Dive Brief:

  • Accessories retailer Claire’s has a new virtual destination, ShimmerVille, that uses the Roblox platform to amplify the brand’s purpose of empowering self-expression and personal style, according to a press release.
  • ShimmerVille is designed to engage “Gen Zalpha,” a cohort that came of age during the pandemic. Community members will be able to engage in a number of activities and outfit avatars with accessories that are available for purchase in brick-and-mortar Claire’s stores.
  • The concept and development came through a partnership with interactive media and gaming company Wonder Works Studio, which Claire’s has invested in to support its vision of integrating digital and physical retail.

Dive Insight:

Retail chain Claire’s is in the midst of a comeback after exiting bankruptcy. Looking to secure its appeal to tweens and young teens, Claire’s effort into the metaverse directly targets “Gen Zalpha,” a cohort of younger Gen Zers and older members of the following Gen Alpha. This microgeneration is largely characterized by coming of age during the pandemic when they were physically isolated from their social circles, but were able to connect through online platforms like Zoom, and perhaps more importantly for the metaverse, games like Roblox and Fortnite.  

ShimmerVille is positioned as more than a game, enabling visitors to earn digital currency through playing mini-games and completing retail jobs. Players can then use these earnings to purchase accessories for their avatars, homes and vehicles. Among the destinations within ShimmerVille are a park that will host live events, a pet adoption center and play park, a mall with stores selling accessories and merchandise, a spot for building a custom house and a galleria where events and experiences will be held. 

Claire’s venture into the metaverse is an investment in the brand’s “phygital” future, where experiences in the physical and digital worlds can be somewhat interchangeable, according to Kristin Patrick, Claire’s chief marketing officer. While initially ShimmerVille will focus on virtual jewelry and accessories, as the virtual destination grows, the brand expects to partner with other brands through limited-edition merchandise, one-of-a-kind pets, themed housing, games and other activities. 

The investment in Wonder Works Studio, which worked on ShimmerVille, points to the company’s commitment to innovating around the integration of the physical and digital worlds, according to Claire’s CEO Ryan Vero.

Venturing into the metaverse — and in particular, on Roblox — is a way several younger-focused brands are trying to reach their target audiences. Last month, My Little Pony launched Visit Maretime Bay, where fans could interact with characters from its “My Little Pony: Make Your Mark” Netflix series and even turn their avatars into ponies. Invisalign, whose main population of users will be adolescents experiencing orthodontia, also launched a destination on Roblox


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