Remember the metaverse? In 2022, the metaverse was the tech topic du jour, but seemed to have been pushed to the backburner by ChatGPT and generative AI last year. However, new data from CivicScience show that interest in the metaverse – specifically NFTs (non-fungible tokens) – has been quietly gaining traction in the background.

A total of 15% of U.S. adults say they have previously invested in NFTs, a 66% climb from 2022. More Americans without NFT experience are also interested in investing in NFTs. Although the majority still remains uninterested or unfamiliar with NFTs, the past two years have witnessed steady growth in NFT investment interest.

Despite less time in the spotlight, NFTs are becoming less obscure, yet many people still remain uncertain about what they are. Today, CivicScience data show 1-in-3 of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat’ familiar with NFTs and how they work, just a hair higher than 2022 numbers (32%).

However, what has grown significantly is interest, as 1-in-3 U.S. consumers also report they are interested in ‘investing in tech alternatives to financial assets (such as NFTs and cryptocurrency) that exist outside of traditional financial structures,’ which has more than doubled since 2022 (16%).

Take Our Poll: In general, do you think NFTs are a good investment or a bad investment? 👾

Virtual Fashion Is Heating Up

What are NFT investors purchasing? For anyone needing a refresher, NFTs are unique digital assets verified on the blockchain, which can be purchased with cryptocurrency, used in the metaverse and some gaming platforms, such as The Sandbox, Decentraland, or Roblox, and traded on marketplaces. They can be collectible art items, virtual apparel to outfit an avatar, or even virtual real estate in the metaverse – just to name a few categories. One area that appears to have gained significant interest is virtual fashion, such as digital clothing, shoes, and accessories.

At 16%, experience purchasing virtual apparel is on par with the overall percentage of U.S. consumers who have invested in NFTs, more than doubling since 2022. Interest among people who have not yet made a virtual fashion purchase is also up this year, while awareness of virtual fashion has grown.

As expected, NFT interest and awareness is highest among younger adult audiences. One-quarter of Gen Z adults say they have purchased a virtual apparel item, while just one-quarter have never heard of virtual apparel.

Major designer labels, such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many others are selling branded digital assets that can be purchased. The luxury market is hot among this crowd. Additional data show 64% of people with virtual apparel experience have purchased an NFT from a luxury fashion brand, and 43% said they would purchase one again.

Join the Conversation: Have you bought or sold any NFTs within the past three months?

Additional NFT Insights from the CivicScience InsightStore™:

  • Virtual and augmented reality products could propel NFT growth: 48% of of VR headset owners have invested in NFTs, and an additional 19% intend to invest. More than 40% of people who plan to purchase a VR headset are also interested in investing in NFTs.
  • Interest in virtual fashion exceeds interest in virtual real estate: 9% of consumers say they’ve purchased virtual real estate in 2024, a percentage that’s tripled since 2022.
  • Plans to purchase: 9% of U.S. adults say they are ‘very’ likely to invest in an NFT in the next few months, 13% say they’re ‘somewhat’ likely.

NFTs are certainly an area to watch moving forward, especially with the entrance of new AR/VR products into the market.

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