Walmart is entering the metaverse with two experiences launching Monday on the Roblox online gaming platform.
The retail giant’s first foray into the virtual world will feature a toy-dropping blimp, a music festival with featured artists, a ton of different games and a virtual merchandise store, or “verch,” that matches what customers want. They can be found in Walmart stores. stores and on their website.
The two experiences are called Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play.
Walmart is experimenting with new ways to reach shoppers, particularly after seeing the pandemic shake up shopping habits and boost consumer engagement with social media, apps and gaming websites.
The big retailer has hosted shoppable live streaming events on TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. She has created food recipes through a partnership with Meredith, the media company that owns Allrecipes, Parents, and Better Homes & Gardens. It has also launched an augmented reality tool on Pinterest that allows shoppers to see what furniture or decor would look like in their own homes.
Roblox will serve as a testing ground for Walmart as it considers moves into the metaverse and beyond, said William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer. He said the experiences are designed with the next generation of shoppers in mind, particularly Generation Z, generally defined as around 25 and under. White said the company is looking to learn from the partnership.
“How are we driving relevance in the cultural conversation? How are we building community and engagement? How are we moving the needle from a brand-friendly [point of view] with younger audiences? he said. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve here.”
Walmart quietly filed for metaverse-related trademarks earlier this year. Some of the trademarks indicated interest in making or selling virtual goods and offering users virtual currency as well as non-fungible tokens or NFTs.
White declined to share if or how Walmart will use those trademarks.
For now, he said Walmart won’t make money off of his immersive experiences. Players can earn tokens and other rewards to purchase virtual goods on Roblox. National brands, such as the toy label L.O.L. Surprise! and the Skullcandy headset, were included in the experiences based on their popularity with Roblox’s younger gaming audience, not based on pay, he said.
However, Walmart could make money in the future by charging a brand for listing or trying to turn people’s virtual experiences into real-world store visits or online purchases, White said.
Walmart Land’s October virtual concert “Electric Fest” will feature Madison Beer, Kane Brown and Yungblud.
Walmart is trying to connect the dots between the virtual and physical worlds.
Universe of Play has games that feature items from Walmart’s top toy list for the holiday season, like Razor scooters and characters from Paw Patrol and Jurassic World, a potential push for Roblox users to request them. Walmart Land has an obstacle course of oversized items from the retailer’s Gen Z-focused beauty brands, like skincare from Bubble and makeup from Uoma by Sharon C, and a virtual dressing room stocked with clothing from its exclusive fashion lines, such as Montaje Gratis.
Roblox attracted a lot of new users during the Covid pandemic and debuted on the stock market last year. The gaming platform grew from 32.6 million daily active users in 2020 to more than 52 million, according to the company. Historically, it has attracted more young children and teens, but the company has said it’s attracting users from a broader age range.
The platform makes most of its money from in-app purchases, but it is testing online advertising and plans a larger ad push next year.
Roblox’s market value is around $21.2 billion, but its shares are down nearly 66% year-to-date.
As Roblox’s user base grew, more retailers and brands jumped in. These include high-end designers like Ralph Lauren and teen-oriented brands like PacSun. The sports shoe brand Vans has a virtual skate park on Roblox.
In an annual review blog post, Roblox highlighted the success of brand experiences, including top destinations for users 17+. These included Nikeland, where people’s avatars can enter a dunk contest or try on company gear, and Gucci Garden, where users can browse a limited-edition virtual goods boutique and avatars can pose.