Gamification is a well-accepted essential of marketing to Chinese millennials, but this is no longer restricted to the online environment, as a visit to the gaming arcades in the nation’s malls will attest.

Arcade gaming has gone down a different route in China, Jing Daily reports. Here, it combines the fun of gaming with shopping, as claw machines offer consumers the thrill of “$4 for nothing or a Dior lipstick” and branded lucky-box machines tempt shoppers with free samples of random goods.

Over the last two years, this phenomenon has increasingly gamified the retail space, both on and offline.

Media site Jiemian reports that the country’s arcade-game retail sector underwent big growth in 2017 with the number of claw machines reaching two million, creating an $8.7bn market.

Since then, Jing Daily says, “Chinese millennials have made gamification of retail the norm, happy to buy Cartier jewellery from a WeChat mini-program game, $500 luxe facial creams from a pop-up discount while looking through video feeds on Little Red Book, and Dior makeup from the brand’s ‘See now, buy now’ live streaming”.

Several international brands have recognised the potential to leverage this love affair with both gaming and luxury shopping.

During Lunar New Year in 2018 and 2019 Lancôme put New Year themed lucky gift machines in shopping malls in major cities around the country. Consumers needed to scan a QR code, follow Lancôme’s official WeChat and then receive a code via SMS to receive a gift box containing a free sample.

And last year Chanel launched an arcade pop-up ‘Coco Game Center’, which toured Asia’s fashion capitals from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Singapore and Chengdu. Offering a range of arcade activities, such as racing games, it also allowed players to pick up the latest cosmetic products from a claw machine.

Meanwhile, Chinese luxury consumers were the core reason for the global personal luxury goods market surging to €260bn last year, according to management consultants Bain & Company.

The Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, Spring 2019 maps a changing global luxury market, with Chinese consumers continuing to dominate luxury spending, and increasingly buying from within China rather than just when they travel abroad.

The study highlighted China’s Generation Z as one of several factors shaping the future of luxury; others included access, ownership, sustainability and social responsibility, the impact of digital across the entire value chain, preference for luxury experiences over products, and consumer networks as a new measure of value.

Sourced from Jing Daily, Jiemian, Bain & Company; additional content by WARC staff