Should Brands Follow Net-A-Porter’s Animal Crossing Lead?

    The luxury fashion e-commerce company, Net-A-Porter, has become the first company to monetize the popular VR game Animal Crossing in China.
    Net-A-Porter leverages Animal Crossing to showcase Chinese designers' spring/summer collection. Photo: Courtesy of Net-A-Porter
    Ruonan ZhengAuthor
      Published   in Technology

    Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the new virtual game published by Nintendo, was dropped March 20 and has taken the world by storm since its release amid global COVID-19 lockdowns. While fans are busy dressing up their virtual avatars with fashionable items, the luxury fashion e-commerce company Net-A-Porter has become the first company to monetize this opportunity in China.

    Net-A-Porter worked with multiple Chinese fashion designers, including staffonly, Marchen, Calvin Luo, Short Sentence, and Shushutong to create avatar skins from their spring/summer collections. Users can not only purchase those virtual skins, but also real clothing via Tmall. Here is how it works: they can contact customer service, and type “NAP animal crossing” to receive virtual skins.

    Jing Take:#

    Animal Crossing has become a space where young people can escape from the current chaotic situation in the world. The setup of the game is very simple, almost like a fairy tale version of The Sims, where users can customize their world from the ground up. For the many, many people at home and practicing social distancing, Animal Crossing allows its users to build a virtual wardrobe with luxury pieces that are hard to acquire in real life, from brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Gucci. Luxury brands have ventured into virtual gaming before to acquire new consumers and expand their brands. Net-A-Porter’s participation could open up more brands to the possibility of selling virtually first, then offline. It’s also a great new advertising space to boost brand exposure. And maybe, just in case, users would like to dress the same with their avatar in real life. While the game has taken off globally, its fashion configurations are only beginning to pick up steam in China. Brands who act fast to tap into this new trend and target the Chinese millennial and Gen-Z audience will strike marketing gold.

    The Jing Take reports on a leading piece of news while presenting our editorial team’s analysis of its key implications for the luxury industry. In this recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debates that sprout up on Chinese social media.

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