Forever 21 goes to the metaverse

Twenty one years. A time when new opportunities are looming on the horizon and life is just beginning.

This may be the case with fast fashion retailer Forever 21, named after the idea that many people want to stay young forever.

Forever 21 is now one of many big brands such as Nike’s acquisition of digital startup RTFKT, Facebook, Adidas Originals which now has an NFT (non-fungible token) collection, and many more, which are changing their mode of operation, now exploring the creative avenues of virtual reality. can engage consumers and keep them coming back for more.

This migration to 3D virtual reality from Forever 21, founded in the mid-90s, continues to appeal to both retailers and consumers, especially digitally savvy Gen Z and social media consumers. . Perhaps that’s because the metaverse is a new way to grab the attention of consumers in a highly saturated and competitive global online marketplace.

As David Ripert, co-founder and CEO of Poplar Studio, told PYMNTS: “[Virtual reality] is something that retailers need to experience now and start preparing because it’s whoever starts first and builds those experiences that is really going to bring this new generation of consumers into the store.

Roblox, a possible tipping point for retail

Forever 21 now features a new metaverse game called Roblox, launched alongside Virtual Brand Group, a company that creates metaverse worlds. Roblox, as PYMNTS reported last February, saw a huge increase in revenue last year, reaching $ 900 million. The company went public last March and has worked to move from a site primarily used by children to one that adults flock to as well.

According to the Forever 21 / Roblox website, consumers who explore the virtual store will have access to exclusive amenities. Some clothes like a knit beanie, zip-up jacket and faux fur backpack from Kendall and Kylie Jenner are listed as being exclusively featured in an online world.

This model appears to model what other stores in the metaverse space are currently doing, such as how Adidas Originals also offers users special entry to various experiences and products that you can only participate in if you are part of the metaverse world.

Via Roblox, consumers can create and run their own Forever 21 stores and participate in monthly launches. They can design what they want stores to look like and communicate with other users.

Is the retail metaverse world too excited?

This is an important, possibly high-risk, high-reward decision for Forever 21, a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just before COVID-19 hit.

As the New York Times reported, “Bankruptcy is a blow to a company that prided itself on being the American Dream, as well as a reminder of how quickly the retail landscape is changing. “

Just before the start of the pandemic, Forever 21’s e-commerce sales accounted for 16% of sales, and the store saw revenue drop from $ 4.4 billion in 2016 to $ 3.3 billion in 2018. Forever 21 was later bought out of bankruptcy by David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

As consumers – especially younger consumers – seek to support ethical and sustainable brands, Forever 21 actively strives to align its business model with consumer demands. For example, the ready-to-wear brand lists on its website various ways the company is working to do its part with the environment, such as having a solar-powered headquarters in Los Angeles, setting up a energy efficient lighting in its stores, recycle shipping boxes in stores and in the distribution center, in partnership with PETA to prevent cruelty to animals linked to fur sales in stores, etc.

Getting back to the concept of the metaverse, the question remains: will consumers dig Forever 21’s metaverse? Is it an authentic way to capture and retain an audience? Forever 21 is working to expand its offerings online (and in person) just earlier this month by announcing a partnership with JCPenney.

The bottom line is that the Metaverse has to be a break from the standard offerings. It should offer an insider’s view of a store where people like to shop. And it must be something that those familiar with online gaming think it offers something new and unique that can’t be found in another metaverse next door.

If a company, for example, has exclusive items that are only available in the Metaverse, those items should really stand out and be something people aspire to as something that makes them feel connected to the brand as a whole, versus something they can find a similar. version of easily on Amazon. A psychological connection and a sense of personal identity linked to personal growth and expansion in the metaverse is essential.

Gen Z consumers (and others, of course) are oversaturated with everything digital and tend to operate on media overload. Therefore, the metaverse of Forever 21 and the others must represent this “Wow! »Creative and unique factor that goes well beyond ephemeral novelty.

The Metaverse is young, but it won’t stay that way forever. Time will tell what consumers think of current offerings and how today’s metaverse evolves.

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