Immersive Brand Experiences: The Role of the Metaverse in Shaping Consumer Purchase Intentions

CoE-EDP, VisionRICoE-EDP, VisionRI | Updated: 18-06-2024 13:29 IST | Created: 18-06-2024 13:29 IST
Immersive Brand Experiences: The Role of the Metaverse in Shaping Consumer Purchase Intentions
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A study by Ruchi Payal, Nitika Sharma, and Yogesh K. Dwivedi from the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, International Management Institute New Delhi, School of Management, Swansea University, Wales, UK, and Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune, Maharashtra, delves into the metaverse's potential to enhance customer engagement with brands and stimulate real-world purchase intentions. The metaverse is a virtual shared space combining physical and digital realities, offering immersive experiences accessible through various devices. Technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and Web 3.0 drive its functionalities, making it a significant platform for consumer-brand interactions. The global metaverse market, valued at USD 68.23 billion in 2021, is projected to grow substantially, highlighting its potential to transform consumer engagement.

Understanding the Research Framework

The study employs the Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) framework to develop its research model. This model suggests that environmental stimuli influence cognitive and affective responses, which in turn affect behavioral intentions. The research aims to understand how interactivity within the metaverse influences brand trust, knowledge, and attachment, and how these factors impact active brand engagement and real-world purchase intentions.

To explore this, the researchers selected 'Nikeland' in Roblox, a virtual simulation of Nike's headquarters, as the study's experiential space. The participants were 280 undergraduate and postgraduate students, primarily from Generation Z, who had prior experience with Roblox and virtual reality applications. After engaging with 'Nikeland' for an hour, the participants completed a questionnaire measuring their perceptions of various study variables, such as perceived active control, two-way communication, and synchronicity in the metaverse, as well as brand knowledge, trust, attachment, active engagement, and purchase intentions.

Key Findings and Insights

Data analysis involved Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) to confirm the measurement model and test the hypotheses. The findings revealed that metaverse brand active engagement significantly influences real-world purchase intentions. This active engagement is driven by metaverse brand trust, knowledge, and attachment. Specifically, perceived active control in the metaverse positively affects brand trust and attachment, although it does not significantly impact brand knowledge. Two-way communication and synchronicity within the metaverse positively impact brand trust, knowledge, and attachment.

Additionally, metaverse brand active engagement partially mediates the relationships between brand trust, knowledge, attachment, and real-world purchase intentions. This indicates that engagement in the metaverse can lead to real-world purchases if users develop trust, knowledge, and attachment to the brand within the virtual environment.

Implications for Marketers

The study highlights the metaverse's potential as a marketing and engagement platform. Marketers can use metaverse interactivity to build brand trust, knowledge, and attachment, which enhances active engagement and drives real-world purchases. However, the study also notes that the metaverse is still evolving, and its long-term impact on consumer behavior requires further exploration. Brands like Gucci, Nike, and Samsung have already started collaborating with metaverse platforms like Roblox, Decentraland, and Sandbox. These brands are launching limited edition fashion items for virtual spaces and investing in virtual land for hosting fashion weeks and creating brand engagement. This interplay of the virtual and real worlds in commerce offers a new way for brands to engage with young consumers, especially Generation Z, by placing products in virtual spaces and facilitating users to experience the brand in the metaverse.

Shaping Future Consumer Interactions

The research underscores the metaverse's role in shaping future consumer-brand interactions and purchase behaviors. As the metaverse continues to develop, it presents unique opportunities for brands to engage with consumers in innovative ways, ultimately influencing their real-world purchase intentions. This study provides valuable insights into how brands can leverage the metaverse to enhance consumer engagement and drive sales in the real world. The potential for marketing, testing, advertising, engagement, and selling in the metaverse heralds a new era of virtual-to-physical commerce. The study's findings emphasize that while the metaverse is still in its early stages, its capabilities in enhancing brand engagement and driving real-world purchases are significant, paving the way for a new dimension in consumer interaction and commerce.

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