Razorfish Study Finds 52% of Gen Z Gamers Feel More Like Themselves in the Metaverse than in Real Life

“The Metaverse: A View from Inside,” conducted with VICE Media Group, reveals that majority of Gen Z welcomes brands in the metaverse, creating opportunities for marketers that get it right

Razorfish and VICE Media Group released findings from new research that examines the metaverse’s impact on identity, social interactions, and commerce. The study, titled “The Metaverse: A View from Inside,” seeks to understand how Gen Z, in particular, blends experiences across virtual and offline worlds, and the opportunities for brands to build meaningful interactions in this new space.

According to survey responses, Gen Z gamers spend twice as much time hanging out with friends in the metaverse than they do in real life, with gamers spending 12.2 hours per week playing video games versus 6.6 hours hanging out with friends in-person. These gamers don’t only view their time in the metaverse as pure escapism, but also as an extension of real life: 52% of Gen Z gamers say they would like to experience making money in the metaverse, while 33% of them would like to experience building a career there.

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“I feel like my identity in a game is a truer expression of who I am.”

Gen Z gamers purchase items in the metaverse the same way they do in real life. Over the next five years, 20% of Gen Z gamers’ “fun” budgets (i.e., money spent on entertainment, leisure, or recreation) will go to in-game purchases, with the average current spend being $50/year. Further, they welcome brands here: 33% of Gen Z gamers would like to see brands provide virtual stores for browsing and buying products in the metaverse, while 30% would like to see brands selling skins and apparel for their avatars.

“Today’s youth are coming into their identities both in real life and in the metaverse, using experiences across both worlds to build confidence and hone their self-expression,” said Nicolas Chidiac, brand strategy lead at Razorfish. “Gen Z gamers view the metaverse as a safe place to freely express themselves, experiment with identities, establish friendships, and ultimately create a world they want to live in. It’s important that brands don’t dismiss the metaverse as a passing fad, but view it as a paradigm-shifting trend that’s just getting started.”

Brands Will Lose a Key Demographic if They Ignore the Metaverse

The “metaverse” quickly arose as one of the early buzzwords of 2022. As marketers come to grips with understanding this new environment, Gen Z is already growing up with it; it isn’t foreign or futuristic to them – it is their reality, especially for gamers. In fact, 57% of Gen Z gamers feel they’re able to self-express more openly to others in a game than they do in real life. The metaverse impacts the way Gen Z gamers think, socialize, and consume every day.

The study further notes that Gen Z gamers regard the metaverse in a substantial way and, more specifically, are invested in the way they interact with brands in this alternate reality.

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The Metaverse Impacts Reality Beyond Brand Experiences

Key findings of the Razorfish study revealed that:

  • The metaverse gives gamers space to explore their identity.
    • 45% of Gen Z gamers say, “I feel like my identity in a game is a truer expression of who I am.” Forty percent say it gives them self-confidence.
  • Stress relief is a major driver.
    • 77% of Gen Z gamers say their biggest motive for gaming is to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Gen Z is approaching the metaverse with practicality.
    • 47% would like to use it to meet new people and 33% would like to use it to build a career.
  • Data privacy is a concern for Gen Z gamers, but less than for older generations.
    • 63% of Gen Z are concerned about data privacy in video games and the metaverse (vs. 66% Millennials and 70% Gen X).

“Our study shows that Gen Z is using the metaverse to cultivate connections and explore who they really are,” said Julie Arbit, Global SVP, Insights at VICE Media Group. “It allows them to dream and co-create a more idealized version of the world. Brands would be remiss to not include the metaverse as a strategic piece of their initiatives, provided they do so in a way that both respects and enhances the overall experience.”

How Brands Can Get Started

Brands today have a significant opportunity to explore the brand and commerce possibilities for this new frontier. The Razorfish report recommends that brands:

  • Link it up – real life and the metaverse are interlinked, so should metaverse strategies.
  • Find purpose – what is the value exchange you’ll be delivering against?
  • Be wary of shiny object syndrome – approach the metaverse with the same rigor as other channels. Which problem are you solving for, whom are you trying to engage with, what is the role of the product and how are you measuring success?
  • Ethics matter – Proceed with caution; this is an unregulated space, so ethics count.
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