Tech

It might be time to rethink what you know about Roblox

The virtual platform’s head of fashion and beauty partnerships doesn’t use the term “gaming platform” for a reason.
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Roblox

· 3 min read

The metaverse was a key topic at NRF’s Big Show in New York last week, and we’re not just talking about the dozens of virtual reality companies whose booths graced the expo hall. On stage, executives from brands including Claire’s, Microsoft, and Coach discussed their forays into the metaverse.

Many brands interested in virtual worlds are turning to online platform Roblox to design their own games and experiences for consumers. In fact, in the last several years, Roblox has become positively packed with brand activations, from NIKELAND to Gucci Town. But as the platform gains increasing notoriety among brands of all shapes and sizes, it’s also looking to distinguish itself, not just as a world for gamers, but as a collaborative and creative space to build community.

Winnie Burke, head of fashion and beauty partnerships at Roblox, spoke to a full house at NRF and debunked some common beliefs about the platform.

  • Roblox might be coming into popularity with brands, but at over 18 years old (it was founded in 2004), it’s far from a newcomer to the space, Burke explained.
  • “We’ve historically been known as a kids platform, and that is no longer just true,” she added. “To date, over 50% of our audience is over the age of 13, and 17–24 is our fastest-growing demographic.”
  • And despite common assumptions, gaming is just “one facet” of Roblox, Burke said, explaining why she doesn’t use the phrase “gaming platform.”
  • “Another major aspect of Roblox…is creation,” she explained. “What the platform provides is the tools and technology, but the community are the ones who are innovating for all the different types of content.”

Brand realities: Burke spoke alongside Chris Takkenberg, Tommy Hilfiger’s VP of digital product, and Dina Fierro, former VP of global digital innovation at NARS, currently senior VP of Web3 and metaverse at Shiseido.

  • Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with Roblox to launch Tommy Play, an experience that reimagines several NYC boroughs and includes mini games where users can collect and trade coins for virtual Tommy Hilfiger goods.
  • Takkenberg said the best place for brands to start on Roblox is partnerships. “There’s this rich community of creators, and they know the platform, and they’ve been building the platform together,” he explained. “So what better way to start than to connect with them?” (Tommy Hilfiger asked creator partners to “reimagine” their 2022 Spring collection in a way that was relevant for their community, Takkenberg said.)
  • Fierro said NARS chose Roblox for Color Quest (a virtual world where users explore tropical islands to unlock NARS products) over other virtual platforms for the scale and demographics of its users. Roblox allowed the brand to build “an entirely bespoke, visually sophisticated and high-fidelity world,” she explained.
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According to Burke, over 100 brands currently have experiences on Roblox. But she envisions a future in which every brand has a presence on the platform because of the potential it holds for them to reimagine their relationships with their audiences.

“You have this massive opportunity to engage with people and socialize and it’s much different than the social platforms that we're accustomed to today,” she explained. “This is immersive socialization. It's a way for you to have a two-way conversation.”

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