According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Roblox boasts more than 60 million daily users, with half under the age of 13. For each of the last five quarters, more than 40 million users have downloaded Roblox from the App Store and Google Play. And over the last three years, revenues have increased sixfold, to $1.9 billion in 2021.
Roblox earns most of this revenue by selling Robux, the virtual coin of the realm. As users play games and socialize, they earn and spend Robux, and sometimes even buy “blind packs” of goods, like baseball fans who buy packs of trading cards without knowing what’s inside. These Robux are so popular and desirable, kids increasingly ask to be paid their allowances in Robux. Conveniently, Roblox offers a monthly Robux subscription that allows parents to do exactly that.
As users explore the platform, virtual wallets in hand, brands stand by, ready to sell. Users can buy a virtual Louis Vuitton handbag or Gucci jacket for less than $5 each in U.S. currency. One 12-year-old says that if she wants to spend money in real life, she must ask her parents to take her to a store. But on Roblox, she’s free to buy whatever she wants, whenever she wants.
Other leading brands are establishing a presence on Roblox. In April, Chipotle launched a “Burrito Builder” game, where users can prepare entrees in a virtual store to earn “Burrito Bucks,” which can be exchanged for food at a brick-and-mortar store.
And then there’s Walmart Land, where users can earn virtual coins for virtual merchandise such as headphones and clothing for their avatars. Similarly, in Nikeland, users can earn virtual currency by playing basketball and other games, and then spend it on virtual shoes and other athletic merchandise.
How can brands succeed in the brave new world of Roblox?
*Host virtual activities for “IRL” prizes. For kid- and teen-centric brands, establish a presence on Roblox where they can hang out, interact with the brand, and do something fun to earn real merchandise. The genius of the Chipotle “Burrito Builder” game is that it gets users making virtual burritos that can be converted into the real thing. As they build their burritos, users contemplate what they’d want in a real Chipotle burrito, begin craving one more and more -- and earn the currency to buy one.
*Sell aspirational goods in virtual form. It’s impractical for users to play games to earn a real Louis Vuitton handbag or Gucci jacket, but for less than $5, a virtual replica is a great deal. Their avatar will be a walking, talking billboard for your brand within the Roblox universe, and it will establish a connection with the brand that can eventually lead to a real-life purchase.
*Offer Robux as an incentive. Since kids and teens value Robux more than actual currency, offer ways of earning it with the purchase of your brand, or hold sweepstakes where lucky winners can earn a small Robux fortune. Robux is a parent-mediated currency, so it’s a good way of forging a connection with younger consumers, while staying on solid ground legally and ethically.
Despite the naysayers, the metaverse is here to stay, and brands that find their place in it will succeed in both the virtual and physical worlds.