What springs to mind when you hear the word… ‘Gamer’? If you see a solitary teenage boy in his bedroom or basement, then you may need to read on.
Accessible, socially inclusive, gender diverse and attracting all ages; gaming is mainstream.
The gaming industry has been steadily growing, but the recent lockdown has significantly propelled this growth, as consumers have looked for new ways of entertainment and escapism.
With over 2.7 billion gamers
worldwide, it’s safe to say, gaming is not ‘niche’. It’s permeating our everyday, through society and mass culture; and while it’s true gaming is now reaching a multi-generational audience – the real opportunity for brands lies with Millennials and Gen Z.
For Gen Z-ers gaming is much more than just a hobby, it’s an intrinsic part of their lives. As mobile natives, many think of them as being anti-social, but their social lives are digital – they’ve grown up with text, whatsapp, and social media – it’s only natural this has now extended to the gaming space.
“Video games have evolved from a niche to a social network for Gen Z, because the culture surrounding it functions as both a tool and a technology, mirroring the strategy employed by Facebook two decades prior
That’s why platforms like Twitch aren’t just considered live streaming spaces, and it’s why live streamers themselves are the new Hollywood movie stars with a cult like status. Just look at FaZe Clan – what originally started as a group of friends with a passion for gaming has now grown into a multi-million-dollar franchise and a leader in the gaming and entertainment space.
Last year fans of FaZe Clan watched over 2 Billion hours of their Twitch streams! They’ve launched apparel collaborations with Kappa, Champion, Manchester City, and the NFL to name a few. They have an ongoing partnership with energy drink G-FUEL, and more recently an investment into meal replacement company CTRL – which has led people to speculate this might be their first move into the health and wellness space within the gaming industry.
With the cultural and economic impact of video games only set to rise, and no more so than here in the Middle East
where the population is young; it’s time we acknowledge that gaming is a key pillar that brands need to utilise in order to engage with the world’s next generation of consumers who are rejecting mainstream media consumption.
It’s not just sectors that you would traditionally associate with gaming culture, that want in, there’s been an influx of luxury and beauty brands keen to take advantage of the untapped potential.
It’s no secret that Gen Z are tipped to be a key driving force in luxury goods spending, their influence is powerful and brands need to engage in order to secure them as long-term loyal customers.
“By 2025 Millenials and Gen Z-ers are predicted to make up 50% of the luxury goods market, with 130% of the luxury market growth in the next seven years attributed to their spending.
Louis Vuitton seems to be the leader in this space, already boasting gaming collabs dating back to 2015 when they featured a character from Final Fantasy as part of their SS16 campaign. Since then they’ve launched a collection
with Riot Games for League of Legends, and more recently their own retro video game ‘Endless Runner’ for Virgil Abloh’s AW collection.
During lock down we’ve seen both Marc Jacobs
and Valentino launch capsule collections within Animal Crossing, and LVMH have entered into a partnership
with e-sports organisation Gen-G for a video series with Benefit Cosmetics, highlighting female esport players and streamers.
As marketers and brand owners we know in order to greater drive connections with consumers our interactions should be emotive, and that’s why entering the gaming dialogue offers a unique opportunity to tap into changing social behaviours. Energy drink Power Horse was able to do this by creating the first ‘Gaming Energy Drink’ formulated for gamers of all ages, tapping into gamers need for that adrenaline rush, to excel and beat competitors through their online challenges.
There’s also a number of luxury brands looking specifically at gamification and utilising play
to build advocacy, and ultimately lead to sales. Further evidence that brands are looking to create online consumer experiences with an aim of driving deeper engagement.
At the start of the year Burberry launched a second game; Ratberry
specifically looking to target the Chinese consumer. Gucci
has a few games under their belt, and Kenzo’s Shopping League was one of the original luxury branded games to tap into consumers competitive edge. Competing against others to buy one of 100 exclusive pairs of sneakers, defeating your opponent before being rewarded with your purchase turned the experience into an adrenaline filled, fast paced thrill even for those who were on the losing side.
Without going too much into the psychology of humans, there’s a reason gaming behaviour now permeates our everyday existence – from rating Uber drivers, to counting our daily steps – the semiotics, game mechanics and compulsion loops are being utilised to tap into the way gaming makes us feel, the adrenaline, the gamers ‘high’, the dopamine hit when you succeed – all encouraging emotion that drives connection with brands.
And whilst attention will once again be divided as we start to see live sport and entertainment starting to return, there is undoubtably continued long-term audience growth across platforms, with new fans who continue to embrace gaming as part of their daily discourse.
We do well to remember that the audience
and communities that form around game titles are just as varied as the audiences and communities formed around all other types of entertainment, and as more people continue to flock to gaming platforms, the opportunities for brands to reach these online audiences will continue to rise.