According to new user data from Reddit, spring is coming and romance is blooming in the metaverse. And from interior design labels to food subscription services, there are major opportunities for brands of all kinds to get into action.
Exclusive data from Reddit shows that lovers want to join the metaverse to meet new people. And after more than two years of the pandemic, they’re more than ever ready to flirt in this burgeoning virtual space. In fact, over the past six months, Reddit has seen a 249% increase in mentions of “dating” within VR interest groups.
So, what is causing this trend? And what does that say about the future of relationships and the shape of the metaverse moving forward?
1. The easy way to cosplay (Passion, Star Wars style)
As IRL socialization and travel subject to evolving Covid-related restrictions, consumers are starting to turn to virtual reality (VR) and emerging virtual ecosystems to immerse themselves in new experiences. In fact, VR headset sales increased 92% year over year.
On Reddit, this trend was particularly noticeable. Redditors are 125% more likely to engage with the metaverse and meet new people than the general public, and are 42% more likely to prefer spending time online than in person. Redditors are twice as likely to be interested in “joining the metaverse” as the general population, and this is reflected in their activity on social sites. 193% increase in screen views on subreddit r/VRchat between March 2020 and March 2022.
And more than ever, we are more interested in meeting potential lovers in virtual space. Not only will users be able to meet people from all over the world, but new virtual spaces and VR capabilities will allow them to engage in new activities and invest more deeply in their interests and passions.
“It’s not just you and me. [might be] Star Wars fans; We can literally dive into the Star Wars universe… and unleash our passion in real time in a way that doesn’t require traveling around the world and not having to buy a lot of stuff, dress up or cosplay. says Rob Gaige, Reddit’s Director of Partner Insights. “You can do it in a much more casual way. Generates more honest connections at the level of passion. [face-to-face] The dating world is a little more superficial.”
2. Reality can’t be locked in forever (Let’s meet at the restaurant on the corner)
Primarily fictitious long-distance relationships are rarely established for success. In fact, the average long-distance relationship lasts less than five months. Internet users may find love in a new space, but not forever out of the real world. Couples need to share physical intimacy, quality time, and real communication to maintain a healthy and successful partnership.
But what Gaige and the Reddit team discovered is that these virtual spaces and experiences continue to play a role in real-life relationships for couples who find love in the metaverse. “We’re already seeing signs of these kinds of hybrid relationships. Just because we met on the metaverse and now we’re in real life doesn’t mean we’re leaving the metaverse behind,” Gaige says. “This is not the same as having the Tinder app after you delete the app. [you’ve found a relationship].”
Instead, he predicts that the metaverse will remain an integral part of these IRL romantic relationships. “Physically we may be together, but we’ll go back to that world and go on a date tonight. [Star Wars’] Tatooine.” He sees this hybrid relationship as the next step in what has just begun.
And it can help this couple stay happy in the long run. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of married couples with common interests say this is the reason for a successful marriage.
3. Diverse relationships (‘anything goes’ is the new standard)
The metaverse is also ripe for forming different kinds of relationships. Gaige suggests that double dating will be smoother because couples don’t have to live close to meet. At the same time, he predicts that less burdensome virtual environments will allow users “a safe environment in which to unlock less traditional relationship structures, such as the development of role-playing and the development of monogamous relationships.” For this reason, he estimates that Gen Z (a broadly sexual and gender fluid generation) will be particularly interested in metaverse dating.
And the same goes for other kinds of interactions while romance kicks off in the metaverse. More and more users are turning to VR and the possibilities of new technologies. As Reddit user behavior reflects a surge in support group activity, interest in leveraging new technology to spend time with the deceased may increase. From March 2020 to March 2022, the number of screen views of r/griefsupport on the platform increased by 201%.
The idea is in its infancy, but Gaige and his team are keeping an eye on how it can evolve. “Can you create non-playable characters that exist with previous imprints of people you know?” he says “It’s something we’ve seen in culture over and over again at the holographic concert of the deceased. [artists] In almost all science fiction. But now that people are considering encoding those personalities and interacting with them, this is a real possibility.”
He said he was surprised that there is less demand to connect with celebrities and more demand to remember loved ones forever. “I thought it might be about famous people. For example, here’s your chance to hang out with Beyonce. That’s not it. For example, ‘I really want a grandmother. And it would be great if I could encode her grandmother so that my son or daughter could meet her great-grandmother.’
Implications for marketers (here is the money)
The explosive interest in metaverse relationships presents a whole range of valuable opportunities for brands.
Brands can also dig deeper into their fandom, Cashcow, to attract new kinds of engagement. You can host virtual activities or events where users can meet other fans who share their passions. Nintendo fanatics can wander together to Peach’s castle, while Potterheads can play a virtual Quidditch game.
Another key way brands can find value in the space is by leveraging the new commercial economy of crypto. As the high fashion industry’s foray into NFTs is already being reflected in the world, there are countless opportunities for brands to personalize their avatars and help users feel like their most authentic version to their metaverse mixer or dated. Brands can offer a variety of clothing options, props, accessories, makeup, body modifications, or even cars, bikes or scooters.
However, the commercial implications of token-based interactions are much greater. “[On a date in the metaverse] No matter what type of food is within my budget, even the restaurants nearby. [we] They might like it because I’m creating an immersive experience,” says Gaige. As a result, NFTs and tokens will become a vehicle for creating unique dating experiences, he says. “We were like, ‘Hey, I made a special experience. [for you]… I will buy you a special song to play for you to show how much I love you.’ It’s a great opportunity for brands.”
The Reddit team believes that certain industries may be more likely to succeed early on. Luxury and fashion are obvious early adopters, and Gaige looks to the burgeoning metaverse real estate market. “[Companies are] Famous buildings, famous land reconstruction [in the metaverse]. In a way, your dream home has to be in virtual space and you don’t need that much in real space,” says Gaige.
In the same vein, he predicts that design brands will see a lot of new opportunities. “I see the Herman Millers of the world and they need to jump right into it and develop the mid-century modern spirit in that space. Every designer (Kelly Wearstler) would have done it for them if I had branded for them.”
Will Cady, director of KarmaLab, Reddit’s creative strategy division, expects food subscription services like Blue Apron to see new opportunities as long-distance couples try to connect in new ways.
Ultimately, space is so in its infancy, the possibilities are virtually endless, says Cady. “This is a somewhat open field. There are new habits that have not yet been formed and new consciousnesses that can be formed. For example, I was officiating a wedding on the metaverse, which was a whole new moment. There were about 200 online and IRL about 10. It’s something that didn’t exist before. What are the commercial opportunities for weddings on Metaverse? [offers a] A good experience for all guests?”
More than, Sign up for Drum’s daily US newsletter here..