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Despite Retail’s Investment in the Metaverse, New Study from Zipline Finds 85% of Gen Z’s Indifferent About Brands Establishing a Virtual Presence

Zipline’s report also finds 76% of all respondents are interested in an in-store hybrid experience featuring mixed reality


Zipline, the leading operations platform for distributed teams, today released its Retail Metaverse Report, the first cross-generational survey on attitudes towards retail in the metaverse. The report comes as more retailers invest heavily in products and experiences for this emerging tech sector, which is predicted to grow into a $13 trillion market by the end of the decade. 

Zipline’s Retail Metaverse Report surveyed 600 people across the country ages 13-50 to better understand how generational differences influence consumer perception of and participation in virtual retail experiences. 

Key data from the report reveals: 

  • 80% of Gen Z is “familiar” with the metaverse and 51% have participated in it through gaming, purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or other activities. While Millennials have comparable levels of familiarity with the metaverse (84%), their participation rate is much lower (37%).
  • 83% of people across all generations said gaming was their main reason for participating in the metaverse.
  • 42% of respondents across all generations who have participated in the metaverse have used it for shopping.
  • 84% of Gen X respondents said they were at least somewhat interested in receiving an NFT from their favorite brands compared to 70% of Millennials and 63% of Gen Z respondents.
  • 85% of Gen Z respondents reported feeling indifferent about brands developing a presence in the metaverse, but the same percentage said they’d be interested in hybrid in-store experiences that use mixed reality technologies to incorporate a virtual element to shopping. 

A Hybrid Experience May Be the Key to Success 
A primary challenge for retailers will be overcoming a lack of understanding of the metaverse, which Gen Z (43%), Millennials (43%), and Gen X (53%) cited as the main reason for not participating. One way to overcome this barrier to entry is through hybrid in-store mixed reality experiences that leverage augmented reality and virtual reality technologies for online shopping and engaging with friends – both virtually and in-person. 

The overwhelming majority of Gen Z (85%), Millennials (75%), and Gen X (69%) said they would be interested in these hybrid experiences, which can serve as an on-ramp for participating in the metaverse economy. Apparel company lululemon, for example, has equipped select stores with its AR-enabled Mirror, which also allows users to connect with friends. 

Study Suggests Gamification Offers An Enticing Digital Experience
Zipline’s report reveals both key areas of alignment as well as stark differences among generations of consumers that retail brands can use to shape their metaverse strategies. One striking area of overlap was that approximately half of Gen Z (52%) and Millennials (48%) who reported participating in the metaverse did so for entertainment purposes. Given that most of these consumers were brought to the metaverse for gaming, this suggests that retail brands considering a metaverse presence may want to integrate their offering with a gaming platform to create an entertaining experience and establish a connection with these audiences. Brands like Gap and Pacsun are pioneering the movement, partnering with gaming platforms like Roblox to entice younger audiences and foster a sense of inclusion. Gap’s “Club Roblox Boutique” and Pacsun’s “PACWORLD” enable a metaverse version of brick-and-mortar stores through a gamified digital experience, allowing users to participate in a community with exciting visual elements and activities. 

NFTs Pique Interest, But They Aren’t the Star of the Show
When asked what kinds of offerings they’d want from retailers in the metaverse, roughly half of Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X reported unique games, free perks, and giveaways at the top of their list. While some of these offerings may be provided as NFTs, neither Millennials or Gen Z reported NFTs as the primary reason for participating in the metaverse. Fewer than 5% of all respondents who engaged in the metaverse said access to NFTs were the main reason, even though a majority of both Millennials (70%) and Gen Z (63%) said they would be interested in getting an NFT from a brand they love. 

“It’s still very early days for retail in the metaverse,” said Melissa Wong, CEO and Co-founder of Zipline. “The majority of consumers across all generations have yet to utilize the metaverse in any capacity, and those who have are prioritizing games over shopping. Nonetheless, this creates a unique opportunity for retail brands to establish themselves as leaders in the new virtual economy. The key is to engage consumers with entertaining and accessible digital content that lowers the barriers to entry and meets metaverse users where they already exist.”

To view Zipline’s infographic for the report, click here, or view Melissa Wong’s commentary here

Zipline surveyed 600 people ages 13-50 in the U.S. to better understand attitudes toward the retail metaverse across generations. The survey was fielded from May 9th to May 13th, 2022.  
About Zipline
Zipline is the leading provider of execution solutions for brands with field locations. Proven to drive better business agility and employee engagement, brands that use Zipline experience a 130% increase in sales execution and millions of dollars in labor savings annually. The company has a Net Promoter Score of 78, and CB Insights ranked Zipline as one of the 100 most promising B2B retail tech companies in the world. Zipline is Great Place to Work-Certified for its employee engagement, culture, and healthy work-life balance, and was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. Today more than 65 brands like Rite Aid, Sephora, Gap Inc. and AEO Inc. depend on Zipline to align and empower their field teams worldwide.
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