Like Gap, Nike, Spotify, and numerous other big brands, Walmart is the latest firm to seek new opportunities in the metaverse, launching two new experiences in Roblox, strategically timed with the fourth-quarter holiday shopping period. While Fortnite, The Sandbox, and Decentraland have all played a part in the rise of the metaverse, Roblox appears to be attracting the most attention (and the company is looking to capitalize with a 3D ad business).
Walmart, which has maintained its position as the biggest retailer in the US despite fierce competition from Amazon, has launched Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play to “bring the best fashion, style, beauty and entertainment items directly to the global Roblox community of over 52 million daily users.” Walmart Land specifically features three unique areas: Electric Island, Electric Fest, and House of Style. The “electric” areas will focus on music festivals and offer motion-captured performances from artists while also providing a virtual DJ booth for users to try their hand at mixing their own beats. House of Style focuses on fashion and features numerous products from major brands along with a virtual dressing room.
Universe of Play, meanwhile, is effectively an interactive toy catalog, showcasing products and characters from L.O.L. Surprise!, Jurassic World, Paw Patrol, Magic Mixies, and Razor Scooters. Users can play games and try to collect as many virtual toys as they can, which then earns them coins that are redeemable for sprucing up their avatar. There’s even a virtual Walmart blimp that will occasionally drop toys into the universe. Of course, the whole experience is a not-so-subtle way to market the retailer’s brand and encourage younger shoppers to buy products this holiday season at their store or website (or to ask their parents to).
William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer, remarked to CNBC, “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? That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
For Walmart, the metaverse is another avenue to test with younger consumers, just as it did recently with shoppable livestreams on TikTok. The good news for the company is that Interpret data shows that consumers who are very interested in the metaverse already lean towards shopping at Walmart. Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that 57% of US consumers who report being very interested in the metaverse have shopped at Walmart (in-store or online) in the past three months. Amazon is just a hair behind at 56%, while Target comes in third at 43% of shoppers.