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Walmart Realm for “ Immersive Experiences “ to attract a young audience

Walmart Realm
[Images: Walmart]

When most people picture a shopping trip at Walmart, the images that typically come to mind include endless rows of products, fluorescent lighting, and a blue and yellow color scheme. They probably don’t imagine an underwater mermaid cove or an interesting outpost in the Wild West.  But that’s what they’ll find on Walmart Realm, the company’s new immersive e-commerce site.

Walmart Realm is made up of virtual storefronts that are designed based on insights from Pinterest Predicts, a trend forecasting report that compiles data on the aesthetics that are most likely to go viral each year. There’s “So Jelly,” a fantastical coral reef drawing on the “ mermaidcore ” trend; “ Y’allternative ” a “ Wild West meets gothic glam ” town à la Beyoncé’s western Cowboy Carter look; and “ Go Chromatic ” a futuristic city made of silver blobs.

So Jelly

The site was created by Emperia, a platform behind virtual stores for fashion and retail companies like L’Occitane and Bloomingdale’s. According to Emperia’s CEO, Olga Dogadkina, one of the keys to a successful virtual platform is to show people something they haven’t seen before – a concept that Walmart Realm embraced. This includes providing surreal environments, especially when we’re engaging with younger audiences. Plus support an omni-channel strategy and leverage familiarity. In this case, since people know what Walmart is and looks like, it’s important to deliver a different and complimenting experience online – that is a continuation of the brand vision and adds value. 

Walmart Realm

Walmart Realm is taking a social media-driven play to attract Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers and is part of ongoing learnings and the availability of newer technologies to reach young generations online. This includes partnerships with the popular gaming site Roblox and tapping into influencer marketing. Interestingly, while Walmart Realm could appear as a metaverse retail shop, the company doesn’t call it that to recognize business success and User adoption is about delivering new capabilities and outcomes that matter –  not the underlying technology.

Walmart Realm lives on its own web page separate from Walmart’s main site. It plays like a classic point and click game, except there are products like Elf lip plumper floating in the gothic desert cathedral and a chunky white sofa in the jellyfish cove. Users can collect Walmart sparks and play basic games to earn rewards like online discount codes. To entice Zoomers to actually visit the page, Walmart brought in recognizable influencers, including Mai Pham, Nava Rose, and Makenzie and Malia Fowler, to promote the venture and curate its offerings. 

influencer marketing

While Walmart Realm is the corporation’s most recent initiative into creating immersive experiences with virtual environments with the lessons learned from shutting down Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play. In September 2023, Walmart engaged with Roblox to create Walmart Discovered, a new experience that compiles trending user generated content (UGC) on the platform.

According to Justin Breton, Walmart’s director of brand experiences and strategic partnerships, Walmart Discovered has accumulated more than 21 million visits and is the top-rated brand experience on the platform. In March, peak time spent in Walmart Discovered was nine minutes.

The success of Walmart Discovered showed Walmart that it could commercially benefit from immersive e-commerce experiences. But the company is careful not to describe Walmart Realm as part of the metaverse – to avoid appearing outdated and being associated with NFTs, Web3, etc. – and recognize ‘ Walmart is investing in meeting Customers where they are online ”.

With “ Immersive E-commerce” being a better description of Walmart Realm, an objective is to have young consumers find and use the site whereby Walmart Discovered has an impressive presence on Roblox with the viewers already inside the game. The second objective is to be designing for the future of e-commerce where wearables including XR headsets (like the Apple Vision Pro, Oculus, etc. today and more elegant eye wear or digital glasses going forward) are commonplace – so people feel like they’re actually inside virtual environments.

While the site has only been recently launched, there are plans to expand with several more worlds this year whereby Walmart Realm enables people to have enjoyable experiences such as feeling they’re actually swimming with the guppies in “ So Jelly ” or kicking back with the cowboys in “ Y’allternative ” plaza.

Immersive E-commerce

June 5, 2024    By Grace Snelling / CAIL Innovation commentary      905-940-9000