WHY LUXURY BRANDS ARE PLAYING GAMES

Maddie Cullen
13 July 2018

Luxury brands have traditionally used print, TV and OOH to sell themselves, but in a world where those channels look like they’re declining in effectiveness, what can they do? Less people pick up magazines to find out what’s hot anymore, they’ll more likely pick up their phone.

If a few years ago you told me I could play the latest Chanel game in 2018 I would have laughed you down. Why would a brand renowned for luxury, elegance and high fashion release something that’s better known under the likes of PlayStation and Xbox?

Okay so they haven’t released a Chanel Battle Wars. But they have released a game, or rather a whole gaming pop-up in Paris. And it’s not just them, either. Jo Malone turned heads with their in-store and online ‘grabber’ game, harping back to bygone arcades and seaside resorts.

jo malone website game page

So if two top luxury brands are doing it, maybe it really is in vogue?

Get with it

One of the biggest driving forces behind these campaigns is in a bid to reach a younger audience. Like any brand, luxury products need a new audience cycle to stay afloat. And as the spending power will eventually shift to the younger Millennials and Gen Z, they’re the place to go.

One particular demographic within these young people to look at are HENRYs – high earners, not rich yet. Although they might not be able to splash out on Gucci yet, they’ll amass a significant disposable income in the coming years. Luxury brands have traditionally set themselves as aspirational buys, where people aim to one day own certain products. So making sure HENRYs are in the know is crucial.

And it’s not just those coming into wealth soon. Giving any young person the desire to own a luxury item can be the start of a journey to purchase (even if it’s years down the line).

So how do luxury brands achieve this?

The Chanel and Jo Malone games harp back to the classic N64 and arcade styles that these grown-up kids remember playing. Chanel’s pop-up features a range of games from Space Invaders with lipstick to other classic styles all with a Chanel twist. And everyone remembers battling with a ‘grabber’ from the Jo Malone campaign. This year’s runways have been peppered with looks from the 70’s to the 90’s as people yearn for this nostalgia and that has trickled down to all aspects of luxury. These games not only replicate that nostalgic look, but the enjoyment of childhood.

Chanel lipstick game               (Image: Cosmetics Business)

But it’s not just the style of the campaigns that’s interesting. Using games taps into the digital-savvy nature of these younger consumers. They’ve grown up with technology in hand and have since fully immersed themselves in an online world.

Consumers are incredibly connected and spend time on phones, laptops and consoles. It has taken a long time for luxury brands to accept digital as a part of the journey to purchase, but finally they are – even if most still require someone to be in-store to buy.

Get out there

When surveyed, people rated the top reasons to buy luxury are for quality and history. Quality is a given, it’s what everyone understands about luxury, but the history aspect is interesting. It suggests a brand that has built themselves up and has a story.

A story is a key ingredient that sets luxury apart from other brands. When someone buys a Chanel handbag they know it’s more than a bag. Every time they pick it up on the way out they’ll feel good – and that’s because of the associated story and message of the brand.

Match up in @gucci. Photo: @duckytheyorkie

A post shared by HYPEBAE (@hypebae) on

But how can brands adapt their story now to a modern consumer base? Experience. Let customers build their own story with the brand. In a world where Red Bull is as influential as Louis Vuitton, LV has to create a world around their brand that’s different from a high street experience.

And that is what these campaigns from Jo Malone and Chanel are doing. It’s not one-way advertising, they’re creating something positive for both sides. Chanel’s pop-up may be physical, but their online posts will add to it and show that Chanel is more than just a product. Chanel is an experience.

Get real

In the past luxury brands have been exclusive, but that’s no longer a selling point, they need to bridge the gap. Consumers once looked to magazines to tell them what they should be buying this season, but with the explosion of the internet’s online sharing communities, people themselves are dictating what’s in vogue.

Because of this, brands need to look to what consumers want. When you ask someone now how they’d spend £5000 in a day they’re more likely to pick an experience than a product. Even if it’s a shopping spree, there’s still that experiential element where people get to do something.

PARIS-BIARRITZ A sensation of freshness. A journey in every spray. #LesEauxdeChanel

A post shared by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on

The games from Chanel and Jo Malone are perfect for this because they’re fun. No matter how aesthetically pleasing a brands Instagram is, the customer isn’t getting that much from it. A game, on the other hand, invites them to do something and actively get involved. Those that play will have a great brand experience.

Luxury brands need to adapt to this new market by building a relationship with their younger consumers. Creating fun, engaging experiences are the way to do this and games seem like a perfect fit. We think other brands should take note and follow in the footsteps of Chanel and Jo Malone.

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