*This insight was published prior to Walmart becoming a GEEIQ Enterprise subscriber.*
Walmart Inc., the American multinational retail brand, took its first foray into the metaverse last month with two branded experiences in Roblox in the form of Walmart's Universe of Play and Walmart Land, following the lead of brands like Spotify, Nike and Chipotle.
Revealing the concept behind Walmart Land, Chief Marketing Officer William White said ‘Roblox will serve as a testing ground for Walmart as it considers moves in the metaverse and beyond’, with the brand exploring new ways to reach consumers in a world of shifting shopping habits.
So how did Walmart Land fare in a world of over 200 metaverse branded experiences? From the go, community sentiment was far from positive, with the arrival of Walmart Land painting a less than favourable picture in the form of White announcing the experience's launch to a crowd of one.
Roblox users called out the nature of this partnership, as well as the various bugs they uncovered throughout the experience; from broken audio and an unplayable 'Blimp Game', to avatar glitches and coin collection not registering.
The sidebar is a feature of Roblox that can either make or break a branded experience. While increased exposure and consistent promotion can boost visits, it can also incur a bump in 'dislikes' as a result of users who aren't the experience's target audience opting to take a look at what's on offer.
So, what does the data tell us? In the first five days of Walmart Land, visitors and favourites steadily increased. But the approval rating was less consistent. The data suggests that the higher the visits to Walmart Land, the higher the dissatisfaction, as is often the case with branded Roblox experiences. More exposure means more critique.
On day two and day three, the approval rating fell below 50% but rebounded on day four and five. As of October 13th 2022, the approval rating has increased to 59.07%. But why? Walmart Land is currently advertising a free collectible surprise for its players when the experience reaches 20,000 likes - it's currently at 11,000. It has also sought to enhance the experience through virtual concerts.
Optimising the experience
Kicking off on Friday October 7th, Walmart expanded the Walmart Land experience by hosting Electric Fest, a virtual music festival featuring Madison Beer, Kane Brown and YUNGBLUD; a clear attempt to engage the Gen Z audience Walmart is seeking to reach through its Roblox outing.
The data shows that Electric Fest encouraged an increase in visitors to Walmart Land throughout the period. Interestingly, the experience's approval rating saw a slight reduction across these days. Community sentiment was generally positive for these events because, as one Twitter user commented, 'music is an accessible, high engagement entry point'.
So what lessons can be learned from Walmart Land? Firstly, that the Roblox community is highly attuned to inauthenticity and somewhat hostile towards highly publicised branded experiences with bugs that restrict player usability.
Granted, these can be considered teething problems, and the increasingly positive sentiment around Electric Fest is proof that for a brand activation in Roblox to be successful, providing value and enriching the community experience is key.
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