Luxury brands are tapping into millennial nostalgia with retro gaming.
As they creep into their 30s, millennials are increasingly making “escapist purchases”—seeking out sentimental, childlike clothing and accessories in an attempt to recapture and prolong their youth. Given that millennial shoppers are expected to account for half of all luxury spending by 2025, according to recent research from Boston Consulting Group and Altagamma, this presents a significant opportunity for luxury brands. Brands are taking heed, appealing to millennial nostalgia in order to attract the generation’s growing luxury spend. The latest bid? Retro gaming.
In July 2019, Louis Vuitton released a 1980’s-style video game called Endless Runner, available to the public for free on the Louis Vuitton website. Harkening back to early style video games, Endless Runner channels a lo-fi aesthetic with blocky, pixelated graphics and 2-D animation, set against a 1980’s New York City backdrop.
And while the game was inspired by Virgil Abloh’s Men’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection—which was debuted on a set modeled after a New York City street in the ’80s and features the same vibrant colors and bold graphics found in Endless Runner—there are no product pushes or redirects to shop embedded into the game; it is first and foremost intended to entertain.
Earlier in July 2019, Gucci introduced a vintage-inspired gaming feature on its mobile app. Called Gucci Arcade, it currently includes two games: Gucci Bee and Gucci Ace. Gucci Bee is maze game reminiscent of Pac-Man, where players have to navigate a bee (a popular motif for the brand) through different levels while collecting tokens and unlocking special elements.
Gucci Ace is inspired by the brand’s iconic sneaker. The game takes players through the past, present and future of gaming, with styles that represent different eras in gaming, from the 8-bit arcade games of the ’70s and ’80s to the imagined future of gaming.
These releases follow Chanel’s popular beauty arcade experience. Called Coco Game Center, the traveling pop-up first opened in the spring of 2018 and included Chanel beauty themed original games like a recreation of the retro Pong game with Rouge Coco lipstick tubes in place of the original ping pong paddles. The popup also included crane machines where players could try to win products, and makeup stations fashioned like old arcade consoles.
“I definitely think Millennials are referencing their childhoods because they are getting older—it’s like a longing for the past,” Vita Haas, co-founder of the nostalgia-steeped popup Café Forgot, told WWD. “It definitely brings comfort and a sense of community when we can recognize objects we all had when we were growing up.”