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Fashion and Gaming are a Match made in Hyrule
Why fashion and gaming collabs are taking off and why content strategy is key to making them soar
Fashion gaming is an accelerating market with opportunities to reach new, younger audiences in more dynamic ways.
Fashion and luxury collaborations with gaming platforms work well when the language of both brands builds something new.
The gaming industry, generally, and fashion gaming, in particular, are big and growing fast. Global revenues will reach $300 billion in a few years, up from around $150 billion before the pandemic. It is larger than Hollywood and the global music industry combined. Searches for #gaming on TikTok yield almost 390 billion views versus less than 230 billion for #fashion and 31 billion for #luxury.
The Market Landscape of Gaming
The vast majority of gamers are part of the luxury industry’s high growth Gen-Z demographic. Over 60 percent of regular game players are age 34 and under. This includes large segments of the demographic that drove all of luxury’s annual revenue growth in 2022 according to Bain. Within that group, around 40 percent of gamers are women.
Half of the world’s 3 billion regular gamers are located in Asia, the luxury industry’s major region for growth during the past decade. Add in the industry’s other major growth centers, North America and Europe, and that represents over 90 percent of the gamer market.
The Inevitable Romance of Luxury and Gaming
Gaming and luxury are alike in that they try to monetize immersion in an experience. As Matthew Ball observes, since video games achieved the technological sophistication to move beyond 2D designs with predetermined paths (think Pacman) to 3D fantasies, many of the most popular titles have been immersive fantasies where users controlled their journeys, often spending as much time exploring the virtual worlds as tourists than completing the assigned quest.
Likewise, part of luxury’s appeal is being immersed in an experience. How does shopping, buying, and wearing luxury make you feel? Does it feel special to engage with a luxury brand versus a non-luxury brand? Does it feel unique? Does it feel personal? Does it justify your time and treasure? In this sense, you might say that luxury is not about goods or services. It is Experience as a Service (EAAS).
As this essay by AppNova points out, the demand for commoditized experiences is rising:
“...[because] our opportunities for real-life connection and sensory experiences are decreasing since we’re constantly on demand, checking our phones every five minutes for pop-ups, swipes, and timeline scrolls. We’re thirsty for ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ connections, including brand experiences.”
On Luxury Gaming and the Need for Content Strategy
Immersive experiences like gaming and the metaverse are not just another channel. They are modes of being and experiencing. The retail experience for digital native shoppers is communal.
Charli Cohen, founder and CEO of metaverse platform RSTLSS, told Jing Daily: “Fashion is supposed to be worn. By collaborating with the gaming industry you already have the existing audience, but also the utility to use fashion in the way it’s really designed for.”
Fashion gaming is all about narrative-driven play and community building through immersive, incentivized engagement. Gaming is a big business that is in no small way all about quality content. The opportunity is huge for fashion and luxury brands to build new audiences within the gaming community and to draw existing consumers into fashion gaming environments. But, all of this requires a project-specific content strategy tied to business goals and user needs, especially the inherently narrative-based structure of gaming (even if they are not story-based quests, which we will explore in another post).
Fashion and luxury collaborations with gaming platforms work well when the language of both brands builds something new. In spite of the stereotype, gamers are neither disinterested in fashion nor immune to branded content with games. They do not even mind sales-focused content, such as gear to purchase or specific brand badges or incentives within games. But, the branded content has to make sense in context and not feel like an advertisement.
For gaming initiatives, like the metaverse, fashion and luxury brands need a content strategy with a clear vision—including goals and success measures—for what they’re trying to do, why they’re doing it, and how they will measure success to create uniquely immersive, memorable gaming experiences.
The intersection of fashion and gaming provides a unique opportunity for fashion and luxury brands to tell better, more authentic stories to consumers. An investment in gaming allows brands to increase brand awareness and tap into new audiences. Gaming also allows fashion and luxury brands the chance to engage in interactive storytelling, make use of visually compelling, cutting-edge technology, and form collaborative partnerships. The rapidly-expanding nature of the gaming industry offers new opportunities for fashion and luxury brands to stay relevant and build new, exciting experiences for the next generation of consumers.
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