The concept of the metaverse is rooted in the development of shared digital realms within immersive virtual worlds.
Before its emergence, concepts like virtual reality (VR), social networking, and augmented reality (AR) laid the groundwork for envisioning interconnected digital spaces, shaping the landscape of virtual experiences and online communities. As digital technology rapidly progresses, the metaverse, intricately tied to Industry Revolution 4.0, has experienced a profound transformation surpassing its conventional roots in shared digital realms.
This evolution potentially signifies the onset of the Industry Revolution 5.0 era, characterized by an enhanced integration of smart technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI), further propelled by the influence and advancements of the metaverse.
This new iteration of the metaverse promises users an immersive experience, allowing them to inhabit three-dimensional virtual realms through personalised avatars. Experts anticipate that this evolution will bring transformative changes across various domains, including social media, e-commerce, professional life, education, communication, digital video games, culture, and the arts, as well as sports.
Metaverse and The Consumers
At the same time, the surge in metaverse-based impulse buying is driven by compelling factors. This includes a fascination with novelty and exploration, the allure of exclusivity, the impact of social connections, the yearning for customisation and personalisation, and the emotional engagement that arises from virtual experiences. Marketers can strategically leverage these elements by introducing concepts such as limited availability, special features, and unique virtual experiences to evoke impulsive buying behaviour.
A notable instance showcasing the rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) within the metaverse is a compelling example of this phenomenon. The fervour surrounding NFTs has fueled a notable increase in impulsive purchases by users. The intrinsic scarcity and exclusivity linked with NFTs significantly amplify the impulsive nature of purchasing decisions within the metaverse. This trend underscores the pivotal role of strategic marketing elements in fostering a vibrant and engaging consumer environment in virtual spaces.
Leading brands in the metaverse, such as Gucci and Burberry, have strategically aligned themselves with metaverse social platforms. These brands often foray into crafting NFT fashion items designed for in-game characters within the metaverse, highlighting a shift towards innovative virtual experiences. Consequently, brand strategists are diligently delving into the understanding of consumer behaviour and formulating effective marketing strategies within these digital realms. These strategies encompass evaluating the perceived value of digital fashion items, safeguarding brand reputations, orchestrating cohesive marketing campaigns, and attracting emerging consumer demographics—particularly the Gen Z cohort, poised to become the primary target audience, not just in virtual spaces but also in the physical world.
Despite being in its early stages, the metaverse presents boundless opportunities for marketers and brands to thrive, particularly by enhancing three critical touchpoints of the customer journey: uplifting spirits, fostering creativity, and motivating lifestyle choices.
Lifting the Spirits
Participating in purchasing activities, especially impulse buying, within the metaverse can amplify consumers’ joy and fulfilment, especially when the acquisitions align with their long-standing desires. This form of engagement not only mitigates stress and boredom but also cultivates a heightened sense of excitement and novelty in relation to the purchases, further elevating satisfaction. The spontaneity of such experiences is often reminiscent of the gratification derived from physical mall purchases, easily replicable within the expansive realm of the metaverse.
Consumers engrossed in metaverse transactions are often spurred by a desire for fresh discoveries. This can be in the form of delving into new things, places, hobbies, or styles. This motivation is rooted in their real-life experiences or aspirations that were once restricted. This curiosity propels them to effortlessly engage in learning and uncovering novel experiences within the metaverse, unburdened by societal limitations that might hinder such exploration. These constraints encompass societal norms, cultural expectations, financial boundaries, geographical hurdles, and other factors that could curtail one’s capacity to pursue specific interests or activities. The metaverse serves as a virtual realm, mirroring real-life experiences, where individuals can liberate themselves from these constraints and freely explore new dimensions of life.
When consumers succumb to the allure of impulse buying, this behaviour often imparts a sense of motivation associated with a perceived shift in lifestyle—transcending from a sedentary existence to one that is more vibrant and exhilarating. This inclination is particularly pronounced in the virtual realm, such as the metaverse, where concerns and constraints (e.g., societal norms, cultural expectations, and geographical boundaries) that individuals might face in the tangible world are lifted away. In this digital domain, consumers find a liberating space, untethered from real-world limitations, enabling them to explore a more carefree and exciting dimension of their lives.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus. Dr. Jee Teck Weng is a senior lecturer at the School of Business, Faculty of Business, Design, and Arts at Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org