Game Changers: Bridging the Gap Between Marketers and Gamers

By Jonathan Smetherham, Research Director at 2CV

Gaming has evolved into a massive global phenomenon, captivating over 3 billion gamers worldwide – nearly half of the global population. This highlights the immense potential of the gaming industry. While traditionally the domain of gaming brands, in recent years, marketers from non-gaming industries have increasingly set their sights on this vast and engaged audience.

Demystifying Gaming for Senior Marketers in Asia

In 2021, 2CV published “Gaming Demystified,” a report driven by insights from senior marketers in Asia. It explored gaming and esports opportunities for brands and noted the surging interest in gaming marketing, rising from 59% in 2019 to 86% in 2021.

Yet while brands have recognized gaming’s potential as an innovative and impactful channel to engage with tech-savvy, younger audiences, a knowledge gap persists. Many senior marketers lack strong knowledge about how to effectively market to gamers due to challenges like the absence of industry-specific data, measuring gaming advertising’s impact, and concerns about brand risks in gaming sponsorships. They needed insights into the preferences, expectations, and behaviours of gamers.

Introducing: Game Changers

To address this need, 2CV developed an innovative approach called “Game Changers” which gauges brand performance directly from gamers’ viewpoints and provides a comprehensive understanding of the gaming market.

2CV’s Gamer Changers study collected data from 3,000 gamers across six markets in collaboration with PureSpectrum. It offers insights into gamers’ perceptions and experiences, examining 52 leading brands from five key sectors: quick service restaurants, financial services, fashion and beauty, food and drink, and entertainment.

The research focused on three fundamental metrics to assess brand performance within the gaming industry:

  1. Fame: How recognizable is your brand among gamers?
  2. Fit: How well does your brand align with gamers’ needs and interests?
  3. Fidelity: How effectively does your game-related marketing leave a lasting impact on gamers?

These metrics were used to position brands on a unique grid, providing a visual representation of brand performance within the gaming space.

The ideal position on this grid is the top right corner, signifying a recognized leader, well-known, and esteemed. Brands positioned in the bottom right corner of the grid have a strong fit with gamers but still have an opportunity for further amplification.

Brands placed on the left side of the grid indicate a weaker fit with gamers. Out of synch brands might face a disconnect between the brand and gamers’ expectations, with gamers knowing about the brand but not seeing a strong alignment with their interests. Finally, brands located in the bottom left corner of the grid suggest a brand that is unfocused, struggling to establish a presence, and failing to resonate with gamers.

Key Takeaways

1. Financial Services

While financial services may not seem like a natural category for gamers, brands like Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal have attained Recognized Leader status thanks to factors such as first-mover advantage, integration into gaming platforms, in-game purchases, and sponsorship of esports. Visa, for instance, has strategically aimed at building affinity with millennials through gaming, making it a central part of their marketing efforts. They’ve engaged in creating innovative initiatives like gaming gift cards and sponsorships to connect with this demographic.

2. Food and Drink

Brands like Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Doritos are highly aligned with gamers. These brands have successfully created a strong fit within the gaming community. Surprisingly, alcohol and ice cream brands have not been able to make a strong impact within the gaming context, despite being a seemingly good fit.

3. Quick Service Restaurants

Quick service restaurants tend to cluster towards the average in terms of fit with gamers. However, there is room for improvement in enhancing their fit and resonance with the gaming audience. Brands like Burger King have made significant efforts in this regard, including sponsorships and gaming-related activations.

4. Entertainment

In the entertainment category, sports brands like NBA, Premier League, NFL, and Formula One exhibit a strong fit with gamers but lack the same level of fame and recognition as streaming platforms like Disney, Amazon, Spotify, Netflix. Streaming platforms are diversifying towards gaming and creating their games.

5. Fashion and Beauty

In the fashion and beauty category, most brands underperform in terms of fit with gamers. Notable exceptions include Adidas and Nike, which have effectively connected with the gaming audience. Brands like Vans have been successful in creating a strong fit with gamers and leveraging gaming partnerships, NFTs, and the Metaverse. The performance of brands in the fashion and beauty category varies by market, with some brands performing better in specific regions. However, the overall trend indicates that many brands in this category underperform with gamers. Many brands in the fashion and beauty category have opted for superficial engagement with gamers, focusing on high-level merchandise collaborations and cosmetic items for in-game characters. This approach may not effectively resonate with gamers.

Conclusion

Gaming offers tremendous opportunities for brands, but marketing to gamers effectively requires a profound understanding of the gaming environment and the perspectives of gamers themselves.

Brands targeting gamers should invest in learning the gaming culture, understanding the diverse gaming audience, and comprehending the industry structure. They should also explore the Game Changers data to assess competitor performance and assess their own position. Finally, brands should respect the gaming culture, be authentic, draw inspiration from it, and provide value and entertainment to gamers.

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