Americans have continually expressed skepticism, confusion, and disbelief about the metaverse in surveys. One recent poll, however, finds that more than half of 13- to 60-year-olds think there are multiple ways the virtual environment could ease their lives--offering a strong hint to businesses about how to create value in the virtual.  

In the survey, compiled by UTA and Vox Media, along with data consultancy the Circus, 59 percent of the more than 4,000 respondents said that the metaverse will make the process of real-estate shopping better. The same percentage expect it to improve the process of finding a fitness or exercise routine.

Consumers also seemed bullish on retail shopping in the metaverse, from furniture and home goods (which 53 percent said would be significantly better in a virtual environment) to clothing (53 percent) to makeup and beauty (50 percent). More than half said they expected that planning a trip or vacation would be improved as well. And survey respondents encouraged businesses to dive in: 80 percent reported being open to brands being involved in the building of the metaverse.

Much of the discourse about the metaverse includes the idea of businesses augmenting reality with creative flourishes. But these data suggest that consumers are most interested in experiences that make browsing and buying simpler, suggesting that brands should focus instead on creating utilitarian virtual experiences.

To do that effectively, your company will need to tread lightly to avoid alienating shoppers. Broad skepticism and fear about the metaverse still abound. In a Harris Poll conducted in January and February, a majority of respondents said they fear it will make them lose touch with reality. And in the same UTA/Vox study, metaverse disbelievers showed up: One third don't believe it will be something they experience in their lifetime.

Plus, nearly half of respondents reported fear that the metaverse would lead to "the neglect of their physical surroundings and they will lose pre-existing relationships and the ability to form new ones." Pretty heavy stuff to risk for a better couch-shopping experience.