Gaming is a megatrend; for good reason, it’s an attractive playground for brands to get in touch with younger target groups: The community is curious, networked and active and gaming is a rapidly growing market with 176 billion US dollars in revenue (newzoo 2021) and 2.7 trillion gamers worldwide (IBISWorld 2020).

Credits: Louis Vuitton

Brands can take advantage of this trend by developing their own games or integrating gamification elements into their retail store concepts. In the digital world, some brands are already tapping into the possibilities offered by games: “Advergames” are making a comeback, such as Louis Vuitton’s “Louis the Game”, Balenciaga made headlines with “Afterworld” and brands like Gucci, Adidas or Nike have already established a presence in the Metaverse.

Mathias Ullrich, Managing Director, LIGANOVA

Interaction and customer loyalty through gamification 

While the first steps are being taken in brand marketing, the retail sector has so far largely not exploited the potential inherent in it. In particular, physical retail and experience marketing can benefit greatly from gamification, i.e. game elements in non-game contexts. Gamification offers numerous opportunities to increase the experience in store concepts and to address younger target groups in particular. Here are some examples of how retail can be inspired by gaming:

Game mechanics and dynamics are an effective way to create drive-to-store in a physical retail environment. When the store is involved, gamification can strengthen the bond with customers in a whole new way. At the flagship stores of sports brands such as Nike for example, it is clear how movement-based games offer a “phygital” experience that entertains and engages participants. Last year, on the occasion of the launch of the “React” shoe, Nike introduced the Reactland” virtual environment. This was a game in which the users could extensively test the new shoe as digital avatars on the treadmill, while climbing on buildings or while running on simulated roads. The game promoted consumer confidence in the product and resulted in a remarkable 48 percent of players buying it.

Credits: Nike

On the occasion of the worldwide launch of its pop-ups, the Burberry partnered with Snapchat to create an in-store gamification experience. Snapchat users were able to scan Snapcodes embedded in the pop-ups and were transported to the world of Burberry’s Animal Kingdom. Visitors could click toucans to unlock offers and rewards, for example. Globetrotter produced a groundbreaking, multi-sensory multiplayer VR experience for its 40th anniversary, which has toured the chain’s stores and has now found a permanent home in its Hamburg store in the Europa Passage mall. Fans of the brand are able to embark on an immersive adventure with physical interaction possibilities and playful components modeled after the VR spectacles seen in amusement parks such as Disney and its peers. 

Credits: Burberry

Fendi and Chanel demonstrate how gaming aesthetics can work for non-gaming brands too: At the “Fendi Arcade Game pop-ups” at the luxury department store Harrods, Fendi combined visual merchandising, reminiscent of amusement fairs and 80s video games such as Pac-Man, with clothing packed in arcade game machines.

Credits: Fendi

Inside the “Coco Chanel Game Center,” Chanel’s innovative beauty pop-up arcade at Pacific House in Hong Kong,  visitors were able to explore the make-up products of the fashion house and relive childhood memories of video games.

Credits: Chanel

Retail must make better use of the potential

Although these examples demonstrate creative approaches, at the same time, gamification in retail is still just getting started. Anyone who is familiar with both worlds (games and retail) will recognize that the potential has hardly been exhausted yet. Cross-media storytelling, augmented reality and the digital layer via your own smartphone offer completely new possibilities to bring target groups to the store and to establish a connection between them and the location in the long term.

Five tips for brands:

  1. Have courage and forge new paths that other brands have not yet taken.
  2. Take as inspiration not only components such as collecting points, but also mechanics and dynamics of games.
  3. Integrate storytelling and adapt it accordingly to the content marketing of the brand.
  4. Think about gamification in the store concept right from the start.
  5. In the long term, it is more important to increase the experience through gamification in-store than to create a short-term drive-to-store.

Retailers can now be first movers and benefit sustainably from the gaming trend by increasing interaction through gamification and directing visitor flows. Brick-and-mortar retail stores are not only up against other stores like them and online retail. They also compete for their target groups’ time – including against media such as video games. Gamification can help to turn retail into an experience and thus give retailers a chance in this competition. 

LIGANOVA is specialized in the transformation of commercial spaces into brand experience spaces.