On Sunday Pokémon Go final went live in France. Already the rest of the western world has been over run by the augmented reality (AR) game and all its fanciful creatures. Who doesn’t want to get their hands on a Pikachu or Voltali?
So how can the fashion world get in on the AR action?
When user engagement is so high for an application like this one the industry would be foolish not to try and tap into the zeitgeist and turn it into a profit. In the United States alone the app has breached the benchmark of having more daily users than Twitter. And those users spend more time on the Pokémon Go app then they currently do on their Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat applications. As I write this the game has over 15 million players worldwide, but that number is probably already outdated.
For the uninitiated Pokémon Go is a game that consist of hunting down different virtual Pokémon animated characters by going to different real life locations and “catching” them. The free app uses the GPS on the player’s phone to determine the location of different Pokémon and it also designates certain central or significant locations as “Pokémon Gyms” or “ PokéStops” where Pokémon are known to gather.
“What makes it so interesting, especially for the fashion industry, is that it combines the virtual with the real, which basically sums up how we live today as we constantly gravitate between our “virtual” social media selves and our real selves,” explained Uche Pézard, the ceo of the Luxe Corp consulting group which advises luxury brands on how to navigate the digital space.
« Imagine a fashion designer sending guests their fashion show invitations on Pokémon Go and then asking them to walk 2 km in real life to be able to download it (and also claim a gift)! »
Already the company behind the app, Niantic, has made it possible for brands to purchase something called “lures” if their store happen to be close to one of the game’s “PokéStops”. When a label buys a lure (which costs 100 “PokéCoins” – the equivalent of about 1 €) it last for 30 minutes and it ostensibly attracts Pokémons to their location.
Consequently players of the game also show up, creating more foot traffic into the stores as they hunt out their Pokémon prey. Whether or not this actually turns into sales remains to be seen. But John Hanke, the chief executive of Niantic, has already suggested that the platform will soon be introducing “sponsored locations” which will be made available only to big businesses for purchase.
This is a pretty straightforward way for mass market brands to try and drum up sales. However some luxury houses might not be interested in having droves of teenagers and twenty-somethings wandering about their stores with their heads buried in their cell phones tracking Pokémons instead of looking over their merchandise. Especially if most of the players will probably not have the buying power to purchase 95% of the stock displayed on the shelves.
But what if the luxe labels could come up with more creative methods to integrate aspects of the game? Tactics that are able to elevate brand engagement and storytelling through events that, say, starts in the virtual game and finish in RL (real life). This is a concept that Pézard thinks could gain considerable traction and be highly successful.
“Imagine a fashion designer sending guests their fashion show invitations on Pokémon Go and then asking them to walk 2 km in real life to be able to download it (and also claim a gift)! That would be a great story, not to mention all of the calories that will be burnt in the process,” she said.
Photo : courtesy of PokexFashion.com
Along those same lines some Pokémon characters only come out at night. So why not create AR flash sales that use the philosophy of rarity, exclusivity, and time sensitive deadline to help generate impulse purchases?
Up until the arrival of Pokémon Go the use of AR has not connected with the public at large in a profound way (remember the epic fail of Goggle Glass?). Typically AR projects tend to disconnect or interrupt the player’s relationship to the physical plane. But this app has found a way for users to once again engage with the world around them, which naturally enhances the participant’s experience.
In terms of the luxury market it has been proven that modern day shoppers now crave experiences as appose to just possessing an object. They want to interact with brands. They need to feel a connection to a house, to invest in it emotional, before they are willing to lay down their cold hard cash for a designer product.
Making that connection could also be done in a more subliminal way. Now there is currently no proven connection between the luxury fashion website Farfetch and the Pokémon character called “Farfetch” but when millions of people are scouring the planet looking for an adorable duck-like Pokémon that bears the name of your company, that can only help with brand awareness. The Google searches alone could make getting a Pokémon named after a house, which looks like an animal associate with the label, well worth the investment.
So maybe one day in the near future a butterfly shaped Guccissima Pokémon or a camellia flower character called Coco will appear on the Pokémon Go app. Stranger things have happened.