21m people have now visited Nike's Roblox store. Here's how to do metaverse commerce right
The sportswear giant was among first to create own virtual world in which to sell its own virtual goods. Here's some lessons to learn from its success.
Nikeland was one of the first proof of concepts for mainstream metaverse commerce. The virtual world, created on Roblox, saw 7 million visitors over the course of its first two months. It built upon the expertise of Nike's newly acquired metaverse agency, RTFKT, in order to facilitate a gaming experience that was Nike-branded and, crucially, allowed users to buy virtual goods from Nike itself.
Nike's digital results - in no small part due to those metaverse experiences - now represent 26% of its total Nike brand revenue. And as part of that effort, Nikeland has to date received over 21 million visitors, according to Roblox, and has been a favourite by almost 118,000 gamers.
However, given that the metaverse as a marketing tool is extremely nascent, there were questions about how long a metaverse execution like Nikeland would remain viable. Gamers seek out new experiences constantly and the nature of Roblox means those attractions are easy to find. Winnie Burke, head of fashion and beauty partnerships at Roblox, explains the viability of a metaverse experience (as with real-world retail) relies on the introduction of new products: "Evergreen experiences on Roblox - such as Gucci Town, Vans World and Nikeland - keep players coming back because they have created engaging social spaces with ongoing content updates where fans can discover new products in authentic and interactive ways.
"Tommy Hilfiger is the latest fashion name to jump into the metaverse with its Tommy Play persistent experience - which is frequently updated, meaning even regular 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 taking on the metaverse."
That need to introduce new products and experiences is a melding of the core tenets of both retail and gaming. Retail - particularly in fashion and luxury - runs on the concept of seasonal refreshes of the clothing lines, while persistent gaming universes such as Final Fantasy XIV and Rocket League introduce new environments and game modes on a regular schedule.
Daren Tsui, chief exec of Together Labs, has argued that a successful metaverse execution requires three key attributes: "It needs to have presence (social presence), it needs to be persistent (when users come back there's some sort of continuity and not a reboot) and lastly and most importantly it needs to be shared (multiple people will need to be able to interact in the metaverse)."
In addition to introducing new clothing items, Nikeland has been emulating gaming's release-and-refresh approach. During NBA All-Star Week, for example, Nike commissioned LeBron James to visit Nikeland, during which time participants were rewarded for physical gameplay with the ability to unlock virtual products.
Metaverse commerce, then, is the centre of the Venn diagram between those two disciplines, while the best metaverse experiences will be those that cater for audiences' expectations for both. 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 to enjoy these experiences together with their friends.