Let's examine how the pop star released two UGC items on Roblox without any fanfare.
I'm a big fan of pop music singer Olivia Rodrigo. Not only do I enjoy her catchy and angsty songs (my favorite song is "deja vu," which I'm proud to say I discovered before my tween daughters did), but I also love that we both have similar cultural roots as Filipino-Americans. 🇵🇭
So when I recently learned (from a Metaverse Marcom reader!) that Ms. Rodrigo had launched UGC virtual items on Roblox to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of her debut album, I was stunned.
So many questions swirled in my head.
How did I not hear about this?
Why was't this on my radar?
How did the UGC items perform?
Was this drop a huge success?
Who made the items?
Let's explore what happened, how it went, and what I think should be done moving forward.
Releasing Olivia Rodrigo UGC on Roblox is a Great Idea
First off before diving into what Olivia Rodrigo did on Roblox, let's explore whether or not Roblox makes sense for her and her brand.
The fastest and easiest way to collect data on whether or not an artist or IP resonates with the Roblox audience is to search for them on Roblox. In general, the more results you can find of the IP on the platform, the better. It signals that members of the community really care about the brand and are willing to spend their time bringing it to life.
When you do a search for "Olivia Rodrigo" on the platform, you see lots of user-generated results across several categories, which shows really strong resonance with the audience:
UGC in the Roblox Marketplace
User Created Games
Fan-Made Roblox Groups
If I were advising Ms. Rodrigo's team, I'd say that Roblox is a great fit for them and that there's serious demand there from her fans.
Olivia Rodrigo Released 2 Items, and They Did Poorly
So in May of 2023, Olivia released a cropped T-shirt that featured an image of her drivers license (made famous by the hit song "drivers license).
Based on the low number of favorites the item has (810), this item did not perform well in terms of sales. I'm guessing that it did not sell more than 1 thousand items in total.
At the price point of 100 Robux (Roblox's in-game currency), the brand owner could expect to make 30% of each sale, which equates to about $0.38. So if they sold 1K units, the brand would have made approximately $380. From a revenue perspective, that would be way too low to justify the expense of putting this program together to begin with.
The second item was more creative and whimsical: SOUR Stickers Aura that go around avatar heads.
These performer better with 1.3K favorites, but again those are very low. Let's say that this sold 2K items, the revenue generated of $760 again would be super low for brands.
I would hope that an artist that's this well known would have items that hit anywhere from 10K - 40K favorites, hopefully generating between $4,000 - $15,000 in revenue per item.
Why Did This Perform So Poorly?
For an artist of Olivia Rodrigo's caliber and fame, the favorites and sales should be higher. At least that I would hope going in. Here are some of my theories on what contributed to the poor results.
Items weren't a good fit for the platform. Through my experience working with brands like Hot Topic on making and selling Roblox UGC, I've seen that big, bold styles that grab your attention seem to perform the best. While the Olivia Rodrigo aura is cool, it doesn't necessarily capture your attention, especially from far away. The same is true of the t-shirt, which can have Olivia's face blocked easily. For those fans who want to scream to the rooftops that they love Olivia Rodrigo, what UGC items could be made that would convey loud and clear their fandom to other players? That's what I would focus on.
Not enough items made. It's hard to bat 1.000 in baseball. You're not going to get a home run or even a hit in every single at bat. But in order to make contact and get on base, you have to have lots of chances (at bats - to continue this awesome baseball analogy). If you only put out two items, and none of them work (as in the case here), then you're 0/2 and batting 0.00. However, if you release 5 items, and one of them works, at least you're 1/5 and batting 2.00. That one hit can drive lots of sales and marketing impressions. It can also give you valuable data on what works on the platform for your brand. If given the choice between making less or more UGC items, opt for more. You'll benefit from the learnings and have more chances at success.
Not enough buzz. As I noted in the past, TikTok is a huge driver for UGC discovery. And so looking across social channels can help us determine how much excitement and enthusiasm there was for any given brand activation. A quick search on Twitter revealed this post from a Roblox-focused news account...
But even though 222K Views is pretty solid, this post likely did not resonate with enough of Olivia Rodrigo's core fans to drive meaningful sales.
On TikTok, there was also very little posted about the UGC drop. Here below is one of the most popular videos related to this release, which only has about 60K views. Again, I'd hope to see related fan-made videos with hundreds of thousands of views.
If you are getting such a low level of content posted on social media, it speaks to the UGC items not really resonating. And again, that could potentially have been solved if more items were created to begin with (with the idea being that at least one of them would have been highly coveted and would break through).
What Went Right for This Release?
Despite the low engagement on the UGC items and across social media, there were some bright spots that caught my attention.
It was cool to see an official Olivia Rodrigo avatar was created and that the account attracted 5,000 followers. This initial avatar setup step can be a hurdle that brands have trouble getting over, so this was a good step.
In addition, an official group for Olivia Rodrigo fans was started, and it now has over 4,000 followers.
Within that group, there are enthusiastic comments from fans, who are excited about their favorite artist being on Roblox and coming out with a new album soon. Kudos to the Olivia Rodrigo team for leaving comments open, so fans can interact with each other and share feedback with the brand.
Recommendations to Olivia Rodrigo's Roblox Team
If I were advising the team responsible for this Roblox brand activation, here's what I would tell them.
Don't get discouraged. You've already tackled the difficulty of getting internal buy-in within your organization to bring Olivia (one of your top stars) to Roblox and standing up her account on the platform. Now it should be much easier to release new items moving forward. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep testing. Try new styles. It takes time to figure out what works and what doesn't work on Roblox, regardless of how big and famous you are. By trying out other types of head accessories, backpacks, and clothing, you'll be able to gather valuable data that can inform your strategy moving forward.
Engage with your fans. There's clearly a small but highly-engaged audience that can't get enough of Olivia on Roblox. How are you going to engage with them via your Roblox group? Will you use Discord to foster that community dialogue? Figure this out and deliver value to them that will keep them happy and sharing their enthusiasm across the internet.
Get talent involved. I know this is a big ask, but it can have success like K-Pop band Twice had in promoting its Roblox game via Roblox's TikTok account. If Olivia were personally involved in promoting future UGC drops, I imagine the results would be 10x better at least.
Consider partnering with an established player in the space like Hot Topic, who has over 28K members within its Roblox group (which we at Metaverse Marcom helped launch). By leveraging Hot Topic's existing reach on Roblox and their team's expertise in merchandise, it might be able to help the brand break through and connect with a larger audience.
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment and sports brands enter Roblox and monetize via UGC.