Tech

Walmart dips a toe into metaverse opportunities, while Ralph Lauren dives right in

The blockchain shopportunities are too seductive for fashion houses and big-box players alike to resist.
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Welcome to the metaverse: Make yourselves comfortable, we might be here for a while. Last week, we reported on Gap and Selfridges entering the world of digital assets. Now, we have two more newcomers—Ralph Lauren and Walmart. Yes, the blockchain shopportunities are too seductive for fashion houses and big-box players alike to resist.

Building blocks: Walmart is laying the foundation for its metaverse entry. Seven filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office show the company’s plans to create its own cryptocurrency and a collection of NFTs. The new trademark applications from December indicate forthcoming virtual goods in the electronics, home decor, toys, sporting goods, and personal care categories.

  • This all points to a future that allows consumers to use and manage virtual currency.

Ralph Lauren, on the other hand, is diving headfirst into the metaverse. President and CEO Patrice Louvet didn’t leave room for idle speculation during his NRF panel, where he announced the company’s commitment to virtual reality and claimed the brand had already sold 100,000 pieces of digital clothing to outfit avatars.

Casting a wide net: Louvet was also very clear about Ralph Lauren’s motives—to attract Gen Z. “First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to engage with mostly younger customers,” he said.

  • Consumers can buy Ralph Lauren’s digital apparel for a few dollars and virtually visit the company’s Madison Avenue flagship. The retailer is even thinking about buying real estate in the metaverse.

Louvet added that Ralph Lauren himself, now 82 and skyping weekly with Louvet, has always said that the brand is “not a fashion company,” but rather in “the dreams business.”

The challenge: Younger generations see little distinction between “online and offline, physical and digital,” Ryan Mullins, analyst and CEO of the mobile shopping game Aglet, said in a recent interview—so retailers need to “start thinking of [their] brand as a persistent, ongoing, real-time world.” In other words, the metaverse never rests. And if your brand exists in that digital sphere, he suggests, it should follow its rules.—JG

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