The Future is Here: The Evolution of Digital Ecosystems

My recent Clubhouse conversations with fashion, gaming, AI and tech leaders like Pierre Denis (Advisor to Coty Board, former CEO Jimmy Choo), Tony Pinville (CEO Heuritech), Lucy Yeomans (Founder/CEO DREST), Matthew Drinkwater (Head of Innovation, London College of Fashion) as well as some Clubhouse influencers Alisa Jacobs (Co-Founder, Queens Gaming Collective), WolfxLion (Jin Yu), Enara Nazarova (Founder, ARMOAR), Anton Alexander (AI Engineer) and De Kai (Google AI Ethics Council), got me thinking... The pandemic has forced brands to figure out new ways of connecting with customers – especially in digital environments.


This has forced tech like videoCommerce, gaming and AI to the forefront of customer engagement.


But who’s doing it best? And HOW are these digital ecosystems evolving?



Image by Barbara Zandoval on Unsplash

1.The Gaming & Virtual Fashion Revolution


Fashion tech and digitalisation have always been hot topics for us here at HVO Search.


Gaming has been around for a long time but only during lockdown did luxury fashion brands really start to fully leverage the medium - finding new ways of showcasing their collections and engaging with a broader audience.


  • Balenciaga launched their Autumn/Winter 2021 collection through an interactive online video game called ‘Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow’.

  • Burberry created three own online games the latest being B Surf last year. They were also the first to Stream their Spring 2021 collection on a Twitch catwalk.

  • Marc Jacobs and Valentino are creating digital clothing for avatars for games such as Animal Crossing.


The outdated stereotype of pale, young men, gaming in dark bedrooms has thankfully been replaced with the reality – in fact 60% of mobile gamers are now women (and 80% of shopping decisions are made by women).


With the global gaming market valued at $167.9 billion in 2020 (and by 2026 expected to reach $295.63 billion) brands are likely to continue to innovate in this space.


“It seems like we’ve been talking about fashion and gaming for a long time. It’s cool to see more experiences popping up but it's really clear that we’ve still barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Fashion will need to much better understand gamers and the worlds that they inhabit, but when they do, the potential is huge.”

Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Innovation at London College of Fashion, told me on Clubhouse.



2. AI: Beyond Consumer Trends


Covid has created far more room for AI, and has rapidly accelerated investment in new tools and tech.


Brands need to be able to make critical decisions quickly, which requires access to data on existing and predicted consumer behaviour. AI is therefore a crucial part of the retail recovery and continued growth of eCommerce.


  • Companies like Heuritech are thriving, offering data-driven fashion trend forecasting, using advanced AI to translate pictures shared on social media into meaningful consumer data

“Luxury fashion brands need to better understand product trends by analysing social media images and use this knowledge to enhance their decision-making”

Heuritech CEO, Tony Pinville told me.

  • LVMH has reported that its future priorities are expected to include accelerating its brands’ migration to share technology platforms, leveraging data and artificial intelligence and the fast-moving ecosystem in China.

  • Meanwhile Kering are expected to use AI and other new tech to measure circularity, underlining their strategic focus on longevity, resource efficiency and sustainability.

But AI is not just about using data to better understanding consumer behaviour.


In the long run, AI tools are expected to be able to help brands identify customers likely to make a purchase, finesse the value chain, better align demand and supply, and forecast required cash-flow.


However, as ARMOAR Founder, Enara Nazarova explained:


"Transitioning from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 is not a one size fits all solution. Companies have to embrace imperfect action, experimentation, and a tolerance for risk. Future-forward brand’s will be expected to wield positive influence by nurturing and rallying their audience over shared values, not just exercising power through targeted messaging."

3.Making Advertising Transactable


The popularity of platforms like YouTube means video advertising is long established.


However, until recently these ads have focused on advertising before, during and/or after a video streamed on the internet.


  • Now, videoCommerce disrupters like Playrcart, have taken things a step further, creating tech that allows for transactable ads with payments to your commerce or payment stack with no click through.

This new way of maximising conversion opportunities already has some big name backers and has secured some prized IP protection.


Playrcart Founder Glen Dormieux told The London Economic:

"In simple terms, our technology gives users the opportunity to purchase or donate whilst watching a video and from within the screen – meaning you can buy something before the ad even ends”.

Watch this space!


Conclusion


Fashion is no longer just about the products themselves. The focus on understanding how people spend their money, has shifted to how people spend their time – and capturing data on this.


As such, brands are looking to create new and increasingly impressive virtual experiences that lean more towards entertainment than sales.


Meanwhile, AI and videoCommerce advances means tech is now king. And is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.


CEOs and investors have woken up to the fact that the Covid recovery will be digital – and those left behind may pay the ultimate price.


What tech are you excited about?