The sportswear giant was among the first to create a virtual world to sell its own virtual goods. For The Drum’s Evolution of E-commerce Deep Dive, we take a look at the lessons that can be learned from its success.
Nikeland was one of the first evidence of mainstream reverse trade concepts. The virtual world, created with Roblox, saw 7 million visitors over the first two months. It drew on the expertise of Nike’s newly acquired metaverse agency, RTKFT, in order to make it easier to experience Nike-branded games, and most importantly, it allowed users to purchase virtual items from Nike itself.
Nike’s digital results – in no small part due to those metaverse experiences – now account for 26% of its Nike brand’s total revenue. As part of that effort, Nikeland has so far received more than 21 million visitors, according to Roblox, and has been favored by nearly 118,000 gamers.
However, with the metaverse as a very emerging marketing tool, there have been questions about how long a metaverse implementation like Nikeland will remain viable. Players are constantly looking for new experiences, and the nature of Roblox means that these attractive places are easy to find.
Winnie Burke is the Head of Fashion and Beauty Partnerships at Roblox. She explained that the feasibility of the metaverse experience (as with real-world retail) depends on introducing new products: “Evergreen experiences on Roblox – like Gucci Town, Vans World and Nikeland – keep players coming back because they’ve created engaging social spaces through content updates. Ongoing where fans can discover new products in authentic and interactive ways.
“Tommy Hilfiger is the latest fashion name to leap into the metaverse with the ongoing Tommy Play experience – which is frequently updated, meaning that even casual guests can always find something new to explore or try. It’s one of the very exciting examples we’ve seen of the fashion industry that takes the stature of metaverses.”
The need to offer new products and experiences is a combination of the core principles of both retail and gaming. Retail – especially in fashion and luxury – works on the concept of seasonal renewals of clothing lines, while ongoing game worlds such as Final Fantasy XIV and Rocket League introduce new environments and game modes on a regular schedule.
Darren Tsui, CEO of Together Labs, argue That a successful metaverse implementation requires three main attributes: “It must have a presence (a social presence), it must be permanent (when users return, there is some kind of continuity and not a restart) and finally and most importantly, it must be shared (many will need people until they are able to interact in the metaverse).
In addition to introducing new clothing items, Nikeland has been simulating gamesRelease and update policy. During NBA All-Star Week, for example, Nike commissioned LeBron James to visit Nikeland, where participants were rewarded for physical play with the ability to unlock virtual products.
Metaverse commerce, then, is the center of the Venn diagram between these two disciplines, while the best metaverse experiences will be those that meet audience expectations for both.
Gucci, for example, recently re-presented the visuals and experiences of the Gucci City Experience in service of its recent Gucci Flora fragrance campaign, introducing new challenges and allowing fans to interact with an avatar of brand ambassador Miley Cyrus.
“These Branded Worlds are an extension of existing social channels, allowing fans to connect with brands, creators, and community members in an exciting, dynamic and ever-changing way that keeps people coming back for more and enjoying these experiences together with their friends,” Burke says.
The e-commerce aspect of experiences like Gucci Town and Nikeland has, understandably, been the focus of much of the metaverse coverage. Fans choosing to dress their avatars with paid products is a new concept – at least for those outside of gaming fans. However, as Burke explains, many brands are instead using their branded expertise on metaverse platforms to develop relationships with audiences they wouldn’t otherwise have.
She says, “For many brands, the main goal is to build affinity with Generation Z, which can in turn influence real-world buying decisions. With our research, we see early indications of how lifestyle experiences extend from brands on the platform to interactions future with the brand in the physical world.
“For example, we conducted a virtual focus group that spoke to people who had visited the Alo Sanctuary experience and about half of them said they He’ll probably buy it from Alo the next time they want a tracksuit.
The metaverse drew on the history of both retail and gaming in order to create a new, viable avenue for e-commerce. However, its future success requires that brands invest in their metaverse experiences over the long term, in order to keep users coming back as regularly as they would to a real-world store.
For more information on the evolution of e-commerce, check out the latest edition of The Drum’s Deep Dive.
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