Gaming platform Roblox is still seen by many as a kids’ game, but the truth is that its users are growing up. Gen Z players — or players aged 17-24 — are Roblox’s fastest-growing demographic, with players aged 13 and older making up more than half of the platform’s 70 million users.
In a new survey, Roblox asked 1,500 U.S. and UK users between the ages of fourteen and 26 to describe how they express themselves in the metaverse. It found that avatars and digital fashion are hugely important to Gen Z, sometimes even more than physical fashion.
For those unfamiliar with Roblox, it’s important to note that every player is represented in the game by a fully customizable digital avatar, with body options ranging from block figures and bunnies to astronauts and aliens. All kinds of hair, clothing, and even digital-only accessories like floating auras are available, too, so options for expression are practically endless.
We’ve summarized the most interesting elements of the report below.
Avatars help Gen Z be their “authentic selves”
A significant number of those surveyed (40 percent) said they find it easier to present their authentic selves in the metaverse than in the physical world. In addition to saying that digital self-expression helps build connections with others (29 percent), boosts confidence (24 percent), and allows them to express their true self (21 percent), 36 percent of respondents said their avatar felt “more me” than the version of themselves they post to 2D social media IRL.
The stats also underscore how important digital fashion can be for exploring gender identity. Twenty-nine percent become more open to and comfortable with dressing more gender-fluid, with 29 percent of respondents saying they experiment with “body types somewhat different than mine (bigger, smaller, more muscular, etc.),” 16 percent experiment with non-human body types, and 15 percent experiment with body types that represent other genders.
Avatar style influences what Gen Z wears IRL
The majority of respondents — 84 percent — said their physical style is at least “somewhat” inspired by what their avatar and other avatars wear, while 54 percent specified that they are “very” or “extremely inspired” by their avatar’s fashion. The vast majority of Gen Z respondents (88 percent) said that expressing themselves in immersive spaces has likely helped them feel more comfortable expressing themselves in the physical world.
That may be because many said they were also judged two times less on their looks in the metaverse than in the physical world. Plus, 62 percent said they care “a lot” that their avatar looks good to them, while 37 percent said they care “a lot” that what their avatar is wearing looks good to others.
When asked how their avatars’ style inspired them to change their IRL style, 42 percent said their avatar’s style expanded the kind of fashion they wear, 37 percent said it encouraged them to change their hairstyle, and 34 percent wore bolder, more colorful styles because of their avatar.
Gen Z is willing to spend money on new digital looks
Most Gen Z users are willing to spend real money on styling their digital avatars. When asked what amount they’d be comfortable budgeting each month to spend on digital fashion, 52 percent said up to $10, 19 percent said up to $20, and 18 percent said between $50 and $100.
This year, Roblox users made over 165 billion changes to their avatars (hair, clothes, etc), which is 38 percent more than in 2022. They also bought nearly 1.6 billion digital fashion items and accessories, a 15 percent increase year-over-year.
Brand recognition still matters in the metaverse
If you’re hoping to get away from branded clothing in the metaverse, you’re out of luck. Roblox reports that three in four Gen Z respondents say wearing digital fashions from a recognized brand is at least “somewhat” important to them, with 47 percent noting it’s “very” or “extremely important” to them.
Plus, brand activations on Roblox do affect how users view the brand in the physical world. A majority — 84 percent — say that they are “somewhat likely” to consider buying from a brand in the physical world after trying on the brand’s item virtually. Fifty percent are “very” or “extremely likely” to do so.
Roblox has invested heavily in building up its branded experiences over the past several years, with immersive worlds from Gucci, Vans, Hello Kitty, and more pulling in millions of visits.