A big challenge for a company that’s been around as long as Louis Vuitton—founded by its namesake in Paris in 1854 and today the biggest brand in luxury group LVMH—is that it needs to keep introducing itself to new generations. If it wants to stick around another 150 years, it needs to build relationships with the young shoppers who will grow into future customers, and not just focus on its current clients.
One solution is to meet them where they live, which for a lot of young consumers today means in video games.
To celebrate the 200th birthday of Louis Vuitton, born in the small hamlet of Anchay in eastern France on Aug. 4, 1821, the company has released “Louis The Game,” a video game for iOS and Android. You play as Vivienne, a mascot the company created from its recognizable monogram, and traverse a whimsical landscape on the way to a birthday celebration, all the while collecting items such as candles that unlock postcards.
These postcards reveal anecdotes and information including the details of young Louis’s initial journey to Paris on foot at age 14, Vuitton family history, trivia about the company’s innovations, and highlights from its modern runway shows and collaborations. Playing the game, it quickly becomes clear that it’s communicating a message about Louis Vuitton’s heritage, craftsmanship, and creativity to an audience that might not be too familiar with the company, or might otherwise not be listening.
And of course a game isn’t fun without rewards. Louis Vuitton noted in a press release that players can collect 30 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are blockchain-backed digital assets, including 10 by Beeple, the artist whose digital collage sold as an NFT at a Christie’s auction this year for $69.3 million.
How luxury is marketing through the metaverse
The popularity of video games has made them a prime medium for luxury companies looking to connect with young shoppers. Last year, the video game industry’s revenue reached an estimated $180 billion, making games bigger than movies.
Typically companies have marketed through games by releasing in-game products or skins, which change the appearance of an environment or character. Louis Vuitton, for example, has previously made skins for the game League of Legends. Valentino and Marc Jacobs have released looks for Animal Crossing.
Others have gone a step further. Gucci created an immersive experience for Roblox this year, and last year Balenciaga released a game it created to showcase its new fall collection. Called Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, it allowed players to wander through a dystopian landscape and see looks from the collection. Louis Vuitton’s game is more cartoonish and dynamic. You can run, jump, and climb through the world it has built while accessing different levels. In those regards, it’s more like a traditional video game.
What these virtual environments have in common, though, is they’re part of what’s become known as the metaverse, a term for the expanding realm of digital worlds where humans are spending more or their time, and their money. It has attracted interest from all sorts of companies, including Facebook.
Louis Vuitton looks to be positioning itself for the future. Recently it expanded its relationship with the designer Virgil Abloh, who is especially popular with younger audiences, to allow him creative input across its portfolio of brands. Now it’s expanding its presence in the metaverse too.