Retail goes Metaverse loopy, however 85 p.c of Gen Z are “detached” to manufacturers’ digital presence, in accordance with a research

Retail might be crazy about gaming and all things right now, but if the incoming consumer demographic – and certainly the most tech-savvy generation – isn’t entirely troubled by the frenzy, then what is there?

While the metaverse is decidedly new to mainstream talk, and this 3D interactive web is still a long way off, most brands and retailers are sensibly trying to partake in what, according to a March study by Citi GPS, costs $8 trillion to $13 Dollars could be trillions of ways to come by 2030.

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“Retailers see so much potential in it [the] Metaverse because it can expand their personality in really interesting ways,” Melissa Wong, co-founder and CEO of Zipline, told WWD. “What we’ve seen from the data is that although there is awareness, a lot of people don’t really understand it. Many people of all generations say that gaming is the main reason to attend, so there is an evolution of what the metaverse will mean for people and especially in terms of retail.”

As with many things in the fashion industry, it can be worth examining the nuances of demand for these virtual realities more closely before dishing out offers that could end up falling flat while the race for first, next, or most popular place ensues.

Especially when 85 percent of Gen Z respondents said they were “indifferent” to brands present in the metaverse, according to a new study published Thursday by operations platform Zipline.

Additionally, 80 percent of Gen Z said they are “familiar” with the Metaverse, but only more than half (51 percent) have engaged with it. Millennials, on the other hand, have higher levels of familiarity (84 percent) and much lower levels of engagement (37 percent).

And yet, 83 percent of all generations of the 600 people Zipline surveyed said the primary reason for their participation in the Metaverse was gaming. So what’s the point for those who don’t put on headsets and change their avatar’s outfit to suit their mood or the latest luxury brand drop?

The story goes on

It turns out to be a hybrid of IRL in-store experiences that bring a mixed-reality virtual element to shopping. In other words, the ones that can still offer the benefits of shopping but are artfully blended with the fun and floating reality of Metaverse technology. As many as 42 percent of respondents in the Zipline survey said they’ve used the Metaverse to shop (although the results don’t specify whether those purchases were virtual or physical items) at brands like PacSun, Nike, and Shop Alo Yoga, among others.

When asked what other offers they would like to see from retailers in the Metaverse, 23 percent of Gen Z and 24 percent of Millennials said they would be interested in exclusive product announcements and perks.

“Retail brands just haven’t gotten it right for all types of consumers,” Wong said. “And the Metaverse isn’t just about gaming, it’s about having this cohesive network that’s really focused on connection. And what’s really interesting about retail brands is that many brands thrive on the foundation of connection.

“When I think of the Metaverse, you have to learn from incremental changes, you can’t just start and exit. It will go around testing, learning, adapting, seeing what resonates with consumers, and figuring out how to apply the metaverse to my specific brand? And how do my consumers want to interact with me with it?”

According to Wong (PacSun is one of Zipline’s customers), PacSun has had some success mixing IRL and virtual experiences with its PacWorld. PacWorld is a virtual mall on Roblox that, as PacSun co-CEO Alfred Chang said when the news broke in March, “combines imagination with the traditional feel of a store.” Players can design and develop their own shopping malls, choose shops, earn virtual income and connect with other PacSun brand fans who are building their own shopping malls. They can also buy PacSun “fantasy” products like branded t-shirts and gold wings for their avatars.

According to Wong, Lululemon also seems to be on the right track between real-life and Metaverse branding.

In May, the company reportedly filed trademark applications for Metaverse retail stores, Metaverse exercise classes, and an online marketplace for virtual yoga equipment or related NFTs. It would be a way to continue the real-world community building that the brand has long been successful at through its in-store yoga classes, and it would further Lululemon’s ability to facilitate digital sweating, such as by adopting an interactive in-home -Fitness company mirror in 2020.

“We’re moving from an omnichannel approach to a connected commerce approach, which isn’t about having many channels, it’s about how the channels connect to each other and to the consumer in a truly integrated way,” Wong said . “If you think hybrid, I think there should be more focus there. I think there’s going to be a shift from omnichannel to connected commerce, which is really a thing, and I think Metaverse will play a part in that. As? What will be the best representation for this? Who knows.”


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