As the world shut down in 2020, consumers of all ages were forced online. In 2021, new habits and social distancing requirements tethered the young, old and everyone in between to their digital devices, and the physical and digital worlds began to fuse.
Fast forward to 2022, and consumers are now driving The Metaverse Movement: the burgeoning development of a future rendition of the internet characterised by shared 3D virtual spaces.
Leading the evolution of the internet beyond 2D digital platforms to 3D virtual environments are the livestreaming and gaming networks most popular with digital native consumers, like TikTok and Roblox.
However, younger generations are not the only ones moving to the metaverse. Digital Seniors aged 60+ also had to learn how to stay connected with their communities, and the wider world, through digital platforms. Now empowered to make e-commerce purchases and socialise online, older consumers are joining the young in the growing movement as well.
Consumers benefit from a growing metaverse
Digital Seniors are discovering how they can benefit from these connected platforms. With the help, and influence, of their digital native grandchildren, many are now interacting online through social media, video games and ‘how to’ YouTube videos. Meanwhile, some are also adopting wearable tech and installing in-home tech equipment to help with their daily tasks.
The most tech-savvy Digital Seniors have begun to don AR/VR equipment and engage with brands, their grandchildren and one another while immersed in the growing metaverse.
VR companies catering to senior citizens have emerged as a result. For example, US-based Rendever provides VR equipment to senior living communities, giving residents the opportunity to enjoy immersive virtual entertainment and travel experiences.
How brands can find value in virtual worlds
People aged 60+ are the predominant cohort of the top income band (USD250,000), accounting for nearly one-quarter and making older consumers an important target for businesses. Meanwhile, the population aged 20-24 will see the biggest income gains by 2040 and will be the confident digital consumers of tomorrow.
Businesses should optimise their physical hardware products as well as virtual goods and experiences to appeal to these vast and wealthy digital audiences.
Almost every day in 2021…
38% of consumers aged 60+
Visited a social networking site
51% of consumers aged 15-29
8% of consumers aged 60+
Took part in online video gaming
21% of consumers aged 15-29
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey
Brands are now turning to gaming and social to attract new buyers and meet the consumer in game. Many are buying billboards, product placements and other advertising spaces within immersive digital environments. Some are even offering fully virtual goods for sale like NFTs.
Fashion and luxury brands from Gucci to Vans partnered with the online game platform Roblox in 2021. With over 47 million daily active users on the platform, these brands connected with consumers in new ways by offering virtual products for their avatars and hosting digital spaces where avatars can explore, congregate and socialise.
Through these early efforts, brands are primarily building equity among the influential consumers pioneering virtual gaming worlds. At the same time, they are learning how to recreate the interactions and emotions associated with the physical world into a virtual one to best represent their brand in the metaverse.
What’s next for Digital Seniors and the Metaverse Movement?
As AR/VR capabilities improve and hardware costs lower, consumers of all ages will be able to access the metaverse. Those that are already comfortable interacting in online social settings will spend even more time within immersive 3D social environments. This equipment will also help older consumers and those with physical limitations with everyday life tasks.
Businesses must approach the metaverse with their target audience at the centre of their strategy. When done right, businesses can build brand equity and generate significant revenue in the physical and virtual worlds alike.
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