When it comes to world building in the metaverse, the creative opportunities are essentially limitless. That’s why, as brands and retailers start to mold their environments on platforms like Roblox, experts encourage them to focus on immersive storytelling, gamification and digital-physical integration to drive engagement.
PUMA is leaning into all three with a new sports-based experience on Roblox called “PUMA and the Land of Games.” Developed in partnership with Wonder Works studio, the experience allows gamers to become athletes, connecting and competing in activities such as weight-lifting, track running and three mini games: Endless Runner, Football Rush and Dodgeball Showdown.
Consumers, especially younger ones, look at the metaverse as not just a viable but meaningful way to interact with their peers: 46% of consumers agree that “the metaverse can provide a forum to interact with friends in a way that is as meaningful as in person,” according to a recent survey from KPMG. Up to 44% of consumers also agree that “engaging with friends in the metaverse is an authentic way of interacting.”
It’s no surprise then that companies like PUMA are using these platforms to build new worlds and experiences to test, learn and improve as the still-abstract Web3 landscape continues to take shape. Adam Petrick, PUMA’s Chief Brand Officer, revealed in an interview with Retail TouchPoints that “PUMA and the Land of Games” is the first of many initiatives for the brand, the ultimate goal of which is to inspire both ambition and creativity, both core elements of the brand.
Here is what PUMA’s Roblox experience can teach others about creating memorable environments in the metaverse:
Root your strategy in community
Gamers venture into worlds like Roblox because these spaces allow for moments of authentic interaction and PUMA is using its Web3 strategy (and Roblox specifically) to support its own community-building initiatives. For Petrick, it’s a natural fit: “We recognize that Web3 is all about community and that’s exactly what we’re hoping to do — create, foster and engage with communities,” he explained.
Always tie things back to fun
As with any new channel or strategy, there is an underlying focus on ROI. What is the ultimate value of the investment? How does this tie back to selling goods, which is the core of all retail businesses? Well, Petrick believes that for the ever-evolving world of Web3 it’s important for PUMA to be a team player first. That’s why the brand is measuring the success of “PUMA and the Land of Games” based on visits and engagement.
“We want to be active participants in the Web3 communities we are a part of,” he explained. “We want to learn from Roblox and leverage the interests of their community. We want to listen and learn — and then deliver. We hope we can add value by creating cool and innovative products delivering on many of the underlying principles of Web3: decentralization, creativity and community.
Get your entire organization on board
When brands lead with marketing-driven goals such as engagement, community-building and fun, red flags may shoot up within the leadership team. But the entire organization and leadership team within PUMA realizes that brand building and community interaction is the core to successfully reaching consumers in the Web3 space, and that ongoing testing and learning will need to be done to establish a sound strategy moving forward.
“Our approach for the past several months has been to test and learn,” Petrick explained. “We are not taking ourselves too seriously and are okay with making mistakes. We recognize that there really is no Web3 playbook. We’ve decided to partner with a handful of authentic and creative communities to deliver unique and exciting programs. Our approach is to work collaboratively with each partner to add value in ways that feel genuine.”
Collaborate to build an immersive world
Because Web3 encompasses so many things, different teams and functions need to work together to make an impact. For “PUMA and the Land of Games,” that meant getting marketing, social, innovation and even product teams together to shape the vision and story. PUMA even collaborated closely with the Roblox team and developers at Wonder Works to shape all the components and ensure that the game best represented the brand. These partners “helped guide us to make strategic decisions that were relevant to the Roblox consumer,” said Petrick.
Embrace the ‘phygital’ opportunity
Love it or hate it, “phygital” is a word being used to describe how the metaverse uses digital community, customization and gaming to inspire real-life product discovery and commerce. For example, the “PUMA and the Land of Games” experience features Roblox’s newest Layered Clothing technology, which allows players to customize their characters with hyper-realistic PUMA clothing that fits any avatar body type.
As players explore the experience, they will unlock new zones and additional PUMA sportswear pieces. “The products we developed [for the game] are twins of existing items,” Petrick explained. “Our goals were to allow consumers to style their avatars and give them the opportunity to be creative with our existing product lines. While there are no direct ties to commerce within the game, this creates a natural source of context and inspiration for players.
Take an incremental approach to innovation
While many brands and retailers are eager to go all in on the metaverse, Petrick acknowledges that there is still plenty to learn and discover. He and the broader marketing organization are taking a slow and steady approach, with hopes of eventually building Web3 practices into all marketing campaigns “as appropriate.” He noted that the team recognizes that while “the fundamentals of how we approach consumers doesn’t really change, the techniques and tactics do. We have always believed that our consumers shape our brand. Therefore, we rely on being an active participant in the space — learning, interacting and understanding from their behaviors, to help shape what we do moving forward.”
PUMA is currently working on multiple Web3 initiatives across NFTs, gaming and metaverse experiences. With an eye on innovation, Petrick notes that he and his team are “dedicated to being humble and transparent, and learning from the communities we take part in. Recognizing that this space is always changing and there really are no experts — we’re along for the ride and eager to learn from the community. We want to get involved in the culture around Web3 and determine what value we can add — whether it is through our products, athletes, ambassadors or our brand.”