Metaverse: China's Adoption

Article by Cihan Uzunoglu | July 06, 2023


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The Metaverse, a captivating digital domain, is increasingly influencing the eCommerce landscape in China. A recent IPSOS survey regarding extended reality (XR) - a comprehensive phrase that encompasses augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) - found that a staggering 78% of Chinese citizens harbor a positive outlook towards XR. This figure surpasses the global average by 28%.

China's Metaverse is surging forward, registering continuous progress. This, in turn, reflects on the Chinese consumers’ conception of this virtual realm. According to a study by iiMedia Research, almost half of respondents (46%) in China said that they have a good understanding of the Metaverse. While 12% have only heard of the term, the remaining 88% have at least a basic understanding of the concept.


Known for their zest for socializing, penchant for live streaming, and a keen disposition to embrace novelty, China's Gen Z is a natural fit for the Metaverse. The compelling allure of the Metaverse, a world popularized by the gaming industry, is not confined to this sector alone. Its scope has diversified to encompass fields such as fashion, advertising, tourism, and finance. In doing so, it has significantly redefined the shopping experience, making virtual shopping a burgeoning reality.

Higher Interactivity, Better Engagement

In the virtual shopping realm, customers enjoy the privilege of interacting with other shoppers and brand representatives from the cozy confines of their homes. They can even experiment with trying on products virtually. This dynamic approach to shopping paves the way for brands to amplify their engagement time with consumers.

In fact, it has been observed that consumers spend seven times more of their time immersed in a virtual 3D shopping experience than they would on a conventional static website. This was supported by a study from Daxue Consulting, which revealed that customers typically spend 14 minutes in a 3D shopping environment, compared to less than 2 minutes on a standard website. One should, however, keep in mind that the study lacks specific details on participant activities and does not prove long-term consumer enjoyment or preference for virtual 3D shopping experiences.

The remarkable appeal of this enhanced shopping experience is also evident in the increased conversion rates, which have spiked by an impressive 70%. Furthermore, the encouraging return on investment (ROI) statistics cannot be ignored. Retailers venturing into virtual shopping experiences have reported a monumental 450% surge in ROI — a clear indication of the overwhelmingly positive response from consumers. Consequently, the immersive and unique nature of virtual shopping within the Metaverse is gaining widespread attention, offering intriguing possibilities for the future of retail in China.

Augmented Reality in Fleshing Out the Metaverse 

AR emerges as the catalyst that elevates the Metaverse's immersive nature, bringing the concept of a “mixed medium experience” to life. By seamlessly integrating the digital realm with our tangible world, AR forges a critical bridge linking the Metaverse with reality. In theory it plays an integral role in orchestrating an immersive shopping experience, allowing customers to engage with other shoppers, experiment with products, and arguably relish the thrill of a real-world shopping adventure. 

In light of this burgeoning potential, companies like Kivisense have engineered innovative Web AR try-on solutions, a breakthrough that numerous enterprises have eagerly integrated into their websites. Renowned global brands such as Farfetch and Gucci have launched AR Clothing try-on facilities, harnessing this technology to animate their apparel along with the customer's movements. This delivers a realistic shopping encounter by transcending geographical barriers.

The Other Side of the Medallion 

Despite all the developments we have experienced so far, the consumer world remains in the experimental phase, familiarizing itself with the intricacies of virtual shopping. The question lingers whether AR-powered virtual shopping might eventually supplant traditional shopping methods. A noteworthy challenge arises from the fact that AR has yet to accurately replicate the “true fit” of a product, a crucial element in clothes shopping. 

This gives rise to speculation that AR may need to evolve further to capture this aspect accurately or it may find its niche within specific consumer shopping categories, such as jewelry, where the fit is of secondary importance. While AR undoubtedly enhances the Metaverse shopping experience, its future trajectory hinges on its ability to replicate crucial aspects of the traditional shopping experience, or capitalize on areas where its unique capabilities can truly shine.


Going back to the bigger topic, the Metaverse, it is evident that the netizens of China have other concerns about the very nature of this virtual world, as well as its potential impact on users. A study by iiMedia Research reveals that more than two thirds (69.8%) of respondents in China stated they are concerned that the Metaverse might cause addiction to the virtual world. Another common concern of respondents (48%) was the exacerbation of real-life social phobia caused by the Metaverse. In addition, about a quarter (25.6%) mentioned privacy exposures as a concern regarding the Metaverse, while a little above one fifth (21.3%) did not see the Metaverse having much of an impact.

Despite Concerns, the Metaverse Has a Bright Future in China 

The Metaverse, an amalgamation of augmented and virtual reality technologies, is dramatically transforming the eCommerce landscape in China, influencing a myriad of sectors such as gaming, fashion, advertising, tourism, and finance. The Chinese population has exhibited a well-spread understanding and positive perspective on this concept, embracing the reshaped shopping experience that allows increased interaction, virtual product trials, and extended time spent in immersive 3D environments, leading to amplified conversion rates and return on investment for retailers. 

AR plays a pivotal role in enriching the Metaverse's immersive quality, merging the digital and physical realms to cultivate interactive and captivating shopping experiences. Innovative AR solutions, such as those developed by Kivisense and adopted by global brands like Farfetch and Gucci, are progressively transforming shopping into a realistic event that is both geographically unrestricted and accessible. However, as consumers continue to navigate the intricacies of AR-powered virtual shopping, questions remain whether AR could eventually supersede traditional shopping methods, particularly given the current challenges in accurately emulating the "true fit" of clothing. AR may require further development to overcome these hurdles or may find its forte in specific shopping categories, like jewelry, where fit is less crucial. 

At the same time, despite the promising prospects of the Metaverse, there are legitimate concerns, such as potential addiction to the virtual world, the exacerbation of real-life social phobia, and privacy issues. The future trajectory of the Metaverse in China will hinge not only on technological advances and adoption but also on addressing these broader social implications. Yet, it's also worth noting that a portion of individuals believe the Metaverse might not have a significant impact, underscoring the diverse viewpoints and the evolving nature of this field.

Source: Daxue Consulting, iiMedia Research, Statista, ecommerceDB