Consumer interest in immersive tech grows: Accenture

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Consumer interest in immersive tech grows: Accenture

The increased use of immersive technology like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will encourage B2C companies to increase their investment in new capabilities like the metaverse.

A new Accenture study reveals the investment in the metaverse will occur to prevent companies being left behind, technology-wise.

The survey of more than 11,000 consumers in 16 countries found that while 64 percent of consumers had already purchased a virtual good or taken part in a virtual experience or service in the past year, that figure is expected to rise, as 83 percent show interest in making purchases via the metaverse.

Furthermore, 42 percent of survey respondents said they had visited a retailer in the virtual world to get advice, make a payment or browse a product range when shopping for a physical item, while 56 percent of respondents plan to in the next year. Among millennials, these figures increase to 51 percent and 61 percent respectively.

According to the Accenture Technology Vision 2022, “Meet Me in the Metaverse: The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business,” 55 percent of consumers agree that more of their lives and livelihoods are moving into digital spaces.

In response, 90 percent of retail executives say that they anticipate that leading organisations will push the boundaries of the virtual world to make it more real, increasing the need for persistence and seamless navigation between the digital and physical worlds. Further, 72 percent of global executives state that the metaverse will have a positive impact on their organisations, with 45 percent believing it will be breakthrough or transformational.

Jill Standish, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s retail industry group said 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.

“Retailers and brands will need to reimagine and experiment with what new immersive and consultative experiences could mean to consumers. In addition to new opportunities to sell, the metaverse can also help build loyalty through experiences that go beyond just buying a product,” she said.  

“For instance, retailers can create a personalised experience by offering a live-stream 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.”

The survey also found that half of consumers said that they are buying, or would be interested in buying, a travel experience such as a sightseeing tour or hotel stay. This figure rises to 55 percent of millennials, compared to 29 percent of baby boomers. For leisure, 54 percent of consumers said that they are buying, or interested in buying, tickets to a concert, a show or sporting event taking place in a virtual world.

Emily Weiss, senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s travel industry group said it is important to recognise that the metaverse is not intended to replace physical travel, rather provide a complementary enhancement to an overarching experience that, over time, may become an essential part of the travel ecosystem.

“Giving the option to sit in a virtual first-class seat, experience the lounge or walk around a hotel resort or room, opens up opportunities to truly engage and inspire people before they travel.

"And, through ‘trying-before-you-travel’, recreating landmarks in all their past glory or allowing travellers to investigate parts of nature, which they cannot explore within real-life interaction, the metaverse can also help create a more meaningful travel experience that delivers on or even exceeds customer expectations,” she said.

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