The Citizens of the Metaverse embody these four key macro trends:
Adopting Web 3.0
Intertwining the virtual with the everyday
Dispelling fear that alternate reality can detract from the physical world
Investing in purely virtual assets
The Citizens of the Metaverse (Metazens) are people willing to participate in the metaverse without hesitation. They are ready for the next iteration of the internet, poised to dive into the immersive and integrated parallel world it will forge. Buy a piece of real estate that only exists in the ether? Yes, please! Curate a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and make friends you've never met in person? Sure! Wear a device in your ear that tracks and analyzes your every move? Why not! In a way, this group is the extreme amalgamation of others. They embrace the virtual work lifestyle of the Virtual Natives, the investment attitudes of the Hivemind Investors, and the new age approach to wellbeing of the Wellness Protagonists. They are on the cutting edge of every technological frontier. Placing immense trust in the direction of new technology, they are not naïve — they acknowledge there are risks involved. They're simply willing to take them, experiment with them, and pay for them. They want to enhance what they already use the internet for, then expand into unchartered territory. They are molding a new market and will shape how the metaverse emerges and becomes enmeshed into a global future.
Even before the pandemic, our lives were barreling toward new technological realities. There were sweeping changes in methods of working, connecting, exercising, thinking about our bodies, and making purchases and investments. The pandemic allowed these realities to bear new fruit and simultaneously ushered in an increased level of acceptance and proliferation. Though technologies like virtual reality (VR) and cryptocurrency went from creeping to coursing through the mainstream, many people are still reticent to pluck from this virtual Tree of Knowledge. But not the Metazens. They'll take all the apples they can get.
Getting inside the brains of the Metazens will be crucial for understanding how to develop products and services that appeal to the tech-savvy masses. As a group, the Metazens are generally trusting, willing to take risks, and excited about helping the metaverse grow and become an established part of society. They are fans, and their fandom should be encouraged and investigated. We'll find no one else as willing to test out and experiment with new ways of purchasing and consuming goods than these inquisitive trailblazers.
“I realize we don’t know exactly how things will unfold. But I trust that the people behind the wheel know what they’re doing.”
The Metazens are trusting: notably more so of social media than the rest of the population. They are also more risk-taking, optimistic, and consumption-oriented, making them the prime guinea pigs for this new class of products and services. But guinea pigs are not lemmings — they are not engaging in the metaverse blindly or without skepticism. They agree in similar numbers as the general population that the metaverse could harm the fabric of society. But despite the potential risks, they generally believe that those holding the reins are dependable, that its creation will have a pronounced impact on the world, and that they will be critical participants.
“There is so much opportunity here to improve people’s lives.”
The Metazens see the metaverse, in one sense, as an unchartered paradise, where they will be free to play, have fun, and explore independently. But it is not a den of iniquity — far from it. They also believe it has immense potential to improve their efficiency and connect with others. They see it as a well-rounded ecosystem, mapping onto our own, not just a virtual Las Vegas where what happens in the metaverse stays in the metaverse.
A common thread that surfaced throughout many consumers' profiles is the need for health, safety, and security. The Metazens are no different — they also desire a safe haven and believe the metaverse will provide it. Though this may be a byproduct of Covid-19, it also may indicate that the metaverse garners an escape to a reality that is safer than our day-to-day experience. If these past few years have taught us anything, there are myriad reasons for a sojourn to an alternate realm.
“I’m definitely ready to pay for it. The more we encourage companies to develop these experiences, the better they’ll get.”
The Metazens will gladly open their wallets for the right products and are about three times as likely to be willing to pay to access the metaverse. This makes them ideal candidates to test the viability of new metaverse technology, especially as they seek both enhanced versions of what they already know and entirely novel experiences.
Although the Metazens are eager to adopt this new technology, there is a lack of creativity in what they expect from the metaverse. They are most interested and willing to pay for experiences that involve gaming, socializing, and working (activities that they are already familiar with on the internet). They are also interested in experiences specific to the metaverse, such as virtual events, simulations, and digital objects, but less so, and are waiting to for businesses to take the lead in providing value-added products. Metazens are willing to pay for metaverse activities that they now get for free online, like socializing, healthcare, and working. That suggests the market for products already exists, and businesses should start to think about how to acquire these potential customers in the metaverse.
“It’s going to be an entirely new way to have fun and experience the world.”
As we've explored, a considerable draw of the metaverse for the Metazens is fun and games. But there is much more to the concept of gaming than meets the eye. The Metazens' comfort level with virtual world-building (and paying for it) often stems from the experience many have had from virtual gaming. Almost all of them (82%) have experience playing online games that simulate another world, and over a third make consistent in-game purchases. Gaming is a key entry point for the metaverse, and organizations are likely to benefit from exploring ways to gamify a range of experiences.
Beyond gaming, the Metazens are twice as likely to participate in virtual versions of activities that others only want to experience in person. Over half report paying for an online fitness subscription, and a similar number have attended a virtual entertainment experience. Once thought to be nonsensical, virtual concerts are growing in popularity. Case in point — Travis Scott’s record-setting Fortnite performances in April 2020 saw a viewership of 27 million, according to Fortnite's Twitter. Doors that opened in the pandemic for virtual experiences likely will remain ajar.
“It’s also an opportunity to make money. I see it as a whole new facet of the economy.”
Like the Hivemind Investors, crypto is their second language. They invest in cryptocurrencies at three times the rate of the general population, and five times as much in virtual real estate and in NFTs. Though they may be placing bets to win big, they consider these investments equal to or more valuable than traditional investments like stocks or bonds. Since the Metazens tend to be a lower income group, this could mean that they see the volatility of virtual assets as an opportunity to win big. Alternatively, they may see virtual investments as another arena for them to gamify, replete with risks, winners, and losers.
Because the metaverse is as boundless and expansive as we have the creativity to envision it, there is an endless opportunity to develop this space. Between all of its various facets, estimates of the market value of the metaverse generally range from $250 billion-$800 billion in the next three to five years. With such tremendous potential and a group of willing and eager test subjects as the Metazens, organizations still have the chance to get ahead of the wave before it crests.
And as early adopters, they’re setting the tone for how the metaverse will unfold and what folds it will contain.
The Metazens will be the first to use new tools and the first to provide feedback that will influence how technology develops. They create ample opportunity for businesses to capitalize on their receptivity to paying for net-new goods and services. They also could provide insights about how other consumers think of the emergence of the metaverse and how they plan to weave it into their own lives.
The Citizens of the Metaverse are driving demand for:
- Metaverse products today. Some may think that the metaverse is a distant technology that we have not yet realized, but the Metazens do not care. They are willing to pay for access to the metaverse at high rates, and are even willing to pay for access to activities that they do not already pay for on the internet. Businesses should not wait. Though some metaverse activities hinge on robust underlying infrastructure, many do not require the complication of an entire virtual universe such as a virtual dressing room to try on physical clothing. The Metazen’s dollars are waiting eagerly as businesses scramble to meet demand.
- Virtual ownership. Intrinsic value is irrelevant for these speculative asset chasers. They believe that they are the vanguards of virtual value, and that others will soon realize that they have been right, that digital assets have durable and appreciable value. Their willingness to invest in cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and virtual real estate is only the beginning. They want a pair of virtual shoes from their favorite basketball player, virtual handbags from cutting-edge designers, and a metaverse house designed by a forward-thinking architect. The Metazens prove that virtual ownership is only just beginning.
- Wearables that give them an immersive experience. Metazens already work out through digital fitness subscriptions, attend virtual events, and use VR and AR. They know that their vision for the metaverse means more wearables, and ones that can integrate their physical and virtual worlds. Because so little of the metaverse is defined, the modes used to access it have yet to be fully developed.
- Reassurances. Metazens are enthusiastic, but they have reservations about the metaverse. As does just about everyone else familiar with the technology. In order for the metaverse to proliferate responsibly, governments, stakeholders, and organizations will have to work hand in hand to define a regulatory framework/environment that ensures the safety of metaverse users, a level playing field for new entrants, and the technology’s continuity.
As the Citizens of the Metaverse interweave our realities:
- To what degree is the immersive Web 3.0 – one that blends a higher degree of interactivity and community with digital assets and currency – an inevitability?
- Are you tailoring your products and services towards a blurring understanding of physical and virtual realities?
- How will you make your entrance into the metaverse?