The metaverse is here. Which has many companies asking some fundamental questions. For starters:
- What exactly is it?
- How does it affect our business?
- Isn’t it just the latest buzzword that will fade away in a year or two?
Sure, the whole metaverse idea can feel a bit faddish—an “augmented business reality,” even. But it also is a real strategic opportunity that every company would be wise to evaluate, as we outline in our thorough new report on the metaverse’s impact on the consumer world.
The trends are compelling: A high level of consumer awareness, rapid advances in technologies that support immersive new customer experiences, and real money already being spent today. Indeed, for many companies, the better questions to ask might be: What do our customers want from us in the metaverse? And are they already there?
The (virtual) landscape
Let’s start with some definitions. The metaverse is an evolving environment that blends a consumer’s physical and virtual worlds together to create dynamic new ways for people to interact. It’s supported by a collection of innovative technologies that are part of the emerging web3 platform, including decentralized blockchain systems, digital currencies and tokens, user-owned data, and the hardware and software that deliver immersive virtual reality experiences.
Gaming has been the metaverse’s leading edge to date, but other consumer experiences are rapidly gaining traction—and especially following the pandemic-driven push for all things virtual. In fact, two-thirds of the people in our recent KPMG Consumer pulse survey said they were familiar with the metaverse on some level, and that was especially true for Millennials (81 percent) and Gen Z (86 percent).
But beyond just awareness, nearly half of all respondents believe the metaverse today can provide experiences with friends that are just as meaningful as in-person interactions. That might mean shopping in virtual stores, live entertainment, socializing, education, the workplace and more. Imagine meeting up with friends from across the country to watch the latest blockbuster in a virtual movie theater, for example, or working out with a group in a fitness class—all without leaving your home.
Technology advances and adoption will be essential to delivering those new consumer experiences. But much of that tech has already been established, including the software and hardware to support increasingly more dynamic levels of realities (virtual, augmented, extended). For example, a key indicator for metaverse adoption is how many people own equipment like virtual reality (VR) headsets. In our consumer survey, 30 percent of respondents said they own VR headsets today—a sizeable market share already for such a relatively new platform.
The percentage of Millennials who have some level of familiarity with the metaverse.
Percentage of survey respondents who own virtual reality headsets today.