Walmart enters the metaverse on Roblox

Discussion
Source: Walmart
Sep 28, 2022

Walmart has moved to the metaverse. The retail giant on Monday launched two immersive experiences on the Roblox gaming platform.

Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play are the retailer’s first attempts to connect visitors with virtual merchandise (AKA verch) that have real life matches on walmart.com and in the chain’s stores.

”We’re showing up in a big way — creating community, content, entertainment and games through the launch of Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play,” William White, chief marketing officer, Walmart U.S. said in a statement. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there. So, we’re focusing on creating new and innovative experiences that excite them, something we’re already doing in the communities where they live, and now, the virtual worlds where they play.”

Walmart Land’s debut includes three experiences to help connect with Roblox enthusiasts — Electric Island, House of Style and Electric Fest.

The retailer said that Electric Island has been “Inspired by the world’s greatest music festivals” and features a dance challenge and a Netflix trivia experience with Noah Schnapp from “Stranger Things.”

House of Style comes with a virtual dressing room, a cosmetics bar and a roller skating rink.

Electric Fest will debut next month, allowing uses’ avatars to jump back into Electric Island to take part in motion-capture concerts featuring recording artists such as Madison Beer, Kane Brown and YUNGBLUD.

Walmart’s Universe of Play will bring popular toys from its stores to different worlds where users can earn coins to acquire virtual goods or complete challenges to unlock secret codes. A Walmart blimp will drop toys throughout users’ time in the Universe of Play.

The experience will include five new immersive games that include products from L.O.L. Surprise!, Jurassic World, Paw Patrol, Magic Mixies and Razor Scooters. Virtual adventures will be part of the experience, with avatars able to use items like hoverboards to move more quickly around the universe.

Mr. White told CNBC that the retailer is looking to the Roblox partnership to help meaningfully connect with consumers 25 and younger.

“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.“

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Walmart taking the right approach with its first foray into the metaverse? Will this help achieve the relevancy it seeks with younger consumers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The gamification of retail is a powerful way for companies like Walmart to speak Gen Z’s language."
"Novelty is always an attractor, but it doesn’t mean sustainability and meaningful ROI. Let’s revisit in 2-3 years and see what has or has not materialized for retail verch."
"Lowering the average age of your customer is difficult to do but essential for a company’s long-term growth. Walmart is innovating in ways few would have expected pre-pandemic"

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16 Comments on "Walmart enters the metaverse on Roblox"


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Dion Kenney
BrainTrust
2 months 8 hours ago

At this stage, the metaverse is still conceptual for most of the population. There may be some early adopters that will try the technology as a gateway to shopping, but it is a long way to mainstream acceptance. We anticipate many changes in the technology, the devices to access it, and the marketing models for capturing hearts and minds before this becomes a mainstream retail phenomenon.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Kudos to Walmart for putting a toe into the meta-world to see what works and what doesn’t. Metaverse is foreign to a lot of consumers so Walmart’s test will open up new possibilities from potentially a new audience segment that hasn’t seen Walmart as a destination for them. It will be interesting to follow this and understand the results.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Entering the metaverse can certainly help to keep the younger consumer engaged with Walmart. The other side of the coin is whether entry into the metaverse can attract members of this age group who were not Walmart customers before…

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

OK, I absolutely love this. Walmart’s Roblox experience checks so many brand-building boxes, and it’s beautifully executed. Whether they actually sell stuff is not important. They have found a way to be relevant, engaging, entertaining and, most importantly, integrated into their (new) target audience’s lifestyle. Home. Run.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Great points Dave! This is a great way for Walmart to pilot the metaverse and hopefully attract younger customer segments. Engagement is the key!

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Walmart has the right approach. Most customers want to be entertained and engaged by the metaverse, which is where Walmart is pitching its tent with these new ventures. Trying to partner with younger consumers is smart as this is the cohort where Walmart currently under-indexes and needs to do more to convert people into shoppers. Only time will tell what the impact of this activity yields, but it is a sensible experiment and has some solid thinking behind it.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Moving to the metaverse keeps Walmart relevant by reaching young consumers where they already spend loads of time. The gamification of retail is a powerful way for companies like Walmart to speak Gen Z’s language.

Walmart will boost engagement and loyalty by aligning with the fun, social and addictive Roblox platform. Robux currency will be a 2022 holiday bestseller as more tweens play, socialize and buy “verch” online.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

Showing up on a platform like Roblox adds relevancy — and perhaps sales, too. Historically, marketers must test new channels, and Walmart’s test and learn approach is a great one.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

A company like Walmart (and Target, Amazon, etc.) needs to be leading the charge into the metaverse. While many people don’t yet understand what it is, that isn’t a reason to hold off. If the retailer does hold back, they will be playing catch-up and keep-up with others. It’s an extension of the digital experience that shouldn’t be ignored..

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Lowering the average age of your customer is difficult to do but essential for a company’s long-term growth. Walmart is innovating in ways few would have expected pre-pandemic. The online Roblox gaming platform has 50 million daily active users, two-thirds of whom are under the age of 16. Bravo to Walmart for experimenting with Walmart Land and Universe of Play. Doubters can point to the failed buzz and excitement for Second Life 20 years ago, but a lot has happened in the interim, and Walmart can’t afford to miss an opportunity to connect with Gen Z.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The old strategy of going where the customers are is as relevant as ever. Walmart’s metaverse collaboration with Roblox enables them to connect with the future generation of consumers, Gen Z. Walmart has relentlessly invested in innovation and technological capabilities and in positioning the brand to remain relevant in the age of a digital-first customer and potentially a customer who will engage with the brand across various channels.

While there is a clear momentum building up with the metaverse, we are still far from Walmart and others fully monetizing off of this new engagement platform. For the moment, Walmart has taken a wise strategic approach to align with Roblox, a well-established presence within the Metaverse. It will be interesting to see how this partnership evolves and matures over time.

Tara Kirkpatrick
BrainTrust
It’s a step in the right direction and will have compounding value. The innovative advertising approach to promoting actual items from the store in these gaming experiences is highly likely to resonate with Gen Z/Alpha who have growing distrust in traditional ads and even influencers. A recent survey by Klarna found that Gen Z consumers trust buying from brands over influencers and retailers. Walmart loses its big-box retailer appearance in the metaverse and builds its brand. Moving into the metaverse via Roblox is smart given its active and young user base. We have seen Chipotle’s Roblox restaurant game releases correlate to increasing mobile app engagement, and in fact it has the highest rate of engagement among the top 30 quick-service restaurant apps. Walmart would be wise to follow Chipotle’s example to drive metaverse to mobile to real world conversion. When Chipotle launched a menu item in its Roblox restaurant this month, it gave codes to gamers that joined Chipotle Rewards via its mobile app to get the Garlic Guajillo Steak for free in the real… Read more »
Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

I give credit to Walmart for trying — it’s certainly not a place for me. And whether it’s a place for Gen Z or anyone that’s beneficial to Walmart will take time to unfold. Novelty is always an attractor, but it doesn’t mean sustainability and meaningful ROI. Let’s revisit in 2-3 years and see what has or has not materialized for retail verch.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I am pleasantly surprised that there is so much positive sentiment among fellow panelists. However, I am not as enthusiastic if this is really an effort to get a younger audience. There is no passion for the Walmart brand, it is probably hard enough for Nike to pull off a Roblox success and there is tons of passion around the brand. There are likely better ways to be relevant to younger consumers; bring some interactive tools into the education system, make the stores more interesting with pop-ups, do something interesting on Youtube, bring concerts into the stores or parking lots, elevate the conversation about causes the younger generations care about.

I don’t think there is any harm in them pursuing a Roblox or metaverse experience. Great learning for internal corporate on what some basic terms are, what’s possible, etc. But I think this it is a delusion passed between a highly paid agency and Walmart corporate executives without any sense of connection to actual younger consumers. Hope I am proved wrong.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Walmart is experimenting right now. No one quite knows the “right” approach to the metaverse until we really know what the metaverse is in the first place. It might interest folks involved in the Roblox gaming universe — but that appeals to far broader than Gen Z. And for sure, anything older folks are into will be shunned by the younger generation, so I don’t think this is targeted only to a single Gen.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

If executed correctly, entering the metaverse can aid Walmart in capturing the audience. Walmart needs to make sure that the gaming experience includes apt product placement and must refrain from bombarding viewers with ads. In order to achieve the intended results, it’s crucial to find an accurate blend.
However I am unsure about the plan’s financial viability. We must wait and see how the initiative turns out.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The gamification of retail is a powerful way for companies like Walmart to speak Gen Z’s language."
"Novelty is always an attractor, but it doesn’t mean sustainability and meaningful ROI. Let’s revisit in 2-3 years and see what has or has not materialized for retail verch."
"Lowering the average age of your customer is difficult to do but essential for a company’s long-term growth. Walmart is innovating in ways few would have expected pre-pandemic"

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