Game On

Many retailers, both bricks-and-mortar and online, are looking to solidify their relationship with young adult, teen, and tween consumers, as well as younger future shoppers. Increasingly, they are turning to gaming as a tool in this quest.

  • Value retailer Five Below partnered with Nerd Street Gamers, a developer of e-sports competition and training facilities, to open e-sports gaming centers in several stores in 2020, with as many as 100 possible going forward (out of 750 total stores). The centers would utilize 3,000 square feet of the typical 8,500-square-foot Five Below location and have 30 to 50 computers. They would generate revenue for the retailer on a pay-as-you-play model while bringing youthful traffic into the store.
  • Luxury design label and retailer Burberry launched a fashion-related online game dubbed B Bounce in October. The game, which was said to be addictive, involved deer, dressed in Burberry puffer jackets, trying to collect objects (often Burberry-branded) and overcome obstacles as they bounced their way to the moon. Players chose their deer’s virtual fashion from items in Burberry’s new Thomas Burberry puffer capsule. Consumers at Burberry’s Regent Street location could play on an in-store video screen, and everyone else could play online. Prizes for winners ranged from custom GIFs to physical puffers. The brand, which has experimented with gaming in China—this was its first effort outside of that country—said research showed its customers, especially in Japan, had a strong affinity for gaming.
  • Sports-centric e-commerce platform Fanatics entered the e-sports arena for the first time by launching apparel, accessories, and memorabilia tied to the Overwatch League, under license from Activision Blizzard. The deal is global and also gives Fanatics the right to run the online shops for teams in the league and the league itself. The connection between Fanatics and e-sports, while relatively new, makes sense, since the pro sports leagues that form the foundation of Fanatics’ business have been getting into e-sports in a big way. Activision Blizzard later expanded its deal with Fanatics beyond e-sports to include oversight of all of the gaming company’s online Blizzard Gear Stores worldwide.
  • Grocery retailer Giant Food Stores launched an augmented-reality game promotion in December, in 15 Pennsylvania stores. Snowflake Search is designed to give children something to do while their parents shop. Customers scan a QR code on an in-store sign to launch the scavenger hunt game, which directs kids to find six characters tied to snowflake signage scattered throughout the store. For each character found, the chain gives Giant Choice Rewards members 50 points, with a 300-point maximum that translates to $3.00 in savings when redeemed at checkout. Families can play five games total over the promotional period.

As these examples show, the types of retailers and e-commerce purveyors that are entering the gaming space vary widely. Each has its own core customer base, pricing tier, and category specialty, as well as its own objectives and configurations for its foray into gaming.

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