When we took a look at the data behind the buzz of the latest Burberry activation in Roblox, the value of these endeavors was clear: Roblox garners 50 million daily users, it enables brands like Spotify, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger to create immersive brand experiences, and it empowers users to trade branded goods to wear across its millions of spaces.
So what of NARS Cosmetics’ latest activation? From the creation of a Chinese-based virtual world to its recent NFT drop, this cosmetics and skin care brand’s latest foray into the metaverse follows suit in the form of limited Roblox items, much like Burberry’s recent Lola Bag drop.
But there’s one key difference, these limited drops coincided with NARS Color Quest, an activation allowing Roblox users to create their own make-up looks and complete challenges across four virtual tropical islands.
So, were these limited item drops successful? And did their coupling with an immersive, branded Roblox experience help them fare better than their Burberry counterparts? We took a look at the data, as well as what the Roblox community had to say, to find out.
On August 5th, with its virtual experience NARS Color Quest already live for over a month, the cosmetics brand announced its first set of limited items on Roblox, consisting of two versions of the Lip Crossbody Bag priced at 400 Robux or $5. A modest price, considering the real-life version will set you back around $200.
Just ten days later NARS announced a second limited drop in the form of the Light Reflecting Leather Moto Jacket, a layered item, making it the first of its kind on Roblox. Finally, on August 26, NARS Cosmetics dropped two more limited items in the form of two versions of the ‘Holographic Backpack’, priced at 300 Robux per unit, or $3.50. Each of these items were available in the Roblox Avatar Shop for a 24 hour period.
So, what does the data tell us about the community reaction to these items?
The community’s response to the first limited drop, the NARS Lip Crossbody Bags, was resoundingly positive, albeit relatively quiet. The second drop, however, tells a different story.
As the first item of layered clothing to launch in Roblox, NARS’ virtual outing received a healthy amount of attention. In fact, while NARS Color Quest was promoted a total of twenty-two times across their official Twitter, TikTok and Instagram channels, it was the content related to the Leather Moto Jacket limited item drop that garnered the most engagement.
With a 9.29% Twitter engagement rate, this response poses an unlikely question: Can limited item drops in isolation do a better job at boosting brand awareness and enriching community sentiment than branded, gamified virtual experiences can?
Selling over 800 units of the Lip Crossbody Bags after their drop on August 5, value on the secondary market for the 'NARS Lip Crossbody Bag 1.0' has risen as high as 6,674 Robux (31/08/22), an increase of over 1,500% from its original listing price of 400 Robux. Given the popularity of these items, further NARS Cosmetics limited drops must seem a no brainer for the brand.
But the community excitement surrounding the Light Reflecting Leather Moto Jacket hasn't quite reflected in its secondary market value. Roblox users are currently selling this item at an average price of 492 Robux, only a very slight increase in value from its original price.
Why? Possibly because while nearly 14,000 units of the jacket were sold and in circulation, just over 800 of both crossbody bags were made available. As of August 31, three of NARS’ five limited items are selling for a profit at the secondary market, a considerable improvement on the one of ten Burberry limiteds making a profit at resale on August 8.
What lessons can be learned by brands looking to engage and monetize the Roblox community via limited item drops?
One key take-away is that in this case, the number of copies sold at primary sale directly influences its secondary market value. Like with any commodity, its rarity increases its value.
This however, was not the case with Burberry, where no correlation could be found between the scarcity of an item and the price tag attached to it.
So how do we account for this? One argument is that the popularity of any item of clothing, virtual or not, depends totally on whether people are attracted to it, i.e. is aestheticity more important than exclusivity? Community sentiment around the Burberry Lola Bag drop was not overwhelmingly positive, with some users complaining of its incompatibility with their avatars.
In the case of NARS Cosmetics, while community sentiment around its first drop (NARS Lip Crossbody Bag 1.0 and 3.0) was positive, the number of units sold was also significantly lower, making each bag more sought after.
The NARS Color Quest experience also plays a potential role. With a more entrenched presence in Roblox than Burberry, NARS Cosmetics are likely to play a more significant role in the community’s collective consciousness. The staggered nature of their drops possibly also went some way in sustaining momentum around its Roblox activations.
Whatever the case, limited item drops in Roblox are here to stay. Whether aligned with an immersive experience, as was the case with NARS, or executed in isolation like Burberry, brands are continuing to see virtual experiences like Roblox as a valuable new marketing vertical.
As long as limited item drops are paired with long-term metaverse strategies and an aim to enrich the community experience at large, rather than to just sell to it, results are sure to follow. Just look at Gucci in 2021 if you don’t believe us…
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