn’t match the description, you’ll likely exchange them for a new pair or look for another brand. In the metaverse, if your digital sneakers don’t look the way they were originally described, you may abandon the virtual experience altogether. If retailers are to turn the metaverse into another arm of an omnichannel strategy, they must master product information in the virtual world.
And remember, product information is not limited to a price tag, item name and description. When you take a product into an entirely new dimension, that product’s dimensions matter too. What is the product’s resolution? Who was the digital creator? These are all details of product information that retailers need to communicate in the metaverse.
Mastering the flow of product information
Successfully portraying product information to consumers comes down to the level of control in managing the pathway product information takes as it moves between suppliers and buyers.
Managing the flow of product information in the metaverse takes on a whole new level of difficulty. However, with the right strategies in place to manage your data, controlling your commerce presence in the metaverse shouldn’t be any different than in the physical or digital world.
By combining a metaverse design that appeals to younger consumers, and provides ‘real-world’ benefits with seamless, technologically advanced methods to governing product information, the likes of Meta and its competitors can ensure their metaverse offerings don’t fall on deaf ears.