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Accenture Finds Consumer Desire for ‘Virtual Living’ Is Gaining Traction

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While not long ago, the metaverse seemed a concept of the future, new research from Accenture reveals consumers might just be ready to engage now.

The company’s survey, which looked at a sample of more than 11,000 consumers across 16 countries, found that an impressive 64 percent of consumers have already purchased virtual goods or taken part in virtual experiences or services during the past year. However, an even greater 83 percent of respondents said they have an interest in making purchases in the metaverse.

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For 42 percent of respondents (51 percent of Millennials), this has meant visiting a retailer in the virtual world to get advice, make a payment or browse a product range when shopping for a physical item — an additional 56 percent of respondents (61 percent of Millennials) said they plan to do this in the next year.

With this in mind, Accenture said the findings indicate an opportunity to create a greater connection with consumers by building digital environments.

“The metaverse era has begun, and so for consumer-facing companies, it’s not about deciding if they’re going to go into the metaverse, it’s deciding how,’’ said Jill Standish, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s Retail industry group. “Retailers and brands will need to reimagine and experiment with what new immersive and consultative experiences could mean to consumers.”

Moreover, Standish said, “in addition to new opportunities to sell, the metaverse can also help build loyalty through experiences that go beyond just buying a product. For instance, retailers can create a personalized experience by offering a livestream shopping event where customers can sit next to a brand ambassador, and then immediately be able to step into a virtual dressing room where they can try something on, add it to their cart and check out.”

Put simply, virtual has become just as important as the physical. In addition to providing new ways for consumers to shop, virtual products and locations are providing potential growth opportunities across industries.

In fact, more than half of consumers surveyed (51 percent) said they are “interested in shopping for virtual fashion” — defined as digital-only clothes to wear in a virtual environment — next year. More than a third (39 percent) of consumers said they have already purchased virtual clothes or accessories for themselves or for an avatar in the past year.

Similarly, 38 percent of consumers said they have purchased makeup or hairstyling that can be applied to an avatar or virtually to themselves through a digital filter. Even more, (48 percent) said they are interested in shopping for these kinds of “virtual looks” in the next year.

Thirty-nine percent of consumers have also used virtual or augmented reality to participate in consultations with experts for topics from health to makeup and hairstyling.

“In a world where digital has become as important as the physical, consumer-facing companies are challenged to create, shape and market products, services and experiences that can move between the physical and virtual worlds,” said Oliver Wright, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Services industry group. “And they need to do this while coordinating a network of experts, skills and technologies to help make it happen. While commercial applications of metaverse are still in their infancy, they will develop quickly because consumers already expect it. Successful consumer brands will be those that collaborate with consumers and the metaverse ecosystem to create digital products and services that meet these rapidly emerging needs.”

Notably, Accenture recently announced the launch of its Metaverse Continuum business group to help clients navigate, design, execute and accelerate a metaverse journey.

Join WWD on June 28 in Paris for our Metaverse Symposium! Click here for information and registration details.