Walmart launches Roblox metaverse experiences6 min read

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Walmart’s Universe of Play Paw Patrol experience on Roblox. Image: Walmart.

Today, Walmart opened new immersive experiences on metaverse platform Roblox. This is an effort to engage the next generation of media consumers, as well as, hopefully, Walmart shoppers.

Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play are open to the global Roblox community of over 52 million daily users, with a focus on consumers ages 17 to 24. Walmart’s virtual hubs on the site will invite users to explore, play virtual games, listen to music and see other entertainment, as well as collect virtual merchandise, known as “verch.”

Why we care. Retailers like Macy’s and Old Navy have gotten their feet wet in the metaverse, reaching a subset of their broad audience who likes to delve in virtual promotions and NFTs. A recent study suggested that consumers are attracted to metaverse experiences addressing key interests like music and travel, and they’re less interested in products when they go virtual.

Walmart has built these sites with this in mind. They align with many of the younger consumers’ key interests and will enhance their Walmart experience.

Dig Deeper: How brands are joining the metaverse with virtual experiences

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From livestreaming to Roblox virtual experiences. Over the last year and a half, Walmart has accelerated its livestreaming strategy, which includes shoppable video livestreams on platforms like TikTok. Even though watching a livestream video doesn’t require a VR headset or a virtual avatar, it’s a virtual experience in that many people are engaged remotely at once. This got the company thinking about a metaverse-like platform like Roblox and its fast growing 17-24 age audience.

“It’s about meeting customers where they are online,” said Justin Breton, brand experiences and strategic partnerships director for Walmart, in an interview with MarTech. “We wanted to show up in a virtual sense in a way that is authentic to the audience that’s there on Roblox. Our conversations with Roblox were insightful and we aligned a perfect storm of discovery.”

Electric Island DJ experience at Walmart Land on Roblox. Image: Walmart.

Top-funnel for now. The Immersive games and other experiences are aimed at discovery of the Walmart brand and their products at the top of the marketing funnel. Over time, as users engage more, there will be more opportunities for consumers to make transactions, with both virtual and real-life merchandise, according to Breton, who also says Walmart is early in their strategic process regarding the metaverse.

“This is an opportunity to show up where consumers 17 to 24 actively are and represent our brand and get them to think about Walmart differently,” said Breton.

To drive users to the Walmart hubs, the retailer is using paid and earned media, both in-game and on platforms besides Roblox.

Walmart Land. Because this platform is a massive virtual landscape, Walmart is using the metaphor of “isles” to mark off their specific regions of the game. Internally, Walmart is also referring to these “isles” as potential “aisles” in a virtual shopping experience.

Roblox users can now visit Walmart Land and play 3D games via their avatars. There are currently three experiences built off of Walmart Land, each with their own spinoff activities.

For instance, on Electric Island, avatars can traverse an interactive piano walkway, engage in a dance challenge and play a cross-promotional trivia game hosted by Netflix.

In October, Walmart Land will host a motion-capture concert on Electric Island, dubbed “Electric Fest.” There, users will see performances by YUNGBLUD, Madison Beer and Kane Brown.

Walmart Land’s Netflix trivia game on Roblox

House of Style includes an oversized cosmetics obstacle course and a roller-skating rink, as well as a virtual dressing room. It features brand tie-ins for fashion and beauty labels aligned with the audience demo, such as af94, UOMA by Sharon C, ITK by Brooklyn & Bailey, Lottie London, Bubble and others.

Walmart’s Universe of Play. Linked to Roblox’s Universe of Play, Walmart’s version will feature interactive games and toys, just as the holiday season picks up.

Here, users can earn virtual coins and other virtual goods, aka “verch.” Key brand tie-ins for Walmart’s Universe of Play include Jurassic World, Paw Patrol and Razor Scooters.

“Verch is very much a part of our strategy,” said Breton. “At launch all verch will be available through meaningful discovery, for instance by going to the top of Electric Island and playing the dance-off challenge. The game mechanics unlock tokens for virtual goods. From there, we’re looking at ways to expand verch to benefit the business.”

Users can interact in these virtual experiences using a laptop or desktop, their iPhone or Android phone, an Xbox console, or the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headsets.

Walmart’s Universe of Play in Roblox, with Jurassic World tie-in experience. Image: Walmart.

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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