Head-to-toe looks and immersive role-playing games on Roblox are becoming more attractive opportunities for brands, especially as the gaming platform gains popularity, making it harder to stand out.
Forty-five-year-old lifestyle brand Natori came out with its first digital fashion collection on Roblox last week. It includes high-end fashion items, hairstyles and accessories in the brand’s signature prints. They’re being sold for $1-$1.50 through Roblox creator studio House of Blueberry’s digital boutique, launched in August. The digital boutique is a new House of Blueberry feature allowing brands to launch “pop-up” Roblox collections in the store. As such, it offers brands a chance to dip a toe into the platform to trial the impact of an avatar fashion creation.
For Natori, the Roblox launch is an effort to bridge generational gaps and attract Gen Z to the brand. Its pop-up is set in an environment that includes elements from brand founder Josie Natori’s office, like her black desk and coffee table books.
“We’ve always tried to push the ball forward, whether it was launching e-commerce in the early 2000s or using artificial intelligence to power our paid media strategies. But our roots are more traditional,” said Ken Natori, president of Natori. “We’ve been eying the metaverse for years now and [hadn’t jumped in] because we couldn’t really find a way to enter that felt right for us and safe, with partners we trusted.”
House of Blueberry has previously collaborated with fashion brands including Jonathan Simkhai and has sold 20 million virtual assets to date. Natori took advantage of its layered clothing feature, launched in April. Previously, brands’ digital designs couldn’t be layered.
As all of House of Blueberry’s past designs are trackable, it’s able to provide data to brands on what styles typically prove popular. “Buying hair is a very popular thing in Roblox,” said Ken Natori. “We’re not in the hair business, but the studio was able to design different hairstyles that go with the accessories and clothing pieces in our collection.” Traditional hair-care brands like Sunsilk and Givenchy Beauty have launched their own brand worlds and digital hair on the platform.
House of Blueberry founder Mishi McDuff said the studio’s collaboration with Natori was a great opportunity to showcase the depth of the studio’s capabilities. “We put our decade of experience in virtual fashion and metaverse spaces into effect with this brand activation.”
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret-owned Gen-Z brand Happy Nation launched its first branded Roblox experience in June via the “BayView” game. Its second, more developed launch — created in partnership with creative studio and advertising agency SuperAwesome — launched in October. Found within “Livetopia,” one of Roblox’s fastest growing games, at 4.3 million users, the brand’s room hosts an obstacle course allowing players to create a customized digital fashion tee. They can also browse a Happy Nation pop-up. Role-playing games are the lifeblood of Roblox and are a smart play for brands targeting the Roblox demographic of users ages 16 and under.
Both of Happy Nation’s launches have aimed to support organizations aligned with the brand, while also getting in from of Roblox users. “Within the first six weeks of going live, our first Roblox integration within ‘BayView’ sparked 10,500 donations to Undies for Everyone, which [donates underwear to children living in poverty or crisis],” said Kristen Lagoa, vp of merchandising for growth brands at Victoria’s Secret & Co. Happy Nation had garnered 2.8 million portal visits to the experience by the time it closed. For its second activation, the brand exceeded its donation amount within four hours of the game going live, with over 2 million visitors to the experience.
The ability to customize avatars — the digital personas themselves, versus the clothes — is important to the Roblox audience, with 94% reporting they had customized their avatar’s features, like its hair. More importantly for brands, 82% of Roblox users say they’re likely to try looks and items they see on other avatars.
Influencers can also contribute to avatar creation. TikTok personality and gamer Leah Ashe, for example, sells pink wigs on Roblox. Roblox is keen on building out its creator community, as studios like House of Blueberry and SuperAwesome continue to onboard brands.
For brands, adapting to and creating new experiences, including through gaming and digital fashion, will be key to answering the growing demand for brand experiences.