On a given day, somewhere in the world:

Zoe says, “Ooh, I love that little clutch you were wearing yesterday. Where did you get it?” 

“Thanks, it’s a Gucci,” Gabrielle answers. “I got it during that flash sale a couple of months ago.” 

This casual exchange could occur between a couple of women catching up during a weekday lunch break, or it could be snippets of a conversation that 12-year-olds are having about their last gaming session on Roblox. The platform that enables a global community of developers to deliver immersive 3D experiences is a popular hangout for Gen Zers. Back in May, it featured a pop-up make-believe Gucci garden created solely for product placement purposes and where young gamers could view, win, and, in some cases, buy limited-edition collectible accessories for their avatars to wear online, with prices ranging from US$1.20 to US$9. How many kids would spend their allowance money on such items? Plenty of them, according to Christina Wootton, VP of brand partnerships at Roblox.

“[Gen Zers], they sometimes see virtual products as more valuable than physical products,” she explained in a recent interview following the Gucci marketing collaboration. 

“We are definitely seeing that on Roblox, where it is all about storytelling and self-expression.”

The Gucci Garden Experience was only open for two weeks yet it was reportedly long enough for more than 4.5 million items to be “won.” For marketers whose businesses have suffered as of late because they haven’t been able to bridge the consumer generation gap, a metaverse that brings together VR, AR, and the web to allow users to interact with one another and role-play might offer some promising solutions. Not all brands will necessarily sell a lot of virtual product in such environments, but they’ll certainly gain a greater understanding of what’s appealing to Gen Zers, data that can later be used to inform decisions relating to physical merchandise and real-life destinations. The producers of “In the Heights,” this year’s big-screen blockbuster musical, saw that potential and opened the doors to their virtual world on Roblox this past June 4 through 20.

Roblox is just one of a few marketing avenues that Gucci is considering. It also partnered with Zepeto, the app and social media platform, to allow users to turn their selfies into 3D animated avatars and then dress themselves in Gucci collection pieces through in-app purchases before exploring a virtual branded villa. Another partnership was with Wildlife, maker of the Tennis Clash mobile game, with players entering virtual Gucci Open Tournaments and shopping for real-life outfits that mirror those they saw on the screen.

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Roblox has seen eight million developers create 20 million experiences on its platform, generating 30.6 billion hours of player engagement since 2008. Users gain access to different worlds on the platform via App Store, Google Play, Amazon devices, Xbox One, Microsoft PC, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.

The Trendz Twist: If your shopping center doesn’t have a shoppable website, you can still use VR and AR environments to enhance its brand story. Collaborate with tenants to develop rich experiences such as AR fashion design activities using merchandise that on-site stores sell, F&B pairing games, and VR special events that VIP shoppers’ avatars can attend and then recap on social media.


Aug.
2021