Digital Seniors and the Metaverse Movement: Life for All Generations Continues Online
As the world shut down in 2020, consumers of all ages were forced to go online. In 2021, new habits and social distancing requirements have tethered young, old and everyone else to their digital devices, and the physical and digital worlds have begun to merge.
Fast forward to 2022, and consumers are driving now the Metaverse movement: the emerging development of a future version of the internet characterized by shared 3D virtual spaces.
The live streaming and gaming networks most popular with digital native consumers, like TikTok and Roblox, are leading the evolution of the Internet beyond 2D digital platforms to 3D virtual environments.
However, younger generations aren’t the only ones migrating to the metaverse. Digital Seniors people aged 60 and over have also had to learn how to stay in touch with their communities and the rest of the world through digital platforms. Now empowered to shop online and socialize online, older consumers are also joining young people in the growing movement.
Consumers benefit from a growing metaverse
Digital Seniors discover 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” videos on YouTube. Meanwhile, some are also embracing wearable technologies and installing home tech equipment to help them with their daily tasks.
The most tech-savvy digital seniors have started donning AR/VR gear and engaging with brands, their grandchildren, and each other while immersed in the growing metaverse.
Virtual reality companies aimed at seniors have thus emerged. For example, the American company Rendever provides virtual reality equipment to senior living communities, offering residents the opportunity to enjoy immersive virtual entertainment and travel experiences.
How brands can find value in virtual worlds
People aged 60 and over make up the predominant cohort in the upper income bracket ($250,000), accounting for almost a quarter and making older consumers an important target for businesses. Meanwhile, the 20-24 year old population will see the biggest income gains by 2040 and be the confident digital consumers of tomorrow.
Companies need to optimize their physical hardware products as well as their virtual goods and experiences to appeal to these large and rich 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+
Participate in online video games
21% of consumers aged 15-29
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey
Brands are now turning to gaming and social media to attract new buyers and meet the in-game consumer. Many buy billboards, product placements and other advertising space in immersive digital environments. Some even offer fully virtual goods such as NFTs for sale.
Fashion and luxury brands from Gucci to Vans partnered with online gaming platform Roblox in 2021. With over 47 million daily active users on the platform, these brands have connected with consumers of new ways by offering virtual products for their avatars and hosting digital spaces where avatars can explore, gather and socialize.
Through these early efforts, brands are primarily building equity among influential consumers pioneering virtual gaming worlds. At the same time, they learn to recreate the interactions and emotions associated with the physical world in a virtual world to better represent their brand in the metaverse.
What’s next for digital seniors and the Metaverse movement?
As AR/VR capabilities improve and hardware costs come down, consumers of all ages will be able to access the Metaverse. Those who are already comfortable interacting in online social environments will spend even more time in immersive 3D social environments. This equipment will also help older consumers and those with physical limitations in daily living tasks.
Businesses need to approach the metaverse with their target audience at the center of their strategy. When done right, businesses can build brand equity and generate significant revenue in both the physical and virtual worlds.
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