As restaurants and grocers compete for consumers’ food spending, restaurants have been quicker to go where younger consumers have been going — the metaverse. Yet, Walmart, the world’s largest grocery retailer, is now getting onboard.
“Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there,” Walmart U.S. Chief Marketing Officer William White said in the post. “So, we’re focusing on creating new and innovative experiences that excite them, something we’re already doing in the communities where they live, and now, the virtual worlds where they play.”
While these two metaverse experiences don’t focus on selling food, Walmart’s previous forays into grocery contextual commerce can give an indication of where this initiative may be headed. The retailer has peddled in not only shoppable recipes but also interactive video content, in-aisle augmented reality (AR) experiences and more.
Yet, while Walmart dipping its toe in the metaverse waters is something of an exception among grocery retailers, many restaurant brands have been making moves into the space. Most recently, for instance, Tim Hortons announced Thursday (September 29) for National Coffee Day (Oct. 1) the launch of a new branded Roblox game, Tims Speed Run, which will be live for a month.
Similarly, fast-casual brand Chipotle has had its in-Roblox Chipotle Burrito Builder, launched back in April, and earlier this month the restaurant launched a new menu item via this in-game experience.
Quick-service restaurant (QSR) giant Wendy’s, meanwhile, which has around 7,000 restaurants across the world, has been debuting digital location after digital location in Meta’s Horizon Worlds virtual reality (VR) platform.
“While other brands may enter spaces and unnecessarily distract, disrupt or detract from the experience, we listen, learn and prepare to make sure we always show up to enhance and add value to every interaction with our fans,” Jimmy Bennett, vice president of media and social at The Wendy’s Company, told PYMNTS in an August interview. “As we’ve seen this community rapidly expand on platforms like Twitch, Discord, TikTok and across multiple gaming verticals, we’re right there with them.”
Consumers who have engaged with the metaverse or who are interested in doing so want to have the opportunity to buy food in these digital spaces, according to data from the July edition of PYMNTS’ Digital Divide study, “Digital Divide: The Move to the Metaverse. The study, which drew from a May survey of roughly 2,700 United States consumers, found that 54% consumers who have already used the metaverse or have a high interest in doing so were “very or extremely interested” in integrating restaurant purchases into their metaverse experiences, and another 19% were somewhat interested.