The Young are Getting Versed in the Metaverse
"Reality Check" by James Kallman

The Young are Getting Versed in the Metaverse

June 2022

Written by: James Kallman, CEO of Moores Rowland Indonesia

(The following text is originally in the June 2022 issue of Forbes Indonesia)

As marketers begin looking at the latest unstoppable freight train of technology called the metaverse and its mega possibilities, what does it hold for Millennials and Gen Z? Like the Internet for Gen X, will the metaverse be accelerated by commercial interests aiming for today’s youth and other potentially lucrative demographic groups?

The metaverse is creating new opportunities for companies to grow their businesses, to improve productivity and for people to connect in ways that we are only just beginning to apply. Wall Street analysts are increasingly bullish on the metaverse, arguing that young people are used to gaming, are spending lots of time online and naturally take to virtual realities. You can see it already as publishers, consumer product marketers and the owners of literary characters and other intellectual property look to take advantage of the metaverse to reach young consumers.

Marketers aim for young people to see the metaverse as part of their daily lives, a way for them to interact with their peers, their favorite cartoon characters, or other content in much the same way as before, just virtually. As the younger generation is digital native, they think less in terms of offline or online and their understanding of reality is different to those who are older. Some scenarios in the metaverse have you getting a massage or a facial, catching fish, foraging for mushrooms, or planting tomatoes, and then preparing a recipe.

The Insights Family research group says that the number of six-to-nine-year-olds who have spent at least $5 on in-video game experiences has risen 51% in the past year, while teen ownership of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and digital collectibles—all components of a metaverse—is rising quickly. Many metaverse NFT vendors have created tokens for use in metaverse games, and more are planning to venture into the domain.

As the metaverse continues to grow as a consumer medium, how will it affect where people, especially young people, access the information needed to live and thrive in modern society? How will this new focus on the metaverse affect older technologies? Viewership of network television among younger people has halved in the past decade and is expected to drop further as the metaverse expands. If they want to reach young people, do companies keep going to TV or gaming and the metaverse, where more young people are?

For the metaverse to become commonplace may take several more years. Still, it is coming like how many of us transitioned from researching in libraries to researching on the Internet. During that transition, the handphone is now the primary way people under 35 keep up-to-date with the news and the world around them. Rather than go to an established news site such as CNN, many of those under 35 are more likely to turn to social media and messaging apps which has ramifications not just for the news media but also for commercial world built around them.

I feel that capitalism will find a way to reach us all through the metaverse, especially the youngest among us, as they develop its consumer trends. It will be fascinating to see how today’s youth take on the metaverse with its potential and promise. If what is past is prologue, young folks who embrace the metaverse and who can nimbly transverse it, using all its disruptive power, will bring the rest of us along.