The metaverse or the very real virtues of the virtual

The perception of the metaverse fluctuates between enthusiasm, fear and skepticism. Far from fantasy, this groundbreaking innovation offers huge potential especially in the field of customer experience.

The metaverse has been on everyone’s lips for several months now. Like all “disruptive” technological innovations, it arouses its share of extreme reactions, fears and fantasies… Some, fueled by the imagination of science fiction, predict a merging between the physical, biological and digital worlds, and the abandonment of our existence ​​in the real world in favor of an addictive projection in the virtual. At the other extreme, others show the greatest skepticism, relying on the first metaverse trials, which barely meet the expectations of the public – Mark Zuckerberg recently paid the price, after the launch of his virtual world. , was considered disappointing.
Reality, as always, lies between these two extremes. No, we’re not going to live a new life in the metaverse; and yes, the metaverse has huge potential. It will soon be a virtual tool that first and foremost offers huge benefits in the real world, and especially great convenience for commerce, to the benefit of both consumers and retailers.

Exactly 40 years ago, Morris Holbrook and Elisabeth Hirschmann, professors at Columbia University and New York University, came up with experiential marketing. In particular, they introduced the role of emotions and experience (“the experience”) in buying mechanisms. Four decades later, it’s tempting to see the most successful embodiment of this “consumer experience” in the new tools of the metaverse.
Indeed, today anyone who buys online can evaluate products and services thanks to the information provided by the website that markets it and that of the manufacturer (this is called web 1.0), as well as verified comments from customers or various influencers ( this is Web 2.0). The metaverse will make it possible to evolve in a world of meaning in which everyone can evaluate for themselves, as close as possible to the real conditions of use, a product or a service.
You can fit a virtual shoe on your avatar that has been modeled with unprecedented precision, try out a new vehicle model or take an immersive tour of a hotel for your vacation and get an exact idea of ​​the surface of the rooms, their layout. All this without leaving the house.
In the metavers touch, taste or smell will not be asked (yet), but it will represent an improvement over traditional consumption: the demonstration car will not be immobile like at the dealer, it will be able to move, accelerate, change color . We can get an idea of ​​the interior space or its controls on a simulation that is almost life size. Admittedly, this virtual experience will never be worth the “real” test, but it allows you to prepare it, get a first idea or make a choice where too many options arise.

Towards a “perfect” remote shopping experience

Contrary to popular belief, the metavers will therefore not just be intangible, virtual objects possessed through NFTs. Of course, a few will buy virtual shoes to style their avatar. But this could remain marginal compared to the virtual fitting of clothes performed with a view to a purchase in the physical world. Few of us will buy virtual villas to settle in the metaverse, but many of us will make remote visits to choose our vacation spots, or before a real estate transaction.
Of course, there will still be failed attempts and trial and error before we get to a completed form of this hybrid reality. But the potential of this technology is immense; because what opens up here is a path to a “perfect” remote shopping experience. This will never replace shopping in a store, which is an irreplaceable experience. But we will get closer to perfection because we no longer have to go to a store to “try”; as we are no longer limited by the stock of colors and sizes available in a particular store; and because with one click we can come back as many times as needed.

The precision of the fitting modeling, the immersive nature, the convenience, will enable safer purchasing decisions for the consumer. This will certainly result in a lower number of product returns, and therefore also in a lower carbon footprint. By allowing more reasoned, more informed consumption, the metaverse will also facilitate the marketing of second-hand or refurbished products. And that too is good for our planet.

So no fears or fantasies. Let’s enter the metaverse with enthusiasm!

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