Research - 11.04.2024 - 09:00 

Study on the attractiveness of metaverse applications in Switzerland

How do users rate the overall experience in the metaverse and relevant features? How clear is the information and does it inspire a purchase? And what are the biggest criticisms of the use of VR glasses? A new study by the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG) answers these questions.

The "metaverse" is an augmented reality. Users immerse themselves in a computer-generated 3D world using immersive technologies such as metaverse platforms, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Virtual and real elements merge to create an interactive and immersive experience. The study "The perception of various metaverse applications from a user perspective in November 2023" by the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) comes to this conclusion: contrary to what was assumed, it is not the digitally savvy members of Generation Z who are particularly open to the metaverse. In fact, the study shows that people over the age of 50 are the most inspired by the possibilities of the metaverse. In addition, 59% of 35 to 49-year-olds can imagine shopping virtually in the metaverse in the future.

For the study, Thomas Rudolph and Katharina Ruschmann from IRM-HSG surveyed a total of 451 visitors to the "Metaverse Discovery Grid" in SQUARE at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) in November 2023. The 200m2 temporary physical meeting place on the topic of Metaverse comprised 18 stations with 12 VR, 12 AR and two desktop applications. "Meta Quest Pro" mixed reality glasses were also used. A visit to the Metaverse Discovery Grid lasted around 60 minutes. On average, the participants used five of the available applications. 

Positive overall assessment across all age groups

The main findings of the study are: 

  • The average overall rating of the Metaverse applications is 5 on a 7-point scale. On average, users were satisfied with the applications (5.4 out of 7) and their expectations were exceeded (4.9 out of 7). The general quality of the Metaverse applications (5.0 out of 7) and the graphic quality (4.7 out of 7) were rated as high. With increasing age, both the general and graphic quality of the Metaverse applications were rated higher.
  • The entertaining feature of the applications received the best rating (5.5 out of 7). In contrast, the features immersiveness (4.1 out of 7), realism (4.2 out of 7) and data protection concerns (3.7 out of 7) were rated rather moderately on average. In contrast, the social interaction options (2.8 out of 7), co-creation options (3.0 out of 7) and the desire for commercial elements (2.8 out of 7) were rated more critically.
  • To summarise, the most important features of the Metaverse that have a significantly positive influence on the overall impression rating are: Entertainingness, realism, immersiveness and customisability of the applications.

Metaverse visit encourages people to try out new things

The results of the study suggest that the metaverse has considerable inspirational potential as a new communication and distribution channel. The study participants agreed that the applications stimulated their imagination (5.0 out of 7) and made them want to try something new (5.5 out of 7). Overall, 40% of respondents said that the Metaverse applications had a high inspirational effect. Among 50 to 59-year-olds, the figure is as high as 57%. As the inspirational effect increases, so does users' intention to inform themselves and make purchases in the metaverse.

Disadvantages of using VR glasses

The main criticism concerns wearing comfort. Around 14% of study participants criticised aspects such as the size, weighting and general comfort of the VR glasses. In addition, around 13% complained about symptoms of motion sickness, while around 11% complained about the complex operation and around 10% about the unsatisfactory graphics.

The overall study "The perception of various metaverse applications from a user perspective in November 2023" is available to download free of charge from the online shop of the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG). 

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