Enthusiasm for the metaverse and extended reality is highest in emerging countries

Survey finds the global public divided in their level of excitement about the new technologies

A new global survey conducted by Ipsos for the World Economic Forum finds about half of adults across 29 countries say they are familiar with the metaverse (52%) and have positive feelings about engaging with extended reality in daily life (50%). However, the survey points to wide differences in familiarity and favourability towards these new technologies across countries and demographic groups.

Excitement about extended reality is significantly higher in some emerging countries than it is in most high-income countries. In China, India, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia, more than two-thirds say they have positive feelings about the possibility of engaging with it. However, it is fewer than one-third in Japan, Great Britain, Belgium, Canada, France, and Germany agree.

Levels of familiarity with virtual reality, augmented reality, and the metaverse show a similar pattern. More than two-thirds in Turkey, India, China, and South Korea report being at least somewhat familiar with the metaverse, compared to fewer than one-third in Poland, France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Looking at South Africa and the awareness of these concepts, it is surprising to note the high-levels of familiarity, with more than half (51%) of online South Africans being familiar with augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse, increasing to 87% for virtual reality (VR).

Worldwide, familiarity and favourability towards the new technologies are significantly higher among younger adults, those with a higher level of education, and men, than they are among older adults, those without a college-level education, and women.

Despite significant differences in familiarity and enthusiasm, the global public widely expects that various types of metaverse apps using extended reality (XR) will significantly change people’s lives over the next decade – most of all virtual learning (for a 29-country average of 66%), digital entertainment in virtual reality (64%) and virtual work settings (62%).

South Africans have higher expectations, with 4 in 5 agreeing that there will be a change in virtual learning (82%), digital entertainment in virtual reality (78%) and virtual / enhanced gaming (77%). Slightly lower proportions, but still majorities, agree that changes will come in digital health resources (69% vs global a country average of 59%) and virtual travel and tourism (66% vs a global country average of 48%).

Expectations about the impact of metaverse apps also vary by country and by demographic characteristics, following the same pattern as favourability toward extended reality. However, differences are not as sharp, suggesting that, whether they look forward to it or not, most people expect their lives to be profoundly impacted by the new technologies in the coming years.

Read the World Economic Forum article

About this Study

These are the findings of a 29-country Ipsos survey conducted April 22 – May 6, 2022, among 21,005 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in 23 other countries, via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform.