Animal Crossing: A Parallel Reality During COVID-19

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the game of 2020, with research and media agencies connecting the game’s rise in popularity to offering escapism, comfort, productivity and, most importantly, community during a time of uncertainty.

The game’s popularity has influenced industries and culture across Fashion, Commerce, Activism and Entertainment. Fashion designers have been forced to contend with waste and sustainability more urgently during the pandemic, with clothing sales experiencing huge decreases this year. Designers have showcased new designs via virtual fashion shows within the game, recognizing the reach they were able to achieve by tapping into a younger audience and even fashion influencers who are active players like Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss.

Fans have developed virtual marketplaces for players to sell and trade virtual goods, with the most popular site being Nookazon, a play on Amazon. Players have also brought new relevance to popular songs and music videos, recreating hits like Lady Gaga’s “Band Romance” within the game, garnering 18K views on YouTube.

Animal Crossing has also become a means for sharing and expressing political views, with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using the game to visit her supporters’ islands for some one-on-one engagement. In addition, players from Hong Kong to the U.S. have organized protest efforts on their in-game islands advocating for freedom in Hong Kong and showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.

With all the popularity around the game and collaborations across businesses, brands and influencers in many key industries, there is a wide opportunity for retailers to engage. A couple of areas retailers can tap into is the consideration of the role virtual goods play in-store. Gaming is also a way to deepen relationships with our shoppers and provide opportunities for one-on-one connections that wouldn’t be feasible in real life. Lastly, gaming allows retailers to tap into wider and different audiences beyond the traditional personas. 

Submitted by: Julienne Lin, Associate Director of Research & Strategy, Integer Los Angeles; and Vanessa Daly, Cultural Strategist, Integer Dallas

Image Source: Unsplash