With two new experiences that go live on Roblox on Monday, Walmart is making its metaverse debut.
A music festival with popular artists, a ton of different games, and a store of virtual goods, or “verch,” that mirrors what customers might find in Walmart’s physical stores and on its website are all part of the retail giant’s first foray into the virtual world.
Walmart’s Universe of Play and Walmart Land are the names of the two experiences.
Walmart is experimenting with new methods of customer engagement, especially in light of the pandemic’s impact on consumer engagement with social media, mobile apps, and gaming websites.
On TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, the big-box retailer has hosted shoppable livestreaming events.
Through a collaboration with Meredith, the media company that owns Better Homes & Gardens, Parents, and Allrecipes, it has developed meal recipes. Additionally, it has launched an augmented reality-powered tool on Pinterest that enables customers to visualize how furniture or home accents will look in their own residences.
As it considers actions in the metaverse and beyond, Walmart will use Roblox as a testing ground, according to William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer. He claimed that the experiences were created with the upcoming generation of consumers in mind, particularly Gen Z, which is generally regarded as being between the ages of 25 and under. White stated that the business hopes to gain knowledge from the collaboration.
“How are we driving relevance in cultural conversation? How are we developing community and engagement? How are we moving the needle from a brand favorability [standpoint] with younger audiences?” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.“
Walmart secretly applied for trademarks relating to the metaverse earlier this year. Some of the trademarks expressed interest in producing or offering users virtual goods, virtual currency, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
White opted not to say whether or how Walmart will make use of those trademarks.
He claimed that for the time being, Walmart won’t profit from its immersive experiences. Tokens and other rewards can be earned by gamers and used to purchase virtual goods on Roblox. National brands, such as the toy company L.O.L. Surprise! and the headphones manufacturer Skullcandy, were integrated into the experiences without payment, he claimed, based on their appeal to Roblox’s younger gaming audience.
But in the future, Walmart might be able to profit from it by charging a brand for inclusion or by attempting to convert users’ virtual experiences into in-person or online store visits, according to White.
Madison Beer, Kane Brown, and Yungblud will perform at the “Electric Fest” virtual concert in October on Walmart Land. Walmart is attempting to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds.
Games from Universe of Play include popular holiday toy items from Walmart, including Razor scooters, Paw Patrol, and Jurassic World characters, which may encourage Roblox users to request them. Walmart Land features a virtual changing room with clothing from its exclusive fashion lines, such as Free Assembly, as well as an obstacle course made up of oversized items from the retailer’s Gen Z-focused beauty brands, such as Bubble skin care products and Uoma by Sharon C makeup.
During the Covid pandemic, Roblox attracted a lot of new users and made its stock market debut. According to the company, the number of daily active users on the gaming platform increased from 32.6 million in 2020 to over 52 million.
It has historically drawn more young kids and teens, but the company has said it is attracting users across a wider age range.
The platform makes most of its money from in-app purchases, but is testing online advertising and plans for a broader ad push next year.
Roblox’s market value is about $21.2 billion, but its shares are down nearly 66% so far this year. As Roblox’s userbase has grown, more retailers and brands have dived in. Those include higher-end designers like Ralph Lauren and teen-oriented brands like PacSun. Sports footwear brand Vans has a virtual skate park in Roblox.
In a year-in-review blog post, Roblox called out the success of brand experiences, including top destinations for users who are 17 or older.
These included Gucci Garden, where users could browse a boutique of limited-edition virtual items and avatars could strike a pose, and Nikeland, where users’ avatars could explore a dunk contest or try on the company’s gear.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)