London, UK. 14th December, 2021: From Fortnite to Facebook and Disney to Discord, recent discussions around the metaverse have opened up a whole new avenue for brands and retailers to capitalise on in-game opportunities, with a third (33%) of the UK gamers discovering new brands while playing computer games.

And the importance of brands in virtual domains cannot be overstated; according to new data from Wunderman Thompson Commerce – which surveyed over 2,000 respondents in the UK – over half (56%) of gamers are also more likely to buy from a brand that features in their favourite game. Furthermore, 33% will buy something that their favourite streamer has recommended or used and half would love to buy real-world items from within games, too.

Tapping into the importance of gamers’ digital identity is also a hot point for many; two-in-five (41%) consider their avatar to be a part of their identity and some go even further and put the same importance to looking good in-game (61%) as they do to looking good in real life (65%).

As Christmas fast approaches – and with consumers typically spending on average 29% more in this period than the average month – brands are sensing an opportunity around self-gifting gamers. Over three quarters (78%) plan to spend something over the holiday season on gaming, each expected to spend £139.15 on average.

Naji El Arifi, Head of Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, says: “Gaming offers something totally unique in the modern world; with the onset of climate change, Covid-19, the supply chain crisis and everything in between, the virtual world offers an unparalleled escape from reality. However, we’re increasingly seeing this escape turn into reality itself, with gamers no longer distinguishing between themselves and their avatars. This has the potential to completely change how brands connect with consumers and build their gaming commerce strategies; in-game products now have a dual meaning to people, which can be a dual gain for products as the physical and virtual worlds merge.

“This new form of reality, or, increasingly, the “metaverse”, has two important advantages: firstly, the appetite for gaming and virtual content is only increasing, meaning those prime movers that are thinking about their gaming commerce strategy today are likely going to reap the biggest rewards. And secondly, there is considerably less practical and logistical legwork for brands when it comes to selling digital products in-game. Brand placement in these virtual worlds is not just innovative engagement but an entirely new way to increase brand awareness and, ultimately, drive sales to a market we know is willing to spend.”

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