Everyone has been talking about the metaverse – but when the hype has ended, what will come next? This is the main question that Hamid Bekradi, CEO of Simulacrum, and I tried to answer at our catch-up in a Singapore café in early December 2022. In that conversation, we recognized that there are still some myths to be unlocked about the metaverse and its potential applications to market research.
In February 2023, we presented a paper on the metaverse at IIEX Asia Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, in which we explored popular metaverse myths and how we unlock them.
We found three key myths:
- The metaverse is inside VR headsets: We don’t need VR headsets to gain access to the metaverse. The experiences are accessible on any device, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.
- The metaverse is only for gaming: Although it is thanks to gaming platforms that the social part of the metaverse has become more popular, nowadays e-commerce and other industries can inhabit and make use of immersive experiences and virtual spaces, just as they would in the real world.
- There is more than one metaverse: Just as there is ‘the internet’, there is also ‘the metaverse’. There isn’t ‘an internet’ or ‘the internets’, and likewise there will only be one metaverse.
So what are the implications of the above myths for marketing teams, and particularly for a brand’s story of growth? Hamid states that: “As more brands are trying to enter the metaverse, new ways of marketing products are starting to emerge for both physical and digital products, but one thing is certain, and that’s the fact that the playbook of e-commerce is not going to be directly applicable to marketing in the metaverse. As companies are trying to figure out how to effectively do metaverse marketing as they go along, they will need data and insights to achieve best practices – signalling an imminent paradigm shift in marketing and a transition from e-commerce to ‘m-commerce’!”
The (mis)education of marketing and market research about the metaverse
For the longest time, marketing and market research have been inspired by work coming from the University of Cambridge Hero Images Guidelines as the prevailing best practice global norm for the industry. The Guidelines ensure visual clarity and appeal and ensure that incremental sales take place for brands in an online shopping platform. The Guidelines are used by marketing teams to drive brand engagement, leading to a favourable level of purchase conversion.
The Guidelines serve their purpose, particularly if the key visuals for online shopping platforms are flat, 2D images. However, the Guidelines are no longer applicable if the online shopping platform and context are fully immersive, like in a metaverse shopping gallery. It is at this stage that PureSpectrum comes in, with a market research exploratory test aimed at setting up some baseline information on metaverse marketing effectiveness.
We conducted two separate optimization tests: a 2D Hero Image Test and a Metaverse Test using a video rendering of an actual metaverse shopping gallery. Both tests used the same Nike Air Jordan shoes as the test product. We tested a 2D image rendering of the product and a video rendering of the metaverse gallery featuring the same shoe on a shelf.
The parallel online surveys covered a total of 2,400 respondents from the PureSpectrum Marketplace Platform, recruited across four key markets in APAC: Australia, India, the Philippines, and Singapore. We interviewed men and women, 18 years old and above, who had been online shoppers in the past three months.
As expected, the key visual (the shoe rendering) pulled in more likes than the text. Across the four markets, India, the Philippines, and Singapore yielded similar purchase intent levels, while Australia manifested the lowest purchase intent score. In any given day, the tested 2D image rendering could be deployed by a company’s marketing team and placed on an online shopping platform, as it is ‘good enough’. But our exploratory research didn’t end there – we also set up a separate test using a metaverse video rendering of the same Nike product.
Testing the metaverse shopping gallery
Given the lack of established metaverse brand metrics, we deployed the same metrics used in the 2D Hero Image Test to measure the video rendering of the Nike Air Jordan metaverse shopping gallery. The results were surprising and made us feel that marketing teams should adopt the fully immersive experience of the metaverse instantly!
The metaverse version pulled in more favourable responses overall and eliminated purchase intent disparities between markets. The metaverse experience provided stronger brand metrics than the 2D hero image version across the board and in all four markets. Comparing the study results of the two approaches, the metaverse version promises greater return on investment for brands than the 2D image version. However, we know that current e-commerce brand metrics may not be the most exhaustive yardstick with which to measure the effectiveness of these brand assets; there may be a better set of metrics that could measure the performance of brand assets in a fully immersive shopping environment.
This paper presents just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the potential of the metaverse. The metaverse playing field may require new rules – rules that are not yet known to many marketing teams. The next few months of metaverse development will be a phase of finding the ‘rights’ and mitigating the ‘wrongs’. Finally, to think that the present metrics of e-commerce will use the exact same key performance indicators to set up the metaverse is the biggest myth there is.
PureSpectrum offers complete end-to-end Insights and Marketplace Platforms, helping insight professionals make decisions more efficiently and faster than ever before. PureSpectrum won MR Supplier of the year from Quirk’s and has pioneered PureScore™. PureScore™ is a respondent-level scoring system, bringing a new standard for data quality to the market research industry.
This article was first published in the Q1 2023 edition of Asia Research Media