American multinational retail corporation Walmart is entering the metaverse with the launch of Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on online gaming platform Roblox.
Loosely defined, the metaverse is a virtual universe where users have access to digital avatars that let them “live” in this digital world. Walmart Land will feature a virtual store of merchandise for avatars, which match what customers may find in Walmart’s stores and on its website. Walmart’s Universe of Play will have “The year’s best toys,” the company said, adding that “The Roblox community can explore different toy worlds to earn coins and badges for cool virtual goods, or complete epic challenges to build a personal trophy case, unlock secret codes and more.”
Walmart has announced that it is “experimenting with new ways to reach shoppers, particularly after seeing the pandemic shake up shopping habits and fuel consumers’ engagement with social media, apps and gaming websites”.
The retailer has hosted shoppable livestreaming events on TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. It has created meal recipes through a partnership with Meredith, the media company that owns Allrecipes, Parents and Better Homes & Gardens. It has also rolled out an augmented reality-powered tool on Pinterest that allows shoppers to see how furniture or decor would look in their own homes.
Roblox will serve as a testing ground for Walmart as it considers moves in the metaverse and beyond, said William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer.
“The experiences are designed with the next generation of shoppers in mind, particularly Gen Z, generally defined as around age 25 or younger,” White said, adding that the company is looking to “learn from the partnership”.
Walmart had reportedly filed for metaverse-related trademarks in January 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, indicating that the company is “connecting the dots between the virtual and physical worlds”.
White it is not clear how Walmart will make money from its immersive experiences, for now gamers can earn tokens and other rewards to put toward virtual merchandise on Roblox.
Meanwhile, Roblox as an online gaming platform has gained much popularity, particularly with Generation Z. As of June 30, with a market value of about $21.2 billion, Roblox has 52.2 million daily active users, 11.3 billion engagement hours, 12 million creators, and 32 million experiences, according to the company’s website.
The platform reportedly makes most of its money from in-app purchases, but is testing online advertising and plans for a broader ad push next year.
As Roblox’s userbase has grown, more brands and personalities have also used Roblox for their metaverse business. In July, electronics giant Samsung announced the launch of Samsung Space Tycoon on Roblox. Reality TV star Paris Hilton created an island called Paris World on Roblox in December last year, and played an electronic set of music on New Year’s Eve on her virtual island. Popular designers like Ralph Lauren and teen-oriented brands like PacSun. Sports footwear brand Vans has a virtual skate park in Roblox.
The interest in metaverse is increasingly growing with consulting firm McKinsey & Company said in June 2022 report that the metaverse is expected to generate $5 trillion by 2030. Meanwhile, US-based investment bank, Citi, in a report issued in April 2022, predicted that the metaverse economy could grow to between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030.