The fashion industry has long been aware of this: Gamification is the hype marketing tool for brands that want to reach young target groups in an exciting way. In games like Nintendo's Animal Crossing, an experiential brand world is built up, which then triggers hype in real life. If you want to retain young customers and play a role in the minds of GenZ, you can become a well-loved brand with your own Animal Crossing island, for example. Especially now, at a time when digitization is advancing and the online world is merging with the offline world, gamification is an exciting development that companies should have on their radar. Today, we explain what it means in practice.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of Nintendo's most popular games. In 2020, the game broke several records and has been the best-selling game for the Nintendo Switch since its release. In total, it has sold seven million copies in Europe, including more than one million in Germany. The online-based video game invites its users to book the island package. With it, they fly to a desert island and meet characters like the raccoon Tom Nook, his nephews Nepp and Schlepp, and many others. The aim is to create their own individual oasis. This virtual time-out made it possible for some gamers to escape from the real world over the past two years.
The high demand and many features of the latest version of Nintendo's classic Animal Crossing led to special attention in the marketing departments of many companies. The online world and the growing need for virtual customer contact caused some brands to take advantage of the hype to reach a whole new target group.
Kaufland: Pioneer of game marketing in food retailing
Newcomer to game marketing and a pioneer in German food retailing is the company Kaufland. Together with the German Twitch streamer Minimoli, Kaufland created a so-called Dream Island named "Kaufisland". With the Dream Code DA-3829-9221-8851, players from all over the world have the opportunity to visit the sustainable Kaufland Island with their avatar. Among other things, they will meet the main character "Phil Leita," whose name is an allusion to the German word "Filialleiter" (meaning "store manager").
The design of Kaufland Island is particularly exciting. Under the motto of the sustainability strategy "Making makes the difference," the topic of environmental protection can be experienced in a playful way on the red-and-white island. For example, the island shows what happens to returned deposit bottles, offers parking spaces for bicycles and e-scooters, and even has its own solar panels and wind turbines. Since Kaufland is a food retailer, the virtual world also focuses on food. "Phil Leiter" invites his visitors to grow fruit, sell food and do open-air cooking. Kaufland isn’t the only company to explore the diverse possibilities of the Nintendo cult game. As early as 2021, the fashion chain H&M recognized the potential and invited players to their own island. As with Kaufland, the "H&M Loop Island" also contributes to education in the field of sustainability. With the Dream Code DA-3314-6895-7902, visitors to the H&M island are informed about the company's own clothing recycling system Loop.
New products as Animal Crossing experience worlds
But that's not all, the Swedish fast-fashion company used the platform not only to create its own island, but also to present an "all-vegan" collection in a virtual fashion show. H&M developed their own designs and transferred them to in-game clothing for avatars. Celebrity avatars (in the form of influencers and gamers) were then paraded down a runway. If you’re curious as to what this looked like, just take a peek here.
Alongside H&M, the Benetton Group has discovered Animal Crossing as a marketing platform for itself. Together with dentsu gaming and Italian Twitch streamer Azalona, the fashion label opened "Benetton Island" (Dream Code: DA-7006-9979-4281), which also features a specially designed collection. Global brand Gucci also created a Dream Island to translate its latest fragrance, "Gucci Guilty," into an experiential and visual language in 2021. With the Dream Code DA-9521-6770-1214, you can dive into a world of scent and meet the avatar of Gucci's longtime testimonial Jared Leto.
It's not just fashion groups and retailers that have recognized the benefits of Animal Crossing. The world's largest streaming provider Netflix has already used the platform for advertising purposes in October 2020 and is once again one of the pioneers. Netflix created an island inspired by its own production, "Enola Holmes," which allowed users to experience 19th century England and the young detective's movie setting. Unfortunately, access via the Dream Code is no longer possible.
If you have a Nintendo Switch and the game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" at hand, you should put your avatar to sleep now and follow the dream addresses. Enjoy the experience!