Why Traditional Brands Are Using Gaming Platforms to Reach Non-Traditional Market Segments
2020 was an absolute rollercoaster ride. With COVID-19 ravaging the globe for nearly a full calendar year now, people all across the world have been trying to adapt to the new normal.
Back when government officials implemented the first serious measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus and announced nationwide lockdowns, most of us found ourselves stuck inside our homes with nothing to do but wait until the pandemic begins to subside. This resulted in increased smartphone usage, as people started spending more and more time scrolling their social media feeds, playing games, and interacting with their friends and family via online channels like Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
The Coronavirus has had a major impact on the world as a whole, and this also pertains to the gaming industry. The number of people playing online games saw a massive surge since the initial outbreak. But while some may have attributed this to a passing fad, it seems anything but; most mobile users who began playing after the initial outbreak are still playing to date. Gaming has experienced such a massive surge that the most popular online gaming platforms, namely Twitch, hit a record of 2.56 million users back in December.
In 2020, games increased their relative level of downloads, as they represented nearly 40% of the total Google Play & iOS downloads in 2020. Over the past year, nearly 45% of the overall Google Play downloads were games, up 40% from 2019. Additionally, a recent report indicates the global gaming market to be worth $162.32 billion and is predicted to cross the $295 billion mark by 2026.
While many industries continue to struggle and begin the long road to recovery from the economic fallout of the virus, the gaming market is flourishing. Brands like Lexus & Honda even started harnessing the power of online gaming platforms like Twitch and utilizing AR apps to reach the traditionally hard-to-reach demographics.
Recently, Lexus enlisted the entire Twitch community to create a customized version of its 2021 IS Sedan. The automaker collaborated with a popular Twitch streamer Fuslie, who hosted a two-hour live stream, which resulted in nearly 23,000 viewers using the poll feature to vote on the vehicle’s interior as well as exterior modifications, including monitors, drinks, car wrap, gaming consoles, and 3D printed controller.
The company plans to use these poll results for customizing a full-size car. Twitch streamers will also be hosting a second round of the live stream on February 17th, where the completed design will be revealed.
Honda launched its new 11th generation Honda Civic on Head2Head – its branded Twitch channel. As stated by the company’s Manager of Media Strategy Phil Hruska, “We want to ensure that we show up in an authentic manner and give back to our fans. We have worked hard to create contextually relevant spots. Also, we feature different eSports personalities and talent, which helps add value to our fans when they witness us using the actual IP as well as the athletes in our commercials.”
5 Reasons Why Traditional Brands are Using Gaming Platforms to Reach Non-Traditional Market Segments
With an ever-increasing number of brands using gaming platforms to launch or promote their products and services, let’s look at the five reasons why they have been heavily investing in the gaming industry to reach non-traditional market segments.
1. Gaming Is Here to Stay
If this past year has proven anything, it’s that 1) the world was not prepared for a global pandemic, and 2) people love playing video games, especially kids and millennials.
Mobile games account for more than 23% of the overall active applications in the iTunes app store. A Washington Post study reports nearly 73% of the 14-21 years old in the United States identify themselves as competitive gamers. There are more than 2.5 billion gamers all across the world, and with games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and PUBG at the forefront of the mobile gaming industry, we can safely say that the future of the gaming industry is very bright. Why such optimism? It’s a result of knowing that gaming is here to stay.
The above-mentioned stats simply provide an outline of how popular the gaming industry truly is.
Many companies have begun investing in the gaming industry to help their brand stand out to millennials and Gen-Z’ers, a large portion of the current gaming demographic.
Brands like Wendy’s, have helped to chart the course for the future of marketing with gaming platforms. their video game activations. The popular fast-food chain created a digital avatar for Fortnite that perfectly resembled its red-headed mascot, helping the company win the Social Influencer Grand Prix at Cannes Lions.
2. Brands Are Already Finding Success With Gaming
According to Meltwater data, Fortnite is one of the world’s most popular games among millennials and kids across the world, having gained more exposure than Game of Thrones & Avengers. This led to brands like Samsung and Nike promoting their products on gaming platforms like Twitch. Additionally,
Samsung collaborated with some of the world’s most popular influencers and gamers as they received real-life supply boxes containing Galaxy Note 9 smartphones with an exclusive Fortnite Skin. During his Twitch Livestream, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins unveiled the Galaxy skin in front of millions of his fans.
Outside of the United States, non-endemic brands have already found success utilizing gaming platforms and esports. But the way Americans consume branding and marketing is different in the US.
Naz Aletaha is the Head of League of Legends Partnerships at Riot Games, and he had some interesting perspective on this subject, stating “In the U.S., we’re not on linear. I think linear is interesting to date in the U.S. We haven’t seen that it has been necessary because our fans are so digital-first.” She elaborated further, saying “Digital platforms offer the engagement factor. You’re no longer just sitting at home on the couch by yourself with the remote control. You are engaging with like-minded people and that’s fun and exciting in a different way.”
For brands looking to connect with potential consumers, gaming platforms can be an attractive method to access demographics that are traditionally difficult to attain.
Mastercard is another strong example of this strategy implementation, having become the first LoL esports global partner after signing a deal to become the payment services partner for LoL Global Events.
“It took us over two years to explore and educate ourselves on the esports industry to determine the best path that would enable us to connect with this passionate community in an authentic way and early on, it became very evident that partnering with League of Legends was the biggest and best opportunity to do this,” said Emily Neenan, Vice President of Global Consumer Marketing & Sponsorships at Mastercard.
3. It Helps Brands Stand Out
Harnessing the gaming industry’s power helps brands stand out and levels up their marketing campaigns, which lures more of their audience in.
Rocket League collaborated with Hot Wheels while creating branded vehicles within the game.
While this was one of our favorite collaborations, we really loved it because it was a perfect example of non-intrusive, native branding and advertising. These types of adverts help brands reach out to a higher number of their potential customers and keep them engaged, which leads to more sales and higher profit margins.
Brands should naturally approach the gaming market, beginning with identifying the games and platforms that align with their brand and then collaborating with Twitch streamers who are masters of those games. These online creators captivate audiences within their niche and spurn the type of consumer engagement that many brands can only hope to achieve organically.
4. Games Are Lucrative Media Platforms
For brands looking to achieve success marketing their products on gaming platforms like Twitch, they need to consider games as more populated virtual spaces rather than creative executions. Simply put, gaming platforms should be considered virtual spaces that act as media outlets for branded content.
Think of them in the same vein as you think of the most popular social media applications, like Facebook, Instagram, etc. They are just the new kids on the block – an entirely new platform that is massively popular and has a userbase that is growing rapidly.
Much like you would with the other big players in the social space, you should view gaming platforms (and influencers) as opportunities for long-term growth and not simply a one-off advertising channel.
According to Activate, more than 270 million people considered themselves fans of eSports back in 2016. Fast forward to 2020, and the number balloons to 495 million. Gaming will soon be a multi-trillion dollar industry, and now’s the right time and opportunity for brands to begin leveraging this burgeoning market.
5. Brands Have The Opportunity To Be On The Forefront
On average, gamers spend 7 hours & 7 minutes each week playing their favorite games. This number represents just how big of an opportunity it is for brands to share captivating and engaging content with their audience.
Imagine putting your brand in front of gamers when they are fully immersed in playing their favorite games or watching their favorite streamer doing the same. On other social platforms, people are heavily distracted, watching videos and streaming music while browsing their IG or TikTok feed. Browsing most social platforms is an exercise of both habit and boredom. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to gaming. When it comes to playing games or watching gameplay, your audience won’t be split screening or scrolling through their social media feeds. Instead, they are highly focused enthusiasts who hang on every word and action of the creators they follow and adore.
Twitch users watch 95 minutes per day on average, and if that doesn’t spell engagement, we don’t know what does. Brands use Twitch and other gaming platforms to achieve numerous marketing objectives, such as increasing brand awareness, targeting specific audiences, producing branded streams, and leveraging influencer marketing.
People have always been crazy about games. From GTA San Andreas to GTA V to Fortnite to popular mobile games like PUBG, we sure have come a long way from the early days of gaming. And it’s only going to continue getting better.
You might be unsure about using gaming platforms in your next campaign, and rest assured, you’re not the only one. But as the growth of platforms like Twitch has shown us, multiple brands are using gaming platforms to promote their brand by catering to a young core audience. If your company has a similar goal in mind, platforms like Twitch may prove to be a noteworthy investment for your marketing efforts.. More and more brands are beginning to realize the potential benefits that lie in promoting their products and services on popular gaming platforms, so there’s never been a better time to get into the game for yourself.