- Clothing retailer Tillys launched its first video game competition focused on teens about a month after announcing a partnership with the High School Esports League (HSEL). Students from 1,200 high schools in North America have a chance to win prizes by competing in an augmented reality (AR) mobile game at its 229 retail stores, according to an announcement shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer.
- The retailer announced the competition by distributing gift bags to high school esports teams. The care packages included products sold in Tillys stores, gaming hardware donated by HyperX and a poster to hang on the wall of an esports lab. Scanning a code on the poster with the Tillys app activated a practice version of a zombie-themed AR mobile game.
- The competition kicked off on April 20, when students who visited a store could use their smartphones to scan a different AR-enabled code with the Tillys app to play the official version of the game. Students could play solo or as a member of their esports team. The school team with the most points after two weeks will be awarded a new esports lab.
Tillys for the past several years has collaborated with AR developer Zappar on mobile-based campaigns that aim to boost brand awareness, increase app downloads and drive store traffic and sales. As brands push deeper into esports marketing, the retailer aims to reach the thousands of kids who belong to the league's esports teams and the fans who support them. Because players must visit a Tillys store to play the AR game, the retailer is attempting to spur additional foot traffic that may lead students and their families to buy clothing for upcoming summer vacations.
Last month, Tillys announced its partnership with the HSEL during a conference call with analysts, saying that the retailer is well-positioned to capitalize on and support the surging esports market.
Zappar and Tillys have worked together since 2017 on "brick-and-mobile" campaigns, including an in-store scavenger hunt with YouTube influencer Shonduras. Players could use the retailer's app to collect virtual coins in stores and redeem for prizes and discounts.
Like many retailers, Tillys has seen a shift in sales to e-commerce platforms as consumers increasingly use mobile devices to shop. While the retailer's physical stores posted a 1.4% gain in comparable-store sales in 2018, its e-commerce revenue grew 22% from a year earlier, pointing to why its recent efforts are grounded in driving in-store visits through mobile technology.
In-store AR tech is forecast to see wider adoption as high-speed 5G service expands throughout the U.S. According to Gartner, 100 million consumers are estimated to participate in AR shopping by next year. Almost half (46%) of retailers plan to deploy AR or virtual reality (VR) technology in stores, the researcher said.