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Virtual Humans

Trend description

Virtual humans are the latest trend among Gen Z across various industries. With Gen Z being more familiar with virtual experiences and the virtual world, they are more likely to accept it, allowing digital avatars to be a part of their world. 

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Picture: Deloitte

Trend drivers

Virtual humans are the latest trend among Gen Z across various industries. According to Emergen Research, the global digital human market is forecasted to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 46.4 percent reaching $527.58 billion in 2030. Experts say that the digital-native generation, who will have the most spending power, is more welcoming to digital humans than ever. With Gen Z being more familiar with virtual experiences and the virtual world, they are more likely to accept it, allowing digital avatars to be a part of our world. As technology such as AI, computer graphics, and motion capture will become more advanced, the expression of digital humans will become closer to real humans. 

We especially see growth in China's virtual human market, forecasted to reach 42.58 billion by 2030, according to the industry service platform QbitAI. Virtual celebrities and service-oriented virtual humans are expected to drive the growth. Growing up in a digital world, Gen Z consumers no longer distinguish between what is real and virtual. Therefore, virtual creators could be seen as an extension of synthetic media. Netflix works as an extension of the movie theater and e-commerce as a store. Therefore virtual humans can be used as an extension of real humans.

The Influencer Marketing Factory conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to get their thoughts on virtual influencers. They have asked those who do follow virtual influencers where they do so and found that first place went to YouTube (28.7%), second place to Instagram (28.4%), third place to TikTok (20.5%), Facebook (14.6%), Twitter (4.6%), Spotify (2%), and other (1.2%). This opens up strategic opportunities for virtual humans to act as creators across multiple platforms. 
 

According to The Influencer Marketing Factory, 58% of American girls follow at least one virtual influencer and 35% of respondents said they have bought a product or service promoted by a virtual influencer. According to the Bold Creators Club, the virtual influencer market size was about 4.6 billion dollars in 2018. It is projected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) exceeding 26% from 2019-2025 according to Bolds Creators Club. According to a study conducted by Hype Auditor the core audience of virtual influencers is women between 18 and 34 years old (44.97%). There is also a large number of younger people between 13-17 years old (14.47%). That's double the average of regular human influencers, whose young audience averages about 7% of their entire audience.

WGSN has been tracking the rise of synthetic influencers since before 2018 when Lil Miquela first emerged. According to McDonnell the shift towards the creator economy has given virtual influencers a platform where the virtual influencers are also a creator while also being a creation themselves. 

Virtual Staff

Virtual staff can become a significant competitive advantage for beauty brands. Dermalogica has presented a virtual human designed to train its staff members. The virtual human, named Natalie, is helping educate Dermalogica's skin professionals about skin sciences. The goal is for her to train as many as 100,000 individuals worldwide. The training includes digitally stimulating the aging process and visually showing skin changes in a way that has previously been unreachable. The company plans to introduce new ways to use virtual humans this year and to use metaverse technology to train therapists around skin conditions. 

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Picture: Dermalogica

Imperfect Virtual Influencers 
 

Virtual influencers can be a marketing strategy for beauty brands wanting to stand out, engage and reach the tech-savvy generation. Virtual influencers have been welcomed by the fashion industry by being used in fashion magazines, on the catwalk and in campaigns.

The engagement rate of virtual influencers remains high. Virtual influencers have proven to engage with Gen Z with their ability to generate three times higher engagement rates than real-life influencers according to a Hype Auditor study. The future holds for beauty brands to use virtual influencers to benefit from their high engagement rates. Furthermore, virtual influencers offer the flexibility for brands to have more control over their collaborations. Furthermore, by using virtual influencers, beauty brands will position themselves as forward-thinking and innovative.

The imperfect virtual influencer Angie is created to challenge China's traditional beauty standards. Her down-to-earth persona has caused her to have 280,000 followers to date. Angie's imperfect appearance challenges conventional beauty standards. She has creased makeup, acne scars, thick thighs, and uneven skin. The imperfective virtual character is suggested to be more relatable amongst the younger generation than previously virtual influencers, reflecting traditional beauty ideals. 

 

Issues of using virtual humans. have already started to rise. "Like any disruptive technology, synthetic media has the potential for good and harm. Issues of representation, cultural appropriation, and expressive freedom are already a growing concern," Meta announced in a blog post. 


"To help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium and avoid potential hazards, Meta is working with partners to develop an ethical framework to guide the use of virtual influencers," Meta continued. Meta already has more than 200 virtual influencers on its platform and has acknowledged the risk.

Picture: About Her

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Douyin's virtual influencer Angie, created by Jesse Zhang

Virtual Celebrities

Celebrities like Snoop Dog and Paris Hilton have taken advantage of the benefits that the metaverse can offer to their careers. Snoop Dog has developed a "Snoopverse" in the sandbox, a digital replica of his California mansion, a place for pool parties, shopping, and virtual concerts. 

 

"I'm always on the lookout for new ways of connecting with fans, and what we've created in The Sandbox is the future of virtual hangouts, NFT drops, and exclusive concerts," Snoop Dogg said in a press release, according to Decrypt.

 

Paris Hilton has built a virtual island on Roblox, a digital replicate of her California home and closet, where players can run through her wardrobe and purchase her outfits. Justin Bieber also took advantage of the metaverse when he held a live virtual concert in November ahead of his 2022 tour. He partnered with the entertainment company Wave to create an immersive gaming experience while capturing the real-time motion of a live concert. Artists and celebrities can perform several virtual shows at different venues at once. 

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Picture: Variety

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Picture: Business Insider

Modeling Avatars

Elite World Group has partnered with Igoodi to create 3D avatars for their models. The 3D avatar is a digital twin of the models that is a copy of a real person in terms of body measurements, figure, complexion, and colors. Igoodi's technology is based on scans but can also provide smart body data. These measurements are exact down to the millimeter. This new technology can allow models to operate virtually at casting, events and bookings and reduce the carbon emission of travelling. 

 

In a press release, Elite World Group's CEO Paolo Barbieri said that in the future, the company would look into making catalogs of the avatar version of the actual model, which could allow a model to do two jobs at a time in the real world and the metaverse or move towards a virtual world, reducing the cost and environmental impact of travel. Vittoria Ceretti, Mariacarla Boscono, Kendall Jenner, Majesty Amare, Adut Akech, Isabeli Fontana, Pleun Keijers and Loli Bahia are only some of the models represented by the agency Elite World Group.

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Picture: WWD

Digital Twins

 

A digital twin is a virtual stimulation generated to reflect a physical object accurately. The digital twin market is expected to grow from USD 6.9 billion in 2022 to USD 73.5 billion by 2027; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60.6% from 2022 to 2027, according to markets and markets. When VR & Digital twins come together, it can open up opportunities for the wellness sector. Digital twins can be created so they look genetically identical to real humans. Digital twins could open up the opportunity for consumers to learn more about their bodies. Digital twins can become the "test dummies" for individuals and can be used to predict any outcome. A wellness brand selling supplements could see the impact on the digital twin if it took the supplement daily for ten years. Skincare brands could use digital twins to see how the outcome will be if people use the product consistently.

 

Furthermore, it could be possible for cosmetic clinics to predict everything from how the digital twin will recover from surgery to the reaction to medications. In wellness, it opens up opportunities to predict the body and skin response to specific treatments. Ultimately it would be possible to do surgery on the digital twin, before doing it in real life, on the person, and, as a result, get an increased understanding of individuals' genetics. 

 

Digital twins could predict the future of an outcome if a protocol is followed. This could, therefore, have the potential to change research. Metaverse wellness could open doors to new experiences and a new approach to health.

 

Unlearn.AI combines digital twin models with artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to accelerate the evaluation of clinical interventions. The company Virtonomy offers data-driven clinical trials on virtual patients. Similarly, The University of Miami has announced a research project which will use the power of digital twin to address sleep-loss problems. Furthermore, the company Nero twin is working on building virtual copies of people's brains. 

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Picture: Business Insider

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Picture: Computer World

Action Steps

01

Consider how you as a beauty or wellness brand could benefit from virtual influencers to create brand awareness and engage with Gen Z.

02

DESIGN

03

CONSULTING

Tap into how Metaverse wellness could open up doors to new experiences and a new approach to wellness.

Consider how your brand could benefit from predicting outcomes that digital twins can offer.

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