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H&M is ensuring that the retail push onto Roblox continues into 2023 with a new immersive experience.
The news: On Wednesday, the H&M Looptopia Experience launched on Roblox. Fast fashion retailer H&M partnered with metaverse studio Dubit to create space where players can experiment with new digital fashion materials and patterns for their avatar. In doing so, they can also learn about fashion and circularity.
What’s in it?H&M said the experience has “social interaction, engaging environments, mini-games, styling sessions, alternate worlds, events and more.” In the digital space, players can do the following:
- Visit a city square and enter alternate worlds such as Rainbooow Fields, Neon Studiooo and Fabric Fooorest.
- Style their avatar with digital clothes, and complement them with accessories, dance moves, music tracks and special effects.
- Meet friends to trade clothes and take selfies.
- Recycle old clothes to earn “super-rare elements” and star in a runway show.
Key quote: "People who shop and wear H&M garments and accessories are increasingly spending time in virtual spaces and digital worlds. The H&M Loooptopia Experience on Roblox is now allowing us to explore new ways to engage with our current and new customers in the places they love to be, both online and offline," said Linda Li, head of customer activation & marketing for H&M Americas, in a statement.
Into the metaverse
H&M is by no means the first retailer to enter virtual platforms like Roblox and Decentraland. Walmart, Albertsons and Build-a-Bear all recently made forays onto the popular gaming platform in the final months of 2022. If the last two years were prologue, more are likely to roll out, as well. But H&M happens to be the first activation of the new year, so let’s take this opportunity to break down a few keys to its approach:
Digital to physical: You can’t buy H&M clothes in Roblox. But having a presence can still help H&M influence sales. Engaging in activities on Roblox helps to build tastes and habits. Trying on clothes and meeting up with friends are the same activities one would engage in at a physical mall, so there’s potential that those activities will extend into the physical world, as well. "At H&M we want to encourage the emerging generation of digital natives to express themselves through fashion both off and on screen,” said Max Heirbaut, global head of brand experience for the metaverse at H&M.
Linking values: Sustainability is a primary concern for the younger Generations of Z and Alpha that make up the largest share of the audience on Roblox, and H&M is centering it here. Offering education and building incentives into the experience helps to put circularity alongside fashion in the virtual world, even if that record of doing so is less clear for fast fashion in the physical world. In effect, it is gamifying this environmental awareness, and building it in from the start of its presence in the digital space.
New styles coming soon? One reason retailers such as PacSun are seeing promise in Roblox and the metaverse is that it can offer a space to crowdsource new products as it observes the virtual clothes that are created. H&M didn’t say outright that it will look to the Roblox world for this purpose. But the fact that players can design their own styles would lend itself well to this function in the future. Fast fashion is known for sourcing from social media, so why wouldn't retailers look on Roblox for the latest creative styles, as well? After all, untethering physical parameters has the habit of unlocking creativity.
Trending in Marketing
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”