How Walmart is Engaging the Community on Emerging Platforms

February 7, 2024

Walmart is building and engaging community by meeting them where they are. Whether it is in the store, online, in the app, or on emerging platforms, they are creating new experiences in unexpected ways. Justin Breton, Director of Brand Experiences & Strategic Partnerships at Walmart, shared with Jacob Loewenstein, SVP, Business Development & Strategy at Spatial, how Walmart is leveraging emerging platforms to go beyond the traditional audience and engage with the community.

For Justin, his role is to help Walmart meet customers outside of the traditional four walls, meaning the physical the store, the website, the app, and looking at platforms like Spatial to engage with people in unexpected, heightened ways. During his time with the brand, he’s launched commerce-enabled interactive content platforms to facilitate product discovery, an in-store augmented reality activation in support of a national non-profit partnership, and a series of first-to-market shoppable livestreams on TikTok, YouTube, & Twitter to drive authentic brand & product storytelling. Justin also oversaw Walmart’s recent foray onto Roblox with Walmart Land.

Read an Excerpt About Reaching a New Generation

Jacob: To start, what is the Cultureverse, what is it about, like how did the concept come to be, what should people understand about the aims of this activation?

Justin: The cultureverse is an immersive, gamified experience that is web-based. That’s important because it’s accessible, to anybody that wants to dive into this experience and learn about the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, that wants to engage with these virtual commissioned art pieces. Customers are doing so in a way that maybe they never thought Walmart would show up. It’s outside of our traditional four walls, and hopefully it’s driving meaningful engagement and shifting the perception of Walmart.

Jacob: Where did the inspiration for this come from?

Justin: Cultureverse both overlaps but emanates from something called the Black and Unlimited Program. It’s all about supercharging the potential of black individuals nationwide. Within emerging tech, there’s a very low percentage of black individuals that are at leadership positions, that are given opportunities to express themselves, to build things. Through the lens of the Black and Unlimited Platform, we actually commissioned four artists to create virtual pieces of art that were inspired by “what does Black and Unlimited mean to you?” Each artist has a different view.

Jacob: The medium is the message. How did doing something in a virtual world, in a gamified fashion, enable your message to be more authentic?

Justin: we’re not really telling our story. We’re allowing these creators to tell their story. We’re allowing these artists to tell their story. Like it is not Walmart saying, “Hey, here’s our platform. Take it.” And hopefully it resonates. It’s actually people that are a part of the community that we’re trying to support that are telling the story. I think what’s so important as it relates to authenticity, whether it be around these virtual experiences or gaming experiences, is actually partnering with people in the community to bring to life the vision you have. The same can be said for Walmart on Roblox. We built a destination that is by the community for the community. It is not about Walmart. It is about the community. And I think that is helping drive authenticity on these platforms.

“These types of experiences are driving extended time with brands. So, for example, with the Cultureverse, people are spending anywhere from six to eight minutes in this branded experience. That’s a lot of time…in a brand destination that again is meant to shift perception. Hopefully it’s delivering that heightened unexpected experience. And hopefully leads to brand favorability or loyalty, where they make a purchase in the real world or digitally later that day, a week later, but it’s driving really positive intent with our brand, which I think is really great.”

Jacob: Tell us about Walmart on Roblox.

Justin: Walmart recently reintroduced on the Roblox platform with Walmart Discovered which is by the community for the community. We previously launched an experience on Roblox which did not have a great favorability rating among the community on the platform. Reintroducing the brand with a new experience gave us a 95 percent approval rating, which is one of the highest rated brand experiences on the platform.

Key Learnings from Walmart

  • Test and learn, recognize mistakes, course correct, and invite the community to be part of what you build.
  • Empower creative partners to do the heavy lifting of sharing their voice and expressing themselves.
  • Used our learnings to inform our strategy, which was very much focused on community.

“My biggest takeaway from the conversations I had following the panel is that people are eager to test into this new medium of virtual experiences. They see an opportunity to engage with their customers in unexpected ways & appreciate the emphasis on using a test & learn strategy as they go.” – Justin Breton, Brand Experiences & Strategic Partnerships, Walmart

Watch the entire session video here and visit D2 for similar articles and resources.

You May Also Like…