Young consumers are already in the metaverse, but what exactly are they buying in there?
- Young consumers are growing up buying virtual products, and spending digital currencies
- Gen Z is more likely to purchase video game currencies and clothing / accessories for their avatar, while Millennials are more likely to buy cryptocurrency, land, and NFTs
We recently broke down what the metaverse is and told you that young people—especially Gen Z—are already there. YPulse’s recent Metaverse trend report found that three quarters of 13-39-year-olds are playing sandbox games that bring them to virtual worlds or visiting web3 metaverse spaces. Obviously, virtual world video games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft have been a significant part of young people’s lives. And for these generations, buying virtual goods and products in these worlds is a norm. In fact, they’re growing up buying digital products in the metaverse: Half of Millennial parents whose kids play virtual world games say those kids have spent their money on digital products, and 29% say their kids have spent their own money on digital products. But of course older Gen Zs and Millennials are buying products in virtual spaces as well, and a reported $54 billion was spent on virtual goods in 2021. So, what are they buying? We asked young people if they have purchased a variety of digital items in virtual worlds, and though our list was far from exhaustive it’s a clear indication of just how mainstream virtual spending is for these generations:
The number one thing that young people have purchased in a virtual world is currency, which is, of course, the starting point for almost all virtual good purchases. Back in 2019, we explored the kinds of in-app purchases that young consumers were making, and found that in-app currency was one of their top responses. We noted: “Young consumers told us about the gems, coins, diamonds, credits, tokens, and other currencies that they’ve spent real life money on in apps These virtual currencies are then used to purchase virtual products, from food to loot boxes to skins.” That marketplace has only grown in the years since, and now half of Gen Z tell us that they have purchased currency within a game, far more than Millennials. Titles like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft have their own in-game currencies (V-Bucks, Robux, and Minecoins) that players can use to purchase items in the game including exclusive skins and accessories, which they’re buying for their avatars.
Which brings us to the second item in the ranking: over two in five young consumers have purchased digital clothing/accessories for their avatar, with Gen Z again more likely to have dones than Millennials. Exclusive digital clothing lines and even high-end labels creating digital designs for avatars in games from Animal Crossing to Roblox have become the norm as these generations shell out to make their virtual selves stylish. Epic Games has partnered with celebrities like LeBron James, Ariana Grande, and most recently, Naomi Osaka and her sister for a collection of in-game outfits inspired by their Japanese and Haitian heritage, for the Fortnite Icon Series. We told you early on that digital-only clothing is one way brands can reach young consumers—and several luxury and high fashion brands have debuted digital fashion lines for young customers to purchase in these games. So, we can expect to see more brands forget partnerships with these gaming platforms as a way to target younger customers virtually.
But while Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to be buying gaming currencies and virtual products, Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they’ve purchased cryptocurrency, land, and NFTs in the metaverse. While some headlines have linked cryptocurrency and NFTs to Gen Z, YPulse’s fintech research found early on that Millennials are much more likely than Gen Z to show interest in investing in cryptocurrency. So, while some Millennials are struggling to buy land and real estate in real life, it seems like some are opting to buy virtual land instead. Web 3.0 platforms like The Sandbox and Decentraland are just some of the spaces where users can purchase plots of lands and interact with others in the virtual ecosystem who do the same. Overall, both Gen Z and Millennials are buying things they’re seeing in the metaverse, but there’s clearly certain (digital) products each gen is more interested in than the other.
YPulse Business users can access the full Metaverse trend report and data here.
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