Walmart recently launched its own virtual reality on Roblox with virtual merch, games, and experiences. In its attempt to reach the Gen Z market, "Walmart Land" even includes VR concerts with popular musicians like Madison Beer and Yungblud.

When Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta, the idea of a more established “metaverse,” or virtual world, was fully born. For some of us, this is a completely brain-breaking concept to imagine. For others, the metaverse provides a whole new opportunity for a social world, not entirely separate from physical reality.

No matter your opinion on this new, burgeoning reality, it’s here to stay — at least for now. Especially with retail giants like Walmart now pushing their brand into the metaverse.

That’s right, as of late September, customers can access Walmart’s own virtual world on Roblox, a leading gaming platform.

Why are they doing this? And do they expect a big return in doing it? Let’s find out.

Walmart enters the metaverse

Source: Walmart

 

A few weeks ago, Walmart announced they were taking a step into the metaverse through a partnership with Roblox, a gaming platform that’s predominantly used by Gen Z. With it, Walmart has released two VR experiences:

  • Walmart Land — Walmart’s take on an entire virtual community, Walmart Land offers games that can win you tokens and badges, a “verch” store, and three experiences: Electric Island, House of Style, and Electric Fest.
  • Walmart’s Universe of Play — The Universe of Play has immersive games starring many items you can find in person as well, like products from Paw Patrol and Jurassic World. Users can also earn rewards that they can redeem for additional avatar merch.

Source: Walmart

 

In a huge attempt to make the brand recognizable to younger generations, Walmart’s virtual world even comes with a music festival featuring artists like Kane Brown, Madison Beer, and Yungblud. Plus, there’s a blimp (virtual, of course) that drops toys, and a ton of different game options.

There’s also a store of virtual merchandise, which is similar to what in-person Walmart customers can find in stores.

Read more: How the Metaverse Will Change Our Financial Landscape

Why is Walmart entering the metaverse?

Walmart didn’t decide to create a VR world just because it’s the cool thing to do (although, it does seem to be a very popular decision among major brands). There were two main reasons at play:

1. They’re trying to reach younger generations

It’s clear that Walmart has recognized that they (and many other retailers) have previously completely left Gen Z out of their marketing campaigns. Walmart’s CEO, William White, recently said that this new virtual experience is meant to reach this generation.

In turn, the idea seems to be that Gen Z will come to recognize the brand — one that has traditionally been associated with an older demo — in a positive light.

2. The pandemic changed the way we shop

During the pandemic, in-person shopping dropped substantially. Online shopping, on the other hand, skyrocketed. Even though the pandemic has lessened, online shopping continues to be one of the number one ways many of us shop.

In order to keep up with other big names (like, cough cough, Amazon), Walmart had to get creative. That’s what this next step offers them: a way to reach a new type of shopper where they’re at (or, at least, where Mark Zuckerberg says they’ll be at).

How will Gen Z respond?

It’s difficult to say exactly how Gen Z will respond to Walmart’s new universe, but Roblox’s success speaks for itself. With over 200 million monthly players, Roblox is an extremely popular platform. And about 70% of its users are Gen Z.

Gen Zers are also already used to living virtually, and a third of them say they would like to see brands expand into the metaverse, according to a Marketing Dive study. Plus, Gen Zers have no problem spending on gaming platforms. In fact, according to the same study, 20% of the polled Zoomers will spend their “fun” budgets on entertainment and in-game purchases in the next five years.

It also may surprise some, but Walmart is a brand favorite among Gen Z, according to a study by Morning Consult. It ranked no. 6, with Gen Z shoppers choosing Walmart over other big-box stores like Target.

Given the above stats, Walmart is making a significant branding decision — one that is likely to work in their favor in the future, as Gen Z ages up and becomes the dominant shoppers.

What other companies are doing the same thing?

Although Walmart is one of the first to partner with Roblox to create their own virtual world, they’re not the only one.

In addition to Walmart, you’ll see other big names in the Roblox world, including:

  • Nike — Nikeland, Nike’s virtual world on Roblox, includes arenas and fields, buildings, and games available to users. While the world is still growing, Nike has big plans to increase their product integrations.
  • Vans — Vans World, geared towards skateboarders, allows users to practice virtual skating techniques, design their own pair of Vans, and design their own skateboards.
  • Gucci — Gucci launched Gucci Garden back in May 2021. With themed rooms and avatars, Gucci’s VR allows users to try on virtual Gucci clothes created in collaboration with Roblox creator, Rook Vanguard.
  • Sony Music — Sony and Roblox have long been partners, with Lil Nas X performing the first-ever virtual concert on Roblox. Their partnership is expanding, with more (yet unnamed) musicians set to appear on the platform.
  • Spotify — Spotify launched Spotify Island on Roblox, becoming the first in the musical space to join the VR world. The island is intended to bring artists and listeners together to play interactive games. Each “island” is based on a theme or genre of music.

And this is just a small sampling of the companies that work with Roblox or who are investing in the metaverse.

For example, Google has invested a whopping $35.9 million into a private equity fund that goes towards metaverse projects.

Even those in the financial sector have invested. JP Morgan is one of the most prominent examples. They have a lounge in Decentraland, another VR world.

The bottom line

Walmart has officially gone virtual, launching Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on Roblox. In an effort to continue reaching Gen Z, Walmart is offering virtual concerts, merch, games, and more.

With Walmart already a favorite brand among some younger generations, the move appears to be a smart one on Walmart’s part.

Featured image: Sergei Elagin/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

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Christopher Murray is a professional personal finance and sustainability writer who enjoys writing about everything from budgeting to unique investing options like SRI and cryptocurrency. He also focuses on how sustainability is the best savings tool around. You can find his work on sites like MoneyGeek, Money Under 30, Investor Junkie, MoneyCrashers, and Time. You can find out more about Christopher on his website or via LinkedIn.