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An extension of identity: why gaming is important for e-commerce

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: The Sims 4 x Stefan Cooke

Crossovers between the fashion and gaming worlds have been inescapable this year, with many brands turning to the digital sphere for collection launches, collaborations and general marketing activations. As it becomes increasingly evident that this is a sector that cannot be overlooked, the tech company Wunderman Thompson has released a report that reinforces the importance of gaming in the new e-commerce ecosystem.

The study by the firm, interviewing 2,024 UK-based gamers, aimed to uncover the opinions of in-game purchasing. The trend has seen a steep climb over recent years, as consumers look towards a greater variety of channels available to them, in the comfort of their own homes. Brands also now have the opportunity to benefit from the new sales channels, in the form of virtual worlds that can be leveraged as retail opportunities.

In Wunderman Thompson’s Gaming Commerce report, the findings show the increased blurring between reality and virtuality, as gamers express an increasing interest in clothing for their avatars and in-game shopping. A total of 41 percent of respondents said they considered their avatar to be a part of their identity, with a significant 61 percent stating that it is just as important for them to look good in-game as in real life.

Image: Pandora x Animal Crossing

The consumer as a digital entity

On average, gamers reported spending around 70 pounds a year, out of the 51 percent that said they bought in-game items. A further 49 percent reported the desire to have their favourite brands be present in the games they play, so they could purchase their clothes.

The crossing between digital and offline was evident in a response from over half of the gamers, who expressed that they would buy the real-world versions of products in games, while 56 percent said they were more likely to buy from a brand that was featured in their favourite game.

Influencers also play a role in the gaming industry, with streamers and YouTube gamers having a significant influence on their viewers, who are often younger players. Out of the respondents, 33 percent said they had bought something their favourite streamer recommended or used. The same number also reported that gaming was the reason for finding new brands, marking the digital sphere as a possible platform for expanding names and labels.

Ultimately, out of all digital products available in-game, the report concluded that fashion remained at the top, as the most likely to be bought, surpassing technology, music, toys and beauty. In its conclusion, Wunderson Thompson relays the importance of considering the blurring of physical and digital in brand operations, noting that the consumer can also be perceived as a digital entity. It further highlighted the desire for both in-game and in-person products, as gamers valued the importance of both their offline and online identity - something which is slowly becoming one.

Digital Fashion