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Transforming the real life festival into shoppable virtual experience


Every other Wednesday, h/commerce provides in-depth analysis of the most impactful trends reshaping retail.


The emergence of the “quarantine culture” has exposed a large scope of virtual opportunities to explore by users, culture organization, local business, brands retailers. From bars, museum visits to virtual concerts, cultural and lifestyle activity has been strongly relocated into digital realm. The proof? The prominent popularity of Animal Crossing, Fortnite, or more retro gaming open worlds like Minecraft (which has seen the appearance of an exclusive virtual rave club located on a private server). Those virtual playgrounds are a strong premise of the further development of next-level places of socializing between users, influencers, retailers and brands. The latest example to know: entirely virtual and highly shoppable festival created by entertainment media icon: Complex Networks, which translated its ComplexCon festival into first of its kind virtual shoppable experience.

Step into ComplexLand


ComplexCon is a highly anticipated lifestyle festival that has been running since 2016 – bringing together pop culture, music, food, innovation, activism, education & more. This important cultural event that is notorious for its exclusive drops, a wide range of food experiences, live music, panels and many award-winning brand activations – has been fully translated into a new video-game version of itself called ComplexLand opened for five days beginning December 7 – featuring many innovative shoppable features.

Credits: ComplexLand

With in-person participating no longer an option, ComplexLand is a formula that encompasses similar elements as a real-life event. Through customizable avatars reflecting their personal styles, customers had the possibility to shop, wander across different stages of the event, participate in live-music shows, engage with other users via a chat or even visit gamified food trucks, order food virtually and then be delivered at home in real life.

ComplexLand, in addition to be a remarquable digital response to festivals being cancelled is also an interesting shoppable venue, as more than 60 brands in categories ranging from street style, high-fashion, sportswear, and digital commerce (like eBay) could sell their goods for five days with some of them in limited, exclusive editions. For example, if users engaged with Donatella Versace virtual character, they could discover where to find an exclusive sneaker co-created by Complex and Versace.

On the other hand, eBay has explored the in-game treasure hunting mechanics as it was giving away highly researched pairs of “Zebra” Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost V2s sneakers. To win a pair, the users had to find the eBay character in ComplexLand and then answer some trivia about the shoe to be able to win those unique kicks.

“It’s kind of become a one-stop shop for commerce and digital content, all wrapped under the Complex umbrella”, said Complex’s head of collaborations and experiential, Neil Wright. “[This year] really took [the festival] to another level and evolved it in a way that really delivers whether you’re a gamer or just into street culture—you get to customize the experience to what you’re looking to do.”

While ComplexLand’s programming and experiences are similar to real-life ComplexCon festival, the consumers’ interest in the festival was growing steadily since its creation. With the franchise growth and opening it in the virtual realm, the event can further expand internationally and become the pioneer in the creation of worldwide virtual immersive and shoppable events.

Why is it interesting?

When the entertaining content gets shoppable – commerce becomes a playful substance.

ComplexLand is first of its kind, interesting and ambitious project, that opens the possibility of more virtual venues in the service of immersive and meaningful brand experiences, moving away from videoconferencing platforms like Zoom into new kind of virtual playgrounds. Exploring new and playful formats, outside the usual commerce is a sign of a trend that we have covered many times, even before the pandemic outbreak. It is also a proof that commerce becomes more and more atomized through an unlimited number of digital supports, playful touchpoints and virtual entertaining channels. Immersive technology compiled with creativity allows the commerce to become a playful substance and eventually, become even more ubiquitous.

As the attention of consumers is forced to go further into online experiences, brands and retailers have no other option than further lurk into new shopping formats to engage. Despite the pandemic context, virtual venues and worlds give them a chance to create meaningful, playful and highly shoppable entertaining contents.

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Mikaela Barbosa

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