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Walmart is entering the metaverse with two experiences premiering on Roblox.

Walmart is entering the metaverse with two experiences premiering Monday on the online gaming platform Roblox. 

The retail giant’s first foray into the virtual world includes a toy drop blast, a music festival featuring hot artists, a range of games, and a virtual merchandise store, or “verch”, similar to what customers find in Walmart stores and on its website. These two experiences are called Walmart Land and Walmart Gaming Universe. 

Walmart is experimenting with new ways to reach shoppers, especially after the pandemic changes shopping habits and increased consumer engagement with social media, apps, and gaming. 

The big-box retailer has hosted shoppable streaming events on TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. It created the recipes in partnership with media company Meredith, which owns Allrecipes, Parents, and Better Homes and Gardens. It also launched an augmented reality tool on Pinterest that allows buyers to see what furniture or furnishings would look like in their homes. 

Walmart is using Roblox as a testing ground as it considers moving in and out of the metaverse, said William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer. Experiences will be designed with the next generation of shoppers in mind, specifically Gen Z, generally defined as those around 25 years of age or younger, he said. White said the company wants to learn from the partnership. 

Walmart has two experiences in Roblox. In Walmart Land, there are giant versions of beauty items sold at the retailer’s stores and website.

“How do we promote the importance of cultural discussion? How do we develop community and commitment? How do we drive brand acceptance among a younger audience? “he said. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve here.” Walmart quietly applied for brands associated with the metaverse earlier this year. Some brands have shown interest in making or selling virtual goods and have offered users both virtual currency and non-fixable tokens, or NFTs. 

White declined to say whether or how Walmart uses those brands. Walmart is not currently making money from its immersive experiences.

Players can earn tokens and other rewards that they can spend on Roblox virtual goods. National brands such as toy brand L.O.L. Surprise! and Skullcandy headsets were added to the experience based on their popularity among younger Roblox players — not based on payment, he said. 
However, Walmart could monetize it in the future if it charges for brand engagement or tries to convert people’s virtual experiences into actual store visits or online purchases, White said. Madison Beer, Kane Brown, and Yungblud perform at Walmart Land’s October “Electric Fest” virtual concert. 

Walmart is trying to connect the dots between the virtual and physical worlds. 
The Universe of Play features games that feature Walmart’s list of holiday season favorites, such as Razor scooters, Paw Patrol, and Jurassic World characters. Walmart Land features an obstacle course featuring oversized products from the retailer’s Gen Z beauty brands, such as Bubble skincare and makeup by Sharon C. Uoma, as well as a virtual dressing room with clothing from exclusive fashion lines such as Free Assembly. 
Roblox gained many new users during the COVID pandemic and debuted on the stock market last year.

According to the company, the gaming platform grew from 32.6 million daily active users to more than 52 million in 2020. It has historically attracted more young children and teenagers, but the company says it will attract users from a wider age range. 

The platform makes most of its money from in-app purchases, but is experimenting with online advertising and plans to do more next year. 
Roblox has a market value of about $21.2 billion, but its stock has fallen nearly 66% this year. 

As Roblox’s user base grows, more retailers and brands have been added. These include high-end designers like Ralph Lauren and teen brands like PacSun. Sports shoe brand Vans has a virtual skate park on Roblox. 

In its annual blog post, Roblox showed the success of brand experiences, including the main destinations for users  17 and older. These include Nikeland, where human avatars can participate in a dunk contest or try on the company’s gear, and Gucci Garden, where users can explore a store of limited-edition virtual items and avatars can pose.

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