Walmart Journeys Into the Metaverse

The retail giant launched two Roblox experiences and doesn’t expect to profit from it—yet.

September 27, 2022

BENTONVILLE, Ark.—Walmart is entering the metaverse via Roblox with two immersive experiences: Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play.

Walmart Land includes a virtual store of merchandise, housing fashion, style, beauty and entertainment items; a Ferris wheel that offers players a view of the world; and unlockable tokens and badges that can be earned in various games and competitions. Walmart Land also has three experiences: Electric Island, House of Style and Electric Fest.

In October, Walmart Land will have a virtual concert called “Electric Fest” and will feature Madison Beer, Kane Brown and Yungblud.

In Walmart’s Universe of Play, users can explore different toy worlds to earn coins for virtual goods or complete challenges to build a personal trophy case, unlock secret codes and more.

“We’re showing up in a big way—creating community, content, entertainment and games through the launch of Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play,” said William White, chief marketing officer, Walmart U.S. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there. So, we’re focusing on creating new and innovative experiences that excite them, something we’re already doing in the communities where they live, and now, the virtual worlds where they play.”

Roblox will serve as a testing ground for Walmart as it considers moves in the metaverse and beyond, White told CNBC. He said the experiences are developed for the next generation of shoppers, including Gen Z.

Walmart said that it won’t make money off of its presence in the metaverse, but it could in the future by charging brands to appear in their experiences or converting a user’s virtual experience into a real-world store visit or online purchase.

“How are we driving relevance in cultural conversation? How are we developing community and engagement? How are we moving the needle from a brand favorability [standpoint] with younger audiences?” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.”

Roblox went from 32.6 million daily active users in 2020 to over 52 million, CNBC reports.

Other brands have already made their debut in the metaverse. Last year, Chipotle built a restaurant on Roblox’s gaming platform for a Halloween promotion, and the fast-casual restaurant launched a game and new virtual restaurant on the same platform. The restaurant looks like Chipotle’s original restaurant in Denver.

Chipotle loyalty program members also can trade in their reward points for Roblox gift cards on Chipotle’s app or website, plus Chipotle is making a special burrito available for order in the app that includes ingredients voted on by Roblox users and others in a Twitter poll.

Wendy’s recently opened a virtual restaurant in Horizon Worlds, the virtual reality game from Meta. McDonald’s has reportedly filed patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that would allow it to open a virtual restaurant in the metaverse that would deliver food online and in person. Chick-fil-A filed patents for a “Moo-taverse.”

A recent study found that 18% of restaurant consumers have participated in the metaverse, while 20% are familiar with the digital environment. The grab-and-go customer seems to be the most open to the metaverse, with 33% of grab-and-go customers being very or extremely familiar with the metaverse, more than double the share of either dine-in or either-or customers.

Consumers are metaverse curious. Eighty-three percent of consumers show interest in making purchases via the metaverse, according to research from Accenture, while 42% of survey respondents said they had visited a retailer in the virtual world to get advice, make a payment or browse a product range when shopping for a physical item. Fifty-six percent of respondents plan to in the next year. Among millennials, these figures increase to 51% and 61%, respectively.