Zara parent company Inditex, has inked a deal with Facebook to launch an interactive AR game for its Pull&Bear brand. The brand shared the new initiative on its Facebook page asking its followers to access the game, which is currently only available via mobile on Facebook and Instagram.
This isn't the first intersection of fast fashion and gaming we've seen in recent times. UNIQLO, for example, also made its way into the world of Animal Crossing creating its own bespoke “UNIQLO Island” on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. Upon entering UNIQLO Island, players of the Nintendo Switch popular game were able to enter a realistic UNIQLO store. In a cross-platform strategy, UNIQLO also released special content for Animal Crossing players to fully enjoy the collection in-game and the island boasted custom designs portals, which featured 21 t-shirt designs linked to its new t-shirt collection in real life.
Beyond fast fashion houses, traditional luxury fashion brands have also been experimenting with gaming to tap into the younger demographic. Balenciaga, along with streamline Media Group, developed the Balenciaga's Afterworld "The Age of Tomorrow" game and is now working to build an interactive, 3D gaming experience that is set to launch Balenciaga's Fall 2021 Collection. Meanwhile, fashion brand Gucci has also bolstered up its presence in the gaming industry through a partnership with online gaming platform, Roblox where it unveiled a lush "Gucci Garden", a virtual landscape that is divided into themed rooms, where users can change out of their avatars and become neutral mannequins.
While there has been a rise in the number of fashion houses now dipping its toes into the gaming pool, Xiaofeng Wang, senior analyst, Forrester told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that credit should go to the industry for experimenting in the gaming world even pre-pandemic. "Fashion brands have realised that a large portion of their target audiences, especially younger ones, are also online gamers," Wang explained. In fact, one of the most headline grabbing partnerships between fashion and gaming occured in 2019 where Louis Vuitton (LV) inked a deal with League of Legends and LV created an in-game prestige skin for characters in the game and designed a real capsule collection.
Nonetheless, the cross pollination of fashion and gaming has definitely picked up pace since the global lockdowns and through the pandemic, as more more brands want to leverage on digital tools to engage with consumers by either collaborating with existing popular games or creating their own. .
"Fashion brands investing in online gaming is more for marketing and branding than sales. Done well, it will improve customer engagement and brand affinity, increase the awareness of new products/collections, and ultimately will help sales as well. After all, it’s not too difficult to embed purchase functionality in online games - much like what live streaming commerce is doing today," Wang added.
A push to retail?
With virtual, augmentation and mixed reality games being launched often, the gaming arena is an untapped asset to get prospective shoppers to shop whilst playing a game. Moreover, collaborating with a retailer could defray the costs of game development as well, said Kevin Kan, CEO of Break Out Consulting Asia.
Lauding Inditex's latest move, Kan added that while the marriage of fashion and gaming is not new, it isn't usual to see brands bank on Facebook and Instagram gaming as a choice of execution. However, the platforms do enable brands to easily build and engage with their existing base of customers, while luring prospecting ones.
"Getting people involved in a game, and potentially flashing sale items or closest store location whilst playing on Facebook and Instagram is a great real-time marketing opportunity," he explained. Moreover, the rise of gaming and fashion could also drive footfall back to retail.
"With the ability to have location-based marketing and all the data on historical location, it wouldn’t be inconceivable that the retailer could entice purchases through the use of offers or coupons. They could drive a gamer into a physical store to complete tasks and earn points or coupons," he said. As technology matures, Kan adds that the process of window shopping and trail rooms could also be evolved as consumers use gaming avatars to decide if an outfit works in their favour.
"In our 'insta' world, gaming is a great way to influence shopping patterns. It’s a great way for prospective buyers to see how items look on them or their avatar in the game," he added.
Not just for the young
Robert Godinho, managing partner, MediaMonks, said that the use of games, AR, and VR has been a "hot trend" over the last year, to enhance brand user experience, attributing it to the lack of physical experiences the year brought. However contrary to popular belief, Godinho believes that it isn't just the youth that are being engaged and lured via gaming, it is also consumers in their mid 40's.
Godinho also added that catching the attention of consumers is key to achieving an engaged audience and gaming is a great tool for keeping them hooked and entertained - be it for product launches, sales, limited edition products or just being active brand loyalists.
I think the use of interactive content through game tools is just about scratching the surface.
"As the gaming industry develops, I imagine AI and machine learning will also come into play to increasingly help in customised solution for varied audiences that automatically upgrades or modifies itself as per the viewing frequency of the content by its user," he added.
Alvina Seah, managing director of GOVT added that the trend of gaming is not just going to remain prevalent in fashion but also in other categories. Calling the gaming industry a "very committed tribe", Alvina Seah listed the many Animal Crossing collaborations such as that with Sentosa, Uniqlo in recent times as an indication of the rise of interactive marketing and gaming.
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