Future+ Fridays | Issue10

Roblox's latest updates, Gucci's newest gamified experience, Meta's AI update into Ray-Bans

Hello and welcome back to Future+ Fridays. This week we launched our highly anticipated insights report in partnership with Luxurynsight from our inaugural Codes of Culture summit, read here if you haven’t downloaded it yet.

Also, the Louis Vuitton event in London at the recently newly opened Emory hotel for the VIA community was a highlight. I got to experience an incredible VR experience of Villa Asnieres which took me on an immersive journey of the craftsmanship and history of the world of Louis Vuitton. Beautifully executed.

In this week's issue, we're exploring latest updates from Roblox, Meta’s new AR glasses, Gucci’s gamified shopping approach, Stripe's reintroduction of cryptocurrency, and much more!

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📖 In this week’s issue

  1. Roblox transforms virtual worlds with Walmart E-commerce and Enhanced Video Ads

  2. Gucci's innovative approach to engaging young audiences on Zepeto

  3. Estée Lauder and Microsoft forge ahead with AI innovation lab

  4. Stripe resumes crypto payments after 6 Years, beginning with USDC stablecoin 

  5. Ray-Ban Meta's AI-Integrated smart glasses: a leap into the future of wearables

👩‍💻 Also on our radar, in case you missed it

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🔎 Deeper Insights

1-Roblox transforms virtual worlds with Walmart e-commerce and enhanced video ads

This week marked the launch of Walmart's e-commerce presence inside Roblox, where players can not only browse virtual representations of physical items but also purchase them to be delivered directly to their doorstep while its virtual counterpart becomes a permanent addition to their Roblox inventory. As users step into the virtual storefront, they are welcomed by digital versions of select items available in Walmart's real-life stores. The process is seamlessly integrated, allowing players to try on items with their avatars before transitioning to an embedded e-commerce browser experience, mimicking Walmart's actual website within Roblox, securely checking out using Walmart’s API. This initiative also introduces exclusive merchandise designed in collaboration with Roblox creators, enhancing the digital shopping experience. Available until the end of May, it is part of a pilot test to explore user interest in buying real products through the platform.

Courtesy of Walmart / Roblox

Additionally, Roblox has expanded its advertising capabilities by making immersive video ads accessible to all advertisers as of May 1st. This innovative advertising format enables brands to engage with Roblox’s extensive user base, over half of whom are Gen Z users, without the need for custom-built 3D content. Brands can now use a self-serve Ads Manager to place ads, featuring options like genre targeting and audience estimators, to effectively reach an audience that is elusive through traditional and 2D media.

Courtesy of Roblox

These advertising capabilities have been tested since November by a few select brands including HUGO, Walmart and Warner Bros. It has since been positively received, with research indicating that 75% of Roblox users are more likely to notice brands on the platform compared to other media. These ads have proven to enhance brand awareness, consideration, and user actions such as sharing the brand on social media, demonstrating a strong potential for brand lift and user interaction. This not only reflects a growing monetisation opportunity for Roblox creators but also a unique marketing avenue for brands.

Why It Matters: The recent initiatives by Roblox to integrate real-world e-commerce within its gaming platform and to enhance its advertising capabilities represent a transformative shift in how online shopping and digital advertising are approached. For Walmart, the pilot test could pave the way for many more brands and broader e-commerce initiatives within digital worlds, potentially establishing it as a major player in virtual commerce. For Roblox, expanding advertising capabilities also opens new revenue streams and solidifies its position not just as a gaming platform, but as a comprehensive digital ecosystem. These developments indicate a future where the boundaries between digital and physical consumer engagement continue to blur, offering new and exciting possibilities for user interaction and brand integration within virtual environments.


  • Roblox and Walmart, launched an e-commerce experience within the game where users can purchase physical Walmart items directly in the game, complete with home delivery and digital counterpart.

  • The e-commerce partnership is live for a month as part of a pilot test and may be extended to give access to other brands if successful.

  • Roblox has made immersive video ads available to all advertisers, utilising a self-serve Ads Manager with advanced targeting features, not requiring 3D knowledge.

  • After testing the ads with partners brands since November, studies showed that 75% of Roblox users are more likely to notice advertised brands on the platform, with significant improvements in brand awareness and user engagement.

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2- Gucci's innovative approach to engaging young Audiences on Zepeto

Gucci has recently launched a travel-dedicated store within the Zepeto gaming platform, showcasing a novel approach to brand engagement. Zepeto, operated by NAVER Z, offers a unique user-generated content (UGC) platform where Gucci has strategically positioned itself to connect with a younger demographic who may not be as accessible through traditional marketing strategies. 

Courtesy of Stephen Dypiangco

The virtual store is not just another digital shop; it transforms players into Gucci bags participating in an imaginative game of hide & seek, cleverly integrating product exposure with interactive gameplay. This simple yet effective execution has drawn significant attention, with the Gucci experience attracting 219K recent visits and maintaining an impressive 89% user satisfaction rating. Previous Gucci activations on the Zepeto platform have seen over 6 million visits, underscoring the potential reach and impact of such innovative marketing strategies. 

"Gucci Cosmos" experience in The Sandbox

Gucci's digital ventures extend beyond Zepeto in the past years. For instance, on Roblox, the brand has launched immersive spaces like "Gucci Garden" and "Gucci Town," which allowed users to interact creatively with the brand. In "The Sandbox," Gucci introduced "Gucci Cosmos," a virtual London that engages users with brand history through interactive quests to name a few.

Why It Matters: Gucci's venture into the world of UGC platforms like Zepeto represents more than just a marketing gimmick; it keeps showing the interest of luxury brands to adapt to the digital era as it is also not the first time Gucci gets involved with gaming platform. By engaging with users in an interactive and entertaining format, Gucci is not only increasing its brand visibility among a hard-to-reach audience but also fostering a new level of brand appreciation and loyalty. As users play and interact with Gucci products in a fun and immersive environment, they develop a personal connection with the brand, which can translate into real-world interest and sales.


  • Gucci introduced a travel-themed store on the Zepeto platform, targeting younger audiences less reachable via traditional marketing.

  • The store features a game where players become Gucci bags in a hide & seek game, blending product exposure with fun gameplay.

  • This Zepeto experience has attracted 219K recent visits with an 89% satisfaction rate. Earlier activations reached over 6 million visits.

  • Gucci is committed to integrate itself into digital and gaming worlds, not only enhancing brand visibility but also building brand loyalty and personal connections with users, potentially increasing real-world interest and sales.

3- Estée Lauder and Microsoft forge ahead with AI innovation lab

Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) and Microsoft have taken a significant step in their collaboration by announcing the launch of the AI Innovation Lab. This initiative marks an expansion of their ongoing global strategic relationship, which began in 2017. Through this new venture, the companies aim to harness the advanced capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service to empower the Estée Lauder brands.

The primary goal is to develop tools that enable internal teams to swiftly identify consumer trends and demands to respond faster, enhancing product development and refining customer interactions. This strategic move is designed to support ELC's 20-plus brands—including Clinique, MAC, and Estée Lauder—to build stronger relations with their consumers. It also aims at enabling faster and more effective production innovation using gen AI tools for R&D.

The AI Innovation Lab will build on the existing foundations laid by the two corporations. With their past collaboration, ELC utilised Azure AI to create a voice-enabled makeup assistant app, a first-of-its-kind mobile app launched in early 2023 made for visually impaired users, showcasing their commitment to integrating cutting-edge technology. The collaboration further extended to tools that leverage Estée Lauder's proprietary database, facilitating quick and locally relevant marketing campaigns.

The voice-enabled make-up assistant (VMA), AI-powered app by ELC
Courtesy of Lucy Partington

In addition to Microsoft, ELC has deepened its relationships with other tech partners, such as Google Cloud, employing generative AI to streamline operations and monitor consumer feedback across various platforms.

Why it matters: The establishment of the AI Innovation Lab by Estée Lauder and Microsoft is a testament to the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in the beauty industry. By leveraging generative AI, Estée Lauder Companies is not only aiming to stay ahead of rapidly evolving consumer trends but also to foster a more dynamic and responsive product development process. This partnership exemplifies how AI can be strategically utilised to enhance customer experiences and operational efficiency, setting a benchmark for innovation in the cosmetic sector.


  • Estée Lauder and Microsoft have launched an AI Innovation Lab to enhance product development and customer experiences using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.

  • The AI lab builds on their ongoing partnership since 2017, initially marked by the creation of a voice-enabled makeup assistant for visually impaired.

  • The lab aims to develop AI tools to help Estée Lauder brands quickly adapt to consumer trends and launch targeted marketing campaigns.

  • This initiative highlights the strategic use of AI in the beauty industry to improve responsiveness to market trends and innovate product development efficiently.

4- Stripe resumes crypto payments after 6 Years, beginning with USDC stablecoin 

In a significant move within the digital payments landscape, Stripe, the global payments platform valued at $65 billion, has recently announced its plans to reintegrate cryptocurrency into its payment options. Starting from this summer, Stripe will accept payments in USDC, a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, through the blockchain networks of Solana, Ethereum, and Polygon. Stablecoins like USDC are designed to offer the benefits of cryptocurrency, such as borderless transactions and digital security, without the volatility typical of other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. 

This reintroduction of crypto payments comes after Stripe ceased supporting Bitcoin in 2018 due to its volatility and lack of usage. Yet, Stripe has continued to explore the crypto space but has also expanded its services to support NFT purchases and enhance security measures with KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements in 2022. This strategic pivot reflects Stripe’s renewed confidence in the utility of cryptocurrencies as a viable medium of exchange. According to the company’s president, improvements in transaction speeds and reductions in costs have made crypto more practical for everyday transactions. This move could position Stripe as a forward-thinking leader in the payment processing industry, leveraging blockchain technology to enhance the efficiency and accessibility of global e-commerce transactions. 

Why it matters: Stripe's decision to support cryptocurrency payments, specifically through stablecoins, is more than just a technical update—it's a strong signal of the growing acceptance and maturation of cryptocurrencies as part of the mainstream financial ecosystem. By choosing USDC, a stablecoin that maintains a stable value relative to the US dollar, Stripe addresses the volatility concerns that previously deterred widespread crypto adoption for payments. This not only broadens the potential for crypto in e-commerce but also enhances Stripe’s offerings to merchants worldwide, enabling them to tap into a growing base of crypto-savvy consumers.


  • Stripe announced it will reintroduce cryptocurrency payments starting this summer, supporting USDC stablecoin transactions via Solana, Ethereum, and Polygon networks.

  • Improvements in transaction speeds and cost reductions have reinstated Stripe's confidence in cryptocurrencies as practical for everyday transactions. 

  • Stripe's decision to support stablecoin payments is a significant indication of cryptocurrencies becoming more integrated and accepted within the mainstream financial ecosystem, potentially enhancing e-commerce opportunities globally.

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5- Ray-Ban Meta's AI-Integrated smart glasses: A leap into the future of wearables

Meta, in collaboration with Ray-Ban, has introduced a significant update to its second-generation smart sunglasses, infusing them with advanced AI capabilities. This latest iteration now features Meta’s ChatGPT-enabled AI assistant, transforming these stylish sunglasses into a powerful interactive tool. Users can now access a voice-activated AI that offers real-time translation (from sound and visual) as well as object identification directly through the glasses. This integration allows for seamless interaction with the digital world without the need to pull out a smartphone. Additionally, the glasses now support video calling via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, leveraging dual front-facing cameras to share the wearer's view. With these upgrades, Meta's smart glasses go beyond traditional functionality, offering a blend of fashion and futuristic technology.

Courtesy of Meta

Meta's latest smart glasses not only boast new technological advancements but also come in two new frame designs that maintain the classic Ray-Ban aesthetic. This design choice ensures that the glasses blend seamlessly into everyday life, unlike more conspicuous smart glasses of the past, such as Google Glass. The inclusion of everyday communication tools like message sending and music playback through simple voice commands, combined with the ability to snap pictures and receive instant information about objects or translate text in foreign languages, enriches user interaction and utility. However, users should note that while many features perform well, others are still under development, and as with any smart device, privacy concerns about data collection should be considered.

Why it matters: The integration of AI into wearable technology that can be easily worn, like Meta's smart glasses, is more than just a technological advancement; it represents a shift in how we interact with the world around us. By enabling users to receive information and communicate directly through their eyewear, Meta is paving the way for a future where our digital and physical realities merge even more seamlessly. Although the current AI capabilities are still evolving, the potential for smart glasses to become a primary interface for personal computing is immense. They offer a discreet, convenient alternative to smartphones by providing hands-free, immediate access to information and connectivity.


  • The latest Ray-ban Meta smart glasses are ChatGPT-enabled with an AI assistant for real-time translation, object identification, and interactive features.

  • It comes with diverse features from allowing users to send messages, play music, take photos, and provide instant information, all through voice commands, mostly it can recognise an object that the users sees.

  • This renewed collaboration represents a significant step towards integrating digital and physical realities, suggesting a shift towards wearable devices as primary computing interfaces.

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