This week, an in-depth look at the current play strategies of fashion brands.
Fashion label Kenneth Cole made its first foray into mobile gaming on Thursday with the launch of its cover of the game High Heels! During the first half of June, players of the popular game, from social game developer Zynga, will be able to dress their avatars from head to toe in the brand’s Pride 2021 collection.
Since January, high heels! The app has been downloaded over 60 million times, according to Zynga. The popularity of the game, in which players collect high heels to grow taller and avoid various obstacles on a virtual track, has been fueled by TikTok. Messages from people playing the game have went viral, attracting over 4.5 million views.
“The partnership is about celebrating our differences and promoting acceptance and inclusion,” said Kenneth Cole, President and Creative Director of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. Among the five styles featured in the game are a t-shirt with a rainbow graphic that reads: “Being different is what we have in common.”
The styles will be “presented to players as soon as they start playing”, according to Bernard Kim, President of Zynga Publishing. Kenneth Cole and Zynga plan to promote collaboration on digital marketing channels.
The collaboration marks the first brand partnership for High Heels !, although Kim noted that “there is huge potential and market for fashion in games.”
“Players love the ability to style and personalize their experience, from creating in-game avatars to customizing game boards,” he said.
Kenneth Cole was support equal rights for the LGBTQ + community with dedicated pride styles “for decades,” Cole said. Starting in 2017, it expanded beyond t-shirts to rainbow-striped sneakers, and it added new styles every year. Currently, for every Pride product purchased from its ecommerce site, 1% of the retail price is donated to the Mental Health Coalition, founded by Cole in May 2020.
“We hope the high heels! players become Kenneth Cole buyers after learning more about the brand through our partnership, ”said Cole.
Kim said Zynga has seen “increased levels of player engagement and social connections throughout. [its] portfolio ”over the past year, people staying at home. Zynga is also behind games such as Words With Friends and Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, which are played together in 150 countries.
Case Study: How Kappa Used an Esports Collaboration to Drive Sales and Awareness
Dr. Hayes, President of Kappa North America, has ended the brand’s pre-pandemic (late 2019) collaboration with the FaZe Clan esports team.
The public: well beyond the “ nerds of the game ”
“Gaming is great. It’s streaming, personalities – these kids have huge following. They’re guys who’ve never been pro gamers – they’re Twitch stars, YouTube stars. You know, you’ve always thought: gaming nerds. But now everyone is playing games; 47% of players are women. And, really, a lot of these kids are cool; they’re streetwear kids, they’re fashion kids. And that meant there was an opportunity, there was a market. They already wore Kappa and they already love the brand.
The opportunity: white space in marketing
“There was no [fashion] collaboration with an eSport team before us [teaming with] FaZe Clan. FaZe Clan is a lifestyle organization, but I [consider] esports to be part of sport. It’s a lifestyle sport and there’s something cool about it. Meanwhile, Kappa is a legacy sportswear brand, and it’s going to be tough for [us] to compete with the Nikes and the Adidas and the Pumas [of the world]. We’re a billion dollar brand, but we’re a smaller guy. So I have to be agile and cut the noise. When Nike or Adidas get into esports – really get in, really want to play – it’s over. So i needed to come in [there] first.”
The original plan: sponsorship of an eSport team
“I was actually trying to make a deal with FaZe Clan, where we would sponsor their esports team. To sell them the idea, I told them they could be like the Oregon Ducks. Anyone who watches college sports knows the Oregon Ducks have the best uniforms. Nike makes them a ton of different uniforms and helps them recruit; people want to go out there and play just so they can wear the uniform. I said that while we are a bigger sportswear brand, we are small and nimble. We would have flexibility. We could make four different jerseys and follow [suits] and the clothes – we really could have put it up. Normally when you work with one of the bigger companies there is more politics that comes into play. In the end we couldn’t get it. [deal] Finished. FaZe Clan was growing and they had invested. They were selling seats just to wear their jersey. G Fuel was one of their biggest sponsors, and they paid millions, Nissan was on their jersey too.
The final partnership: the Lifestyle product collaboration
“I saw an opportunity for us to at least do something [with them] on the lifestyle side. We [ended up doing] tracksuits, jerseys, fleece, t-shirts, shorts, slides, a duffel bag. The product is king – and the product looked so good it transcended the game. We had a FaZe Clan logo. [on the pieces], but some people who bought it might not even know what FaZe Clan was.
It wasn’t about collecting streetwear, Kappa isn’t exactly a hype brand. There are a lot of FaZe Clan fans out there, and the customer really wanted it. We did a campaign shoot with several crew members, and there was a billboard in LA And FaZe Clan had secured a pop-up in LA as well, and we were the first [product] release it. ”
The results: big sales, eventually
“[The collection] Sold by. The retail purchase was a few million dollars, so it was very important. It was the biggest project FaZe Clan had done to date, and everything was controlled by them. The only place you could purchase it was either during their pop-up activation or on FaZeClan.com.
But it took longer [than expected] for sale because it was much more expensive than anything FaZe Clan had produced. Some items were double the price. In games, until then, everything the product teams were offering was really cheap – too cheap, I thought. Meanwhile, the customer was traveling to Pacsun and Zumiez and spending between $ 80 and $ 90 on brands such as Diamond Supply Co., The Hundreds, and HUF. I said [FaZe Clan] that if they wanted to be that premium brand that transcends gaming as a lifestyle brand, then they had to make sure they had a top quality product. If you want to be the supreme in the game, you have to act like this. And so the evolution started to happen, and they raised their prices a little bit. Since then, they have made many collaborations – Champion [in December 2019] was big enough for them. “
The lesson learned: Streamers (not pro gamers) are the keys to success
“I really believe that the best angle, the most impactful [in esports for brands] right now it’s the lifestyle angle. Unless you are in Asia. I find it difficult to understand the [advantage of having a presence in the] competitive part. Many brands are trying to get started [esports] and they’re like, ‘We have to be around [the] competitive [aspect]”. But they learn: “This is not where it is”. It really is [about] the streaming side. Getting there early allowed us to see this before, examine it and understand it.
3 questions to Lucy Yeomans, founder of Drest
We asked Lucy Yeomans, founder of the Drest-style game, to provide an update on fashion fan adoption of the app which launched in late 2019.
What evidence have you seen that fashion has embraced gambling more in 2021?
“[It’s obvious] in the sheer number of fashion partnerships we’ve seen in the in-game space, a testament to the unique discovery and engagement these environments offer. We are working on successive projects with brands like Gucci, pioneers in the field of fashion and gaming, [plus we’re] see the growing demand from established brands that previously wanted to wait and see how the space developed. In fact, the challenge we face right now is finding the time to welcome them all. “
What trends do you see among Drest players?
“Our [app] the user is our constant source of inspiration, education and motivation. We learn from them every day because we are in constant contact – asking questions, listening and acting on their feedback. They don’t “play” Drest like a traditional game. [Instead] they see it as a platform for discovery, entertainment and style inspiration – a creative outlet. As a result, the time they spend with us increases. Our most engaged users spend up to 33 minutes per day [on the app]. “
How successful has Drest been in driving brand sales on the app?
“Our [users] do a huge job for us by inspiring other users. Click any look created in-game to view all featured items so other users can add them to their Wishlists, tap to purchase them virtually, or connect directly to Farfetch or one of our brands to buy the parts in real life. They can also add a piece to their Drest wardrobe and monitor how often they style it in virtual outfits, to figure out if [a piece] will be a valuable addition to their IRL wardrobe.
We’re also seeing incredible engagement with our brand partnerships, where users interact with a brand’s ad content and then create looks based on specific requirements. We have conducted regular research of our users as part of these campaigns, which allows us to see that the majority of them are more likely to buy [included] articles after being styled with them on Drest. “
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