Understanding luxury fashion and video game collaborations: Luxury skins in online games – Case League of Legends

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The luxury fashion market is facing a transformation as luxury fashion is being mass-produced and democratized, new brands are entering the market and younger consumers are more inclined towards affordable luxury. Thus, luxury fashion brands need to find novel and trendy ways to approach them. As these consumers are increasingly spending their time playing video games, this study examined how luxury fashion brands could approach and appeal to this segment of consumers by providing them with affordable luxury in the form of luxury skins in online video games. To do so, luxury fashion brands must understand how to provide value for this segment through luxury skins and how to make the experience feel luxurious for them within the limits that the virtual world allows. This study explored this novel phenomenon by focusing on younger online gamers’ views and opinions on luxury skins, with an aim to form a conceptual model that luxury fashion brands could utilize to approach and appeal to this segment and make them connect a feeling of luxury to luxury skins. Hence, the objective of this study was to gain a better understanding of the meanings that luxury skins evoke in online gamers and what makes them connect a feeling of luxury to luxury skins. The meanings that skins in general evoke in online gamers were also explored to better compare the differences in the meanings evoked by skins and luxury skins. The context used for this study was an online video game League of Legends. The data were collected by interviewing twelve League of Legends players from Generations Z and Y through semi-structured depth interviews. A qualitative analysis of the data was done by using the grounded theory method. Thus, the conceptual model was built through a continual interplay between collecting and analyzing the data. The findings show that luxury skins in general evoked a multitude of meanings in the players. The players indulged in them for different reasons, and they evoked positive feelings in the players, allowed them to show off their status and provided them with utility, variety, and hedonic multisensory experiences. Consequently, the players wished and expected luxury skins to stand out from the other skins by offering them creative and well-designed high-quality multisensory experiences that would respect the background of the champions they would be created for. Furthermore, as most of the players were fairly distanced from the concept of luxury fashion, the brand itself did not hold much value for them and most of them saw visible branding as a distracting element within the game. Hence, luxury fashion brands must approach this segment on the players’ terms instead of relying on their strong brands. Additionally, the players brought up certain elements that made them connect a feeling of luxury to luxury skins. However, as they did not provide much additional benefit to the players, luxury brands should not rely only on these elements, but use them as an additional way to differentiate the skins. Overall, this study offers a conceptual model for luxury fashion brands, which they can utilize to better approach and appeal to younger online gamers through luxury skins and make them feel more luxurious for the segment.
Thesis advisor
Tikkanen, Henrikki
Weijo, Henri
luxury skin, online video games, luxury brand collaboration, digital fashion, League of Legends, luxury marketing, grounded theory, luxury fashion
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