Despite the hype that has surrounded the metaverse in the past six months, it is not clear whether, or even if, demand exists for the kinds of immersive virtual experience metaverse proponents are embracing. However, early indications are that to the extent that such demand exists, millennials appear to be the sweet spot.

Metaverse hype has dominated the tech industry since Facebook/Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision at the company’s ‘Connect’ conference last October. Zuckerberg envisions the creation of a variety of new virtual worlds in which virtual reality headsets and augmented reality software applications will create new ways to engage. In turn, the logic goes, enterprises should be able to create new opportunities to monetize an unlimited number of new virtual environments targeting both consumers and enterprises.

A new survey released by market research firm Morning Consult in April provides both good news and bad news for metaverse proponents. According to the survey, drawn from over 4,000 US adults, 38% of respondents were either very or somewhat interested in attending a live sporting event within the metaverse; 45% said they would be interested in attending live music events.

That’s relatively positive; the challenge is that in both cases more than half of respondents reported no interest, and in most cases that response was a hard ‘no’: 48% of respondents responded ‘not interested at all’ to attending live sporting events in the metaverse, while 41% had the same response for attending a live music event.

Metaverse interest varies by age group

Still, interest varied significantly by age group and came out highest among millennials (born 1989-1996). In that group, 61% reported interest in attending live music events in the metaverse, and 56% said they would consider attending live sporting events. By contrast, these figures came in at just 25% and 19% among baby boomers (born 1965 or earlier). The relatively positive response among millennials is perhaps the most encouraging news in the survey, as these respondents likely represent a sweet spot in terms of disposable income and longevity that can result in meaningful and long-lasting revenue streams from metaverse-related products and services.

Perhaps counterintuitively, the youngest group – ‘Gen Z’ respondents born after 1997 (or, in effect, 18 to 21-year-olds) – recorded less interest than their older millennial brothers and sisters (56% for live music and just 47% for live sporting events). However, that could reflect non-metaverse related factors such as a relatively lower ability to spend money on entertainment events and the general trend of Gen Z-age adults being less interested in sporting events than previous cohorts. Gen Z adults did respond most positively in a few areas: 64% of Gen Z adults said they were interested in having a digital avatar, and 43% said they would consider purchasing virtual apparel for that avatar. For baby boomers, in stark contrast, that figure was just 9% – which in survey terms can be roughly translated to ‘Get off my (virtual) lawn.’

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By GlobalData