Rosalia Di Gesu
Rosalia Di Gesu is a Senior Innovation Analyst. She focuses on delivering cross-category insight and commentary on innovative new product launches and trends.

As consumers spend more time at home, beauty brands are altering the way they reach consumers. Some are fully immersing themselves within the lucrative gaming world in an effort to drive engagement, maintain or build brand awareness, align with on-trend beauty themes and promote new products.

Below is a roundup of recent gaming-inspired innovations and concepts, with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons the ‘go-to’ game for a number of beauty brands in 2020.

Autumnal/wintery ‘nights-in’ and a COVID-19 ‘second wave’ will spur more gaming

Gaming is already big business – global sales are set to rise by 74% in 2020 (vs 2015) to reach $159 billion – and engagement especially spiked during the COVID-19 lockdowns of March 2020. In the UK, data from gaming analyst firm VGChartz found that there were almost 1.4 million console sales in the first half of 2020, rising from 811,068 in the first half of 2019; while 49% of online console gamers indicated playing more often (on a static games console) since the COVID-19 outbreak.

As darker nights draw in (in the Northern hemisphere) and fears of a COVID-19 ‘second wave’ are realised, we can expect people to spend more time indoors and on their gaming consoles/devices, being entertained and feeling part of a community. This in turn will boost the gaming industry’s sales even further. 

Be mindful that these gamers are no longer stereotypical young males; gaming’s popularity now extends to women, parents and older consumers. In the three months to May 2020, more than half of female gamers in the US indicated playing more during the COVID-19 pandemic than they typically did before it.

Beauty brands are getting in on this action and recognising that gaming is an important platform to virtually connect with consumers and boost sales in the real world.  

Beauty/gaming concepts can allow for the ‘safe’ virtual trial of ‘real-life’ products

While in-store hygiene concerns persist due to COVID-19, beauty brands can use gaming as a way to allow players to safely and hygienically trial and experiment with their products, using gaming avatars. This was a route taken by Givenchy when it debuted its iconic makeup products on Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Players are able to beautify their gaming avatars with virtual makeup designs inspired by Givenchy’s iconic ‘real-world’ products (e.g. Le Rouge Lipstick and Prisme Libre Loose). Gamers can also apply a 4G tattoo in a Givenchy logo design to their avatar – further boosting brand awareness.

Collaborating with Animal Crossing: New Horizons – a non-competitive, open-world game popular with younger demographics – also helps prestige players such as Givenchy build brand awareness and enter the psyche of younger generations.

Source: Instagram/@givenchy

Beauty/gaming concepts tap into self-care themes

Beauty brands that venture into the gaming world must be mindful of addiction concerns around excessive gaming. However, brands can also focus on the positive aspects of gaming too, and on-trend ‘wellness’ themes are appealing to the 65-85% of gamers in the US and China who play video/online games to relax. 

Indeed, self-care concepts in beauty/personal care markets are on the rise and in demand as stress and mental health issues, linked to the COVID-19 surge. 

Focusing on gaming’s relaxing merits is beauty brand, Tatcha. The brand is inviting Animal Crossing: New Horizons players on a virtual self-care break, while also promoting its new Rice Wash Cleanser. Amid a disrupted ‘real world’ holiday market, the Tatcha gaming concept (created with wellness brand Alo, and Nook Street Market) allows players to holiday virtually and visit ‘Tatchaland’ – Tatcha’s virtual island where players can relax and meditate in virtual spas, bamboo forests and more.

Source: Mintel GNPD; Instagram/@tatcha

Beauty/gaming concepts align with empowerment trends

While collaborating with the gaming industry, beauty brands are maintaining their focus on important trends around body positivity and inclusivity. A notable example is Gillette Venus’ Skinclusive Summer Line, promoted using inclusive in-game skin/body avatar designs in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

The downloadable designs (eight skin tones and 19 skin types) can be combined to create a total of over 250 avatar designs that celebrate skin and body realities such as freckles, acne, vitiligo and disabilities (eg the use of prosthetics).

Source: Gillette Venus

Let gaming inspire your pack design or shape

Beauty brands can also use simpler tactics to engage with gamers. For example, they can create a playful gaming-inspired pack design or shapes to grab consumer attention, both on-shelf and online. 

Recent innovations taking this route include Lovisia‘s collaboration with the Kirby video game in Japan; now including facial sheet masks, as well as makeup, designed around the game’s characters.

While K-Beauty player Kaja has packaged its undereye setting powder in a portable tub that is shaped to resemble a gaming joystick. The Joystick Brightening Undereye Setting Powder taps into playfulness trends and also promotes convenience and functionality. The built-in ‘joystick’ feature moves around to allow the brush to effectively collect the powder according to need, and with minimal mess.

Source: Nintendo Soup; Instagram/@kaja

Other industries turn to gaming too

Beauty brands aren’t the only ones that picked up on this trend. Fashion and music industries are also increasingly turning to gaming, recognising its importance in reaching virtually-savvy young consumers.

Recently, we have seen Christian Louboutin pair up with the Zepeto social gaming app to unveil its Spring 2021 collection during Paris Fashion Week. Using avatars, people can immerse themselves in a virtual Loubi World.

While Epic has announced a three-week in-game concert series that will take place on Fortnite‘s virtual Party Royale stage – with the artist Dominic Fike kicking off the series.

Source: Epic Games; WWD