Walmart Takes Amazon Battle Into New Virtual Spaces

Walmart Realm

As Walmart and Amazon compete to win younger shoppers’ retail spending, the former is looking to capture Gen Z’s imaginations with new digital experiences to secure their engagement and loyalty.

Walmart Chief Marketing Officer William White announced Wednesday (May 22) in a LinkedIn Post the launch of Walmart Realm, a gamified marketplace of more immersive virtual shops created in partnership with influencers, targeted at social media trends.

“ pushes boundaries as a first-of-its-kind digital shopping experience with influencer-led virtual shops in immersive worlds,” White wrote in his post. “It’s fantastical, it’s inspirational and simply put: it’s a lot of fun. At Walmart, we’re embracing innovation with e-commerce experiences designed with the virtual world at the heart.”

The three shops currently available all sell fashion and beauty goods in fantastical 2-dimensional virtual environments, all created in collaboration with influencers with millions of followers.

The move comes as young consumers disproportionately turn to social media celebrities to inspire their shopping journeys, according to research from “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Monetizing Social Media,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Amazon Web Services collaboration.

Supplemental findings from the study’s survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers, showed that 68% of Gen Z consumers searched for products on social media, and 22% ultimately completed a purchase, the highest shopping rate on social media across all generations. Additionally, 3 out of 4 Gen Z consumers said they plan to make purchases on social media, compared to less than half of the overall sample.

Plus, additional research finds that nearly 40% of Gen Z consumers use TikTok and Instagram for discovery instead of Google.

Amazon’s Social Commerce Push

Amazon, too, is looking to capture TikTok users’ attention to drive engagement, currently building an audience for Prime Video on the social media. In a company blog post updated Tuesday (May 21), Amazon profiled Kane Diep, the creator who spearheaded the company’s Prime Video TikTok account, which has 20 million followers.

“We work to highlight different cultures, relationship dynamics, and intersectional identities that aren’t typically represented by prominent entertainment brands or publications,” Diep said. “Prime Video wants to mirror all of our customers, so my focus is a direct social extension of what our brand aims to accomplish. The Gen Z and Millennial audiences typically found on TikTok are really eager to learn, and that shows in our engagement data — the more representation we have, the faster the account grows.”

For Amazon, more followers for this account means more engagement with Prime Video which in turn could mean more sales, as the eCommerce giant increasingly integrates shoppable functionality into the platform.

“We still see significant opportunity ahead in … areas where we’re just getting started, like Prime Video ads,” CEO Andy Jassy told analysts on the company’s latest earnings call. “Prime Video ads offers brands value as we can better link the impact of streaming TV advertising to business outcomes like product sales or subscription sign-ups, whether the brands sell on Amazon or not. It’s very early for streaming TV ads but we’re encouraged by the early response.”

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