👾 Walmart’s meta-world

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Clean up in the meta-aisle (Courtesy of Walmart)

Clean up in the meta-aisle (Courtesy of Walmart)

Clean up in the meta-aisle (Courtesy of Walmart)

Clean up in the meta-aisle (Courtesy of Walmart)

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
29,261 (-1.11%)
S&P 500
3,655 (-1.03%)
10,803 (-0.60%)
$19,098 (+1.56%)

Hey Snackers,

It’s “Armageddon” meets “Don’t Look Up” in real life: Yesterday NASA live-streamed its DART spacecraft intentionally smashing into a huge asteroid in a historic planetary-defense test. One day the tech could be used to save Earth from a cataclysmic collision.

Stocks kicked off the week in the red: the S&P 500 had its lowest close of the year and the Dow fell into a bear market as the British pound hit a record low against the US dollar. Meanwhile, oil prices continued to drop on recession fears.


Brick-and-mortar… goes pixel-and-avatar: America’s largest retailer wants a slice of the metaverse pie. Yesterday Walmart launched two digital lands: “Walmart Land” is focused on "verch" (virtual avatar merch) and “Walmart's Universe of Play” features games and toy worlds. Walmart chose tween-favorite gaming platform Roblox as its big-blox home.

Fashionably late… Walmart joins a growing # of brands moving into meta-territory. Last year Nike launched “Nikeland” on Roblox and Vans maker VF Corp. kicked off “Vans World,” also on Roblox. This year Miller Brewing opened a virtual bar in blockchain-based Decentraland, while Wendy's graced Meta’s Horizon Worlds with a VR resto dubbed the "Wendyverse."

  • On Roblox: 21M+ people have visited Nikeland since its launch, and 81M+ have strolled through Vans World, with some paying Robux (in-game currency) to customize their digital shoes.
  • Meta's Horizon Worlds has struggled to attract crowds. Its reported monthly user base of 300K (as of February) includes users of a separate Meta app called Venues.
  • Barrier to meta-entry: Horizon Worlds requires a $400 VR headset, but Roblox and Decentraland are desktop-first experiences (think: "The Sims").

Brands want to be where the people are… even if it's just their avatars. As companies like Walmart and Nike plant their flags in the metaverse, they're looking to platforms that are already populated. Why build your shopping mall — digital or otherwise — in a ghost town when there’s a bustling metropolis next door? Roblox has 60M daily active users, up nearly 25% from last year. That could be a problem for higher-barrier Meta's Horizon Worlds.


Dangling the carrot (cash)… Hopper passed Booking.com as the most downloaded US travel app last year, snagging attention with data-driven features like hotel-price freezes and flight-rebooking guarantees. Now it’s trying to keep consumers’ attention — even when they’re not planning trips. Hopper’s testing a program that rewards users for playing games.

  • Carrot-nomics: Hopper gives users “Carrot Cash” for referring friends, playing games, or opening the app seven days a row (think: Snap streak). Users can redeem Carrot Cash for discounts.
  • Games > billboards: Hopper has doled out $50M in rewards, vouchers, and deals in the past year — more than it spent on marketing during that time.

Hopping into the game… Hopper isn’t the first to use games as an engagement booster: Chinese app Pinduoduo used gaming and social features to become an ecomm giant across Asia. Now travel apps like India-based Oyo and US-based IHG are using mobile games to keep customers engaged as they rack up points for discounted stays. Starbucks added java-themed games to its recently revamped rewards app.


Games could be the new ads… While digital billboards are easy to gloss over, reward-based games can be attention-grabbing. Hopper says users who engage with games open the app 5X to 10X more than users who don’t. Games bring customers directly into an app — ads have the same goal, but not always the same result. These new engagement strategies could bring more pain to the flagging digital-marketing sector.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • iMove: In a strategy pivot, Apple is moving production of its flagship iPhone 14 to India as it looks to shift some manufacturing away from China, where zero-Covid lockdowns have disrupted supply chains.
  • Win: Casino stocks like Wynn surged after China said it would allow tour groups back in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, as soon as November. Prepandemic, Macau generated 5X the annual revenue of Vegas.
  • Cart: Because Prime Day wasn’t enough: Amazon’s hosting a second member shopping event this year, hoping to lure inflation-stressed shoppers with early discounts as demand softens.
  • Clear: Pfizer asked the FDA to greenlight its updated Covid booster for kids ages 5-11. That age group became eligible for vax shots nearly a year ago, but fewer than half have received one dose.
  • Grilled: Three people were charged with securities fraud in connection with a scheme involving a $100M publicly traded company built around a New Jersey deli called Your Hometown Deli.

Snack Fact of the Day

Russia’s war on Ukraine is expected to cost the global economy $2.8T in lost output by the end of next year


  • Rosh Hashanah ends
  • Earnings expected from BlackBerry and Cracker Barrel

Authors of this Snacks own: shares of Amazon, Apple, Snap, Starbucks, and Walmart

ID: 2444805