As the largest retail presence on Roblox, Walmart is turning the heads of both businesses and consumers waiting to see if this venture into the metaverse is successful. But despite skepticism from some audiences, it is evident that Walmart’s entrance into Roblox’s Livetopia has been done with a focus on fitting in, as opposed to taking over.
The balance of risk and reward for brands entering a new space, particularly one with such a dominant gaming audience, has always been delicate. A decade ago we watched as countless brands floundered on social media, posting traditional media assets and advertising and wondering why users resented their presence on the platforms. Their lack of success was directly attributable to their failure to understand why users came to the platforms, and the language and gestures that dominated the environment.
Now, ten years later, to be successful in the metaverse, brands must first have a clear understanding of the habits, motivations, and language of users.
Understanding the Language of Content
Language plays a crucial role in nearly every human interaction; but in today’s world the concept of language expands far beyond the spoken or written word. Memes, emoji, and TikTok trends are now just as important in communication, building the foundations of the language of content. As user generated content continues to dominate the most popular platforms, brands must continue to monitor and educate themselves on the evolution of language. How do consumers create and consume this content, and in what ways are they accepting of and receptive to brand involvement?
Finding your audience where they gather and speaking their language are two of the most basic tenets of advertising. For Gen Z, the metaverse is quickly becoming a primary location, and their forms of communication are constantly evolving. The specific methods of outreach in the metaverse are still in their infancy, but are quickly evolving to include immersive experiences and virtual billboards designed to align with the preferred methods of communication for users. In the Roblox world, immersive experiences and gaming form the basis for user motivation, and have shaped the methods and mediums of communication between users and the brands that have entered the space.
With its entrance into Livetopia, Walmart has made conscious decisions to speak the language of users, facilitating an experience that aligns with the user motivations on the platform while increasing its exposure to an audience with which it wants to improve its relationship. The retailer partnered with Gen Z consultancy IF7 to construct and deploy the experience, leveraging the group’s knowledge and relationship with the Livetopia developers to create an authentic experience within the Roblox world.
IF7 CEO, Harley Block, told Adweek, “Users love anytime [anything] new is added to the world in an organic and additive way. The whole mantra of these role-playing town and city games is you’re exploring locations and buildings and retail that are normally in your life.”
Unlike many online experiences that actively promote purchase behavior, Walmart’s Livetopia location does not offer any products for purchase, nor does it advertise the ability to buy the real versions of products seen in the aisles at a physical store. Instead, the virtual store is the backdrop for several games users can choose to play, tying to the overall role play experience in Livetopia. The strategic value of the games is not limited to brand awareness however, winning the games opens a portal to Walmart Land where users are offered more immersive experiences and the opportunity to make purchases.
Walmart Is Betting on Immersive
Roblox is far from Walmart’s first or only play in the immersive space. Looking back to 2017 the brand partnered with a digital agency to create a virtual shopping experience at South by Southwest, showcasing the power of virtual reality in retail. In the years since their commitment to emerging technology has only increased, with resources deployed for 3D modeling, 3D Google search, virtual shopping, and augmented reality.
Time will tell if Walmart’s latest innovations are successful, but it is clear that this time around, efforts have been made to align the activations in the space with the desires of the user base as closely as possible. In the case of Livetopia, success will be connecting with the Gen Z market ;“this is our opportunity to start to drive meaningful engagement,” says Director of Brand Experiences and Strategic Partnerships, Justin Breton.
Success in these areas for a retailer as large as Walmart provides compelling evidence for brands across verticals to follow. However, greater return, in perceptions, sales, and loyalty, is likely for brands who take the leap with Walmart instead of waiting for concrete proof.
How Brands Will Succeed in the Metaverse
We are still in the days of innovators and early adoption for the metaverse, with the majority of brands still curious but not committed to allocating resources to this new frontier. To drive success through immersive technologies, from both an experiential and business objective perspective, there are several key actions brands must make.
Emphasize Language of Content Education
History cannot repeat itself with brands transitioning assets developed for one platform directly onto another. Educate internal and partner teams on how the brand can enhance a user experience in these immersive spaces, not distract from it.
Invest in Quality Assets and Ownership
3D, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) are the future of branded experiences, but they require specialized assets designed to impress in a high resolution environment. Investing in quality assets that can be deployed across multiple immersive experiences from the start acts as a catalyst for effective and compelling activations, from 3D product configurators to the top results in Google’s 3D search results.
Find the Right Partner
The opportunities for innovation in this space are endless, but require specialized knowledge and talent to derive the greatest value. For the majority of brands, bringing this knowledge in-house is time and cost prohibitive. Finding a partner who is dedicated to understanding and innovating around the dynamic world of immersive technologies and the metaverse is an unmatched advantage in becoming an industry leader and stand out success.
Dopple brings the human element to an immersive eCommerce experience through 3D visualization. Our team consists of experts in the art, technology, and psychology that sits at the center of today’s most exciting innovations. Now is the time to capitalize on a market in its infancy, with a team and platform built for the scale and impact of tomorrow.
Find out more today.