- Extending its brand into the metaverse, West Elm has launched West Elm Home Design, a virtual environment within the international gaming platform Roblox, the retailer announced on Tuesday. The online space has a furniture store, coffee shop and merchandise boutique.
- Roblox users can customize their virtual homes with more than 150 digital versions of physical West Elm products. They can also collect and wear West Elm-branded accessories such as T-shirts, bags, hats and other items on their avatars, the retailer said.
- The virtual space also lets users play minigames, complete obstacle courses, take selfies and engage in other activities that will yield them tokens, prizes and giveaways. The retailer plans to update the virtual environment and its items to reflect its current product assortment, per the announcement.
West Elm is getting in on the metaverse action to let Roblox users express themselves with the brand’s furniture and decor. The retailer said Roblox users can beautify their virtual spaces with West Elm furniture, lighting, garden accessories and other decorations.
“We’re excited to expand our company into the metaverse and connect West Elm with the millions of daily Roblox users around the world,” Williams-Sonoma, Inc. President and CEO Laura Alber said in a statement. “The launch of West Elm Home Design makes our company the first specialty home retailer on the powerful Roblox platform, and we look forward to welcoming users to the West Elm Neighborhood.”
The furniture and home decor retailer joins other fashion brands and retailers in experimenting with Roblox. To attract younger consumers, Walmart has launched two Roblox environments, one dubbed Walmart’s “Universe of Play” and the other “House of Style.” Gap unveiled its virtual experience called “Club Roblox” in May, which features a fashion show minigame, a juice bar and a photo booth. And last year, Forever 21 launched Forever 21 Shop City, a virtual environment where Roblox users can enhance their stores and compete to become the “top shop.” In June, the fashion retailer added its Barbie Summer 2022 Collection to Forever 21 Shop City on Roblox.
Meanwhile, fashion brands are also diving deeper into the Roblox ecosystem. Gucci launched its Gucci Garden on Roblox in May 2021. A year later, the brand unveiled its virtual piazza Gucci Town, complete with digital Gucci items, its Creative Corner for making art and its Vault Plaza exhibition space.
As it attracts brands and retailers, Roblox is also courting advertisers. Last month, the platform introduced its Roblox Developers Conference, a new in-game advertising format. The company is also enhancing its Marketplace, which lets users sell digital items for Robux, its in-game currency.
Though brands and retailers are entering the metaverse to appeal to younger consumers, it isn’t clear whether the concept will catch on with Gen Z. A Piper Sandler survey released earlier this year found that less than half (48%) of teenagers are not interested in or are unsure of the metaverse. On the other hand, another survey from Vice Media Group and Publicis Groupe’s Razorfish agency found that more than half (52%) of Gen Z gamers said they want to earn money in the metaverse, and a third of Gen Z respondents want brands to create virtual storefronts.
And while some younger consumers aren’t into the metaverse, some experts warn that the concept has a ways to go before it reaches maturity. A July Forrester report predicts that consumers still won’t be able to travel freely from one digital environment to another with their belongings in a decade.