Walmart is going big into Roblox with two immersive experiences—Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play—bringing numerous games, virtual concerts and interactive experiences to an effort that’s also laden with virtual commerce opportunities for supplier brands.
Walmart enters metaverse with massive Roblox effort
“This is another step of reaching our customers in unexpected ways and in the places where they’re spending their time,” said William White, chief marketing officer of Walmart U.S. “We are excited to be one of the first major retailers to do this. I think that Walmart showing up in this way is just another example of how we're thinking about what's next, how we're reimagining unique, innovative ways to engage with our customers. And I think ultimately we're putting Walmart in a new light for many of our customers.”
Retailer presence in Roblox is still relatively light, but some inroads have been successful. Nike has had a reported 21 million visitors to its virtual Nikeland. American Eagle Outfitters has had a presence that included a virtual concert last month by Blu de Tiger. And Ralph Lauren last year launched a Winter Escape on Roblox.
Walmart’s presence appears to be among the biggest retail efforts yet.
It includes a House of Style virtual dressing room—with a strike-a-pose challenge and oversized cosmetics obstacle course and roller-skating rink—which will also be a place where brands sold at Walmart can offer virtual merchandise. Those initially include af94, UOMA by Sharon C., ITK by Brooklyn & Bailey, Lottie London and Bubble.
Besides the “verch,” which users can buy using virtual tokens they earn in elsewhere in Walmart Land, the retailer’s Roblox experience will include Electric Island, which includes an interactive piano walkway, dance challenge, Netflix trivia experience and DJ booth where users can learn to mix different beats. Coming in October will be Electric Fest, a motion-capture concert featuring artists that include Madison Beer, Kane Brown and Yungblud.
“Electric Island is something that is inspired by the world's great music festivals,” White said. “House of Style will feature the latest in fashion. We'll have a virtual store of verch featuring brands like Skullcandy and Free Assembly. We have a spectacular Ferris wheel that will give users a bird's eye glimpse of everything in Walmart Land. And then all along the way users can unlock tokens and badges that can be earned by playing games within the experience.”
The year’s best toys, as ranked by Walmart, will turn up in Walmart’s Universe of Play, where users can explore various toy worlds to earn coins for virtual goods, compete for trophies or unlock secret codes.
The Universe of Play is a smorgasbord of licensed gaming experiences, including five new immersive games with products and characters from L.O.L. Surprise!, Jurassic World, Paw Patrol, Magic Mixies and Razor Scooters.
Users will get chances to collect as many virtual toys as they can to earn coins redeemable for their avatar verch. Toys will be hanging throughout the Universe and fall from the sky, dropped by a Walmart blimp.
Roblox users mostly are not Walmart shoppers—at least not the shoppers who pull out the cash, debit or credit cards at checkout. Last year, the platform reported 54% of users are under 13, though executives have talked about older users, particularly in the 17-24 age range, growing fast.
As such, Roblox for Walmart is about what will help win the next generations of shoppers, be they Generation Z or Generation Alpha.
“When I think about KPIs that we're looking at, it's, about our relevance and cultural conversation,” White said. “It's about developing community and engagement. It's about brand favorability with younger audiences. This is not about direct commerce off of this platform.”
Winning the youngest shoppers is not really such an uphill battle, even for a brand that turned 60 this year. Various studies, including a recent one by Ypulse, shows Walmart continuing to score well with Gen Z. Walmart Land will give them and even younger users a chance to spend virtual coin on the sort of stuff sold in Walmart stores.
While Walmart has filed for a variety of metaverse-related trademarks, this appears to be the retailer’s biggest actual step into the metaverse so far.
“It’s an evolving space that we continue to monitor and think about the best ways we can show up,” White said. “We want to reach customers where they are. We want to build solutions for our customers in ways that are meaningful within those platforms.”