The metaverse or the true virtues of the virtual

The perception of the metaverse oscillates between enthusiasm, fear and skepticism. Far from the imagination, this groundbreaking innovation above all offers immense potential in terms of customer experience.

The metaverse has been on everyone’s lips for several months. Like all “disruptive” technological innovations, it arouses its share of extreme reactions, fears and fantasies … Some, fueled by the imagination of science fiction, prophesy a fusion between the physical, biological and digital world, and the abandonment of our existences in the real world in favor of an addictive projection in the virtual. At the other extreme, others show the utmost skepticism, relying on the first evidence of the metaverse, which hardly live up to the expectations of the public – Mark Zuckerberg paid the price recently, following the launch of his virtual world, considered disappointing. .
The reality is, as always, between these two extremes. No, we will not live a new life in the metaverse; and yes, the metaverse has immense potential. Soon it will be a virtual tool that will first of all offer immense benefits in the real world, and in particular will be extremely practical 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, conceptualized experiential marketing. In particular, they introduced the role of emotions and experience (“experience”) in purchasing mechanisms. Four decades later, it is tempting to see the new tools provided by the metaverse as the most successful embodiment of this “consumer experience”.
In fact, today, anyone who purchases online can evaluate products and services thanks to the information provided by the website that markets it and to those of the manufacturer (this is called web 1.0), as well as from verified comments from different customers or influencers (this is web 2.0). . The metaverse will make it possible to evolve into a world of meaning in which everyone will be able to evaluate for themselves, as close as possible to the real conditions of use, a product or a service.
You can try a virtual shoe on your avatar modeled with unprecedented precision, try a new vehicle model or take an immersive tour of a hotel for your holidays and get an exact image of the surface of the rooms, their layout. this without leaving the house.
In the metaverse, touch, taste or smell will not (yet) be solicited, but will constitute anticipations with respect to traditional consumption: the demonstration car will not be immobile as in the dealership, it will be able to move, accelerate, change color. We can get an idea of ​​its internal space or its management on an almost larger than life simulation. Of course, this virtual experience will never be worth that of the “real” test, but it will allow you to prepare it, get a first idea or sketch out a choice where too many options are presented.

Towards a “perfect” remote shopping experience.

Contrary to what we often hear, the metaverse will therefore not only be immaterial, virtual objects possessed through NFT. Of course, some will buy virtual shoes to model their avatar. But this could remain marginal compared to virtual dress rehearsals, carried out in view of a purchase in the physical world. Few of us will purchase virtual villas to settle in the metaverse, but many of us will make remote visits to choose our vacation spots or before any real estate transactions.
Of course, there will still be failed trial and error before we arrive at a finite form of this hybrid reality. But the potential of this technology is immense; because what opens up here is a path towards a “perfect” remote shopping experience. This will never replace shopping in a store, which is an irreplaceable experience. But we will get close to perfection because we will no longer need to go to a store “to try”; because we will no longer be limited by the stock of colors and sizes available in a particular store; and why we can return, with one click, as often as necessary.

The precision of the fitting modeling, its immersive nature, its ease, will allow the consumer to make safer purchasing decisions. This will certainly result in fewer product returns, and therefore also a lower carbon footprint. By allowing a more reasoned and better informed consumption, the metaverse will also facilitate the marketing of second-hand or refurbished products. And this is also good for our planet.

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

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