Whether the metaverse becomes the next frontier of brand-consumer interaction or not, one thing is for sure: Those who embrace it early stand to gain a competitive edge in engaging the next generation.
Gen Z, who have grown up in a digital world, are seeking immersive, social, and valuable digital media experiences, and research reveals that gaming has already become their top entertainment activity, surpassing traditional TV and streaming services.
As this generational shift unfolds, brands are recognizing the immense potential of platforms like global online gaming platform Roblox to connect with Gen Z in immersive environments and build meaningful communities at scale.
Roblox, with a market cap of roughly $23 billion, has become a go-to destination for Gen Z. With millions of interactive experiences available, users can explore, create, communicate, and connect with friends across diverse community groups in the metaverse.
Although it is yet to achieve profitability since going public in March 2021, the platform’s popularity is undisputed with over 66 million users engaged daily, forging 3D memories and forming billions of friendships through chat messages.
For brands seeking to tap into this immersive landscape, Roblox’s VP of global partnerships Christina Wootton, shared her top five tips based on success stories from various industries at the recent Cannes Lions festival in France.
1. Engage community creators
“Brands that are most successful on Roblox work with our creator community to bring their ideas to life. This is because community creators are very close to what users want on the platform – they use the platform themselves daily, have been creating immersive content for years and know what will feel authentic.
“Many creators grew up in the digital world themselves too — and come from a generation that doesn’t differentiate between physical and digital. They are also used to their creativity not being bound by laws of physics. You’ll be surprised with the stuff the community can come up with.”
2. Enhance user experience and offer value
“Best experiences from brands on Roblox offer value — be it enhancing what people do in the physical world or what our community can do on the platform.
“A great example is meet & greets with popular artists offering an experience typically reserved for VIP events with extremely limited (and typically very expensive!) entry.”
3. Build community first, then monetize
“Brands leading with sales goals are making a mistake focusing on short-term achievements only. On the contrary, brands that focus on community building can benefit from a long-term investment where they first grow fandom and visibility on the platform, and ‘earn’ the right to monetize later.
“Alo Sanctuary is a great example of this approach. When Alo Yoga opened up its virtual island on Roblox that has recently surpassed 80 million total visits, they focused on community and educating Roblox users about well-being, offering meditations and yoga classes. To this day, items can only be earned in the experience for focusing on well-being and meditation, and users have completed millions of meditations leaving very positive feedback about the experience.”
4. Speak to their values
“H&M, VitaCoco, McCain focused on sustainability when coming to Roblox. Red Wing Shoes — building houses for people in need, virtually and IRL. Alo Yoga — on mental well-being and wellness. All of these topics are on the various lists of top causes Gen Z care about the most.
“Addressing these topics via immersive content and digital items doesn’t just speak to people’s values, but also has great potential to add value.
“Brands can create physical products once they see if those resonate virtually as a way for more sustainable product testing and design (exactly what Forever 21 did). And with 70 percent of Gen Z active on Roblox saying in our research that they already borrow ideas for their physical looks from their avatars, designers and brands can launch entire lines without adding more waste to the world while at the same time having an impact on what consumers’ IRL preferences.”
5. Collaborate to enable democratization
“We’ve seen some of the most successful brands on Roblox create a venue for their Roblox fans to collaborate together. Take Nascar’s collaboration with Dubit and Badimo community developers allowing users to customize their cars, or Elton John’s collab with multiple digital fashion designers from Roblox who recreated some of the artist’s most iconic concert fashion.
“Given how easy it is to create and publish content, it just makes perfect sense for brands to get fans and community involved in the storytelling and creation process from the get-go for the most authentic experience. This kind of collaboration also helps brands understand their Gen Z consumers and anticipate their real-world demands.”