Virtual shopping experiences in the metaverse, a market opportunity Bloomberg Intelligence estimates will reach $800 billion in the next two years, has a big consumer group in Gen Z.

Nearly 75 percent of Gen Z shoppers have purchased a digital item within a videogame and 60 percent of these young shoppers think that brands should sell their products on metaverse platforms, according to The Metaverse Mindset: Consumer Shopping Insights, a new study from Obsess, a leading experiential e-commerce platform. Obsess works with brands to create immersive virtual stores on their own websites and on metaverse platforms.

Among Gen Zers who think brands should sell in the metaverse, 54 percent said people should be able to shop anywhere they go online, while 45 percent indicated that metaverse environments should be like online shopping malls. In addition, 41 percent of these Gen Zers said brands should sell in the metaverse because it gives consumers a convenient place to buy digital products like NFTs as well as physical products.

Some 70 percent of all consumers who have shopped online in a virtual store have made a purchase in one, while one-third of all survey respondents, including 40 percent of Gen Zers and 40 percent of millennials, would be interested in shopping for real or virtual products in metaverse environments that brands create.

“Our data indicate that the majority of younger consumers want to be able to shop their favorite brands anywhere they go online, including on metaverse platforms,” said Neha Singh, CEO and Founder of Obsess, which is based in New York City. “These shoppers have grown up with online videogames, esports and social media and many of them see the emerging metaverse as a modern-day mall—a connected virtual world where they can hang out, shop and socialize. For retail brands, these survey findings highlight the importance of creating sound metaverse commerce strategies today that will resonate with consumers over the coming years.”

Obsess’s The Metaverse Mindset: Consumer Shopping Insights survey was fielded from 1,001 U.S. consumers who were surveyed online by Kantar on December 22 until December 29, 2021. Gen Zers are defined as consumers ages 16 to 24, millennials as ages 25 to 40, Gen Xers as ages 41 to 56, and baby boomers/silvers as age 57 and older.

Key Findings

  • A quarter of consumers have shopped online in a 3D virtual store: Among that group, 70 percent—including 69 percent of Gen Zers, 77 percent of millennials and 67 percent of Gen Xers—have made a purchase in a virtual store. Such stores are widely seen as brands’ entryway into the metaverse.
  • The majority of consumers who shop in a 3D virtual store find it highly engaging: Among respondents who had previously shopped online in a virtual store, 60% indicated that they are likely to do so again, including 54% of Gen Zers, 68% of millennials and 67% of Gen Xers.
  • Online videogame platforms are key metaverse shopping environments: Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Gen Zers and 62% of respondents overall have purchased a digital item—such as an accessory, skin, or garment for their avatar—within an online videogame.
  • More than half of respondents (52 percent) said they would pay up to $49.99 for a virtual product for their avatar to use within an online videogame.
  • When asked about their interest in exploring worlds, islands or environments created by their favorite brands in online videogames, 51% of Gen Zers and 44% of millennials indicated they would be very interested in doing so. This compares with 41% of Gen Zers and 38% of millennials who said they would be interested in exploring any metaverse environments that brands create.
  • Not all consumers are clear on how the metaverse is defined: Just over half (53%) of respondents said they are very or somewhat familiar with the term metaverse, indicating that retail brands will need to establish clear messaging when it comes to describing their metaverse offerings to consumers.
  • Some 40% of all respondents think the metaverse is still in the conceptual stage, but that it will eventually take the form of connected online technology platforms that people will navigate using a digital avatar, while more than a quarter (27%) mistakenly perceive that the term metaverse refers to a technology owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
  • Based on their current understanding of the metaverse, 38% of respondents surveyed said they would like to be able to shop in the metaverse, including 42% of Gen Zers, 44% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers.