As with many things in the digital world, the answer is in the data. Several companies, both large and small, have been the early adopters of esports into their marketing strategies but how important is it really?
These are few reasons why we think your company should seriously start thinking about how to market itself to this relatively new, yet blossoming industry.
According to Newzoo’s esports research the global esports audience will surpass 400 million by 2019 with 215 million of those being dedicated enthusiasts of this growing sport.
The Intel Extreme Masters, a series of global events, attracts well over 100,000 live attendees. In South Korea, the League of Legends Championship sold out the 40,000 seater national stadium.
Online, the same event in 2016 drew a staggering 36 million unique viewers to its live stream final showdown.
China, in particular, is seeing huge growth in this industry. The International 7 (the Dota 2 World Championship) saw an online audience of 27 million plus. This is without mentioning North America, which is also a booming market as well as Southeast Asia and several European countries.
With esports being a digital product, online consumption has no boundaries and this creates an abundance of opportunities for companies with the right marketing strategy to expand its reach into so many new markets.
Esports holds the key to capturing the attention of this key demographic. Already in the United States, 22% of men aged between 21 and 35 watch esports on a regular basis, from which many of them indulge in betting (read more on esportsbets24.com. This puts it on a par with baseball and above ice hockey.
Furthermore, the same age group (in the US) accounts for 53% of the total esports enthusiasts – those who watch an event at least once a month. This number is far higher than basketball (29%) and American Football (25%).
The research conducted by Newzoo also highlights a huge number of esport lovers who have no interest in traditional sports. Additionally, the millennial generation watches less television than previous generations.
For companies, the key is to position themselves within this industry using the correct strategy. The old-school, mass media, scatter-gun approach of advertising will not be as effective. Also, online advertising has to compete with untold amounts of newsfeed posts, tweets, notifications and numerous other distractions which are part and parcel of the Internet world. Brands that will thrive are those which understand the needs and desires of the millennials and align their marketing accordingly.
The community spirit within the esports scene is unparalleled and it should be used as part of a company’s marketing strategy looking to get involved in this industry.
Harnessing the shared values upon which such communities are built can reap huge rewards. Twitch, the online streaming service, which has been airing esport tournaments for several years, has fostered a very loyal community. Value, the owners of Dota 2, is also active in creating community-based initiatives – for example, the huge prize pool for the International 7 was funded from community support by making in-game purchases.
Companies which are able to engage with and enhance the online experience of community members will yield the best rewards. Perhaps becoming leaders and influencers in their own right.
Breaking the Billion Dollar Mark
Another obvious reason why esports will become imperative to a company’s marketing strategy is the simple one of money.
Newzoo research has forecast the esports industry will generate total revenues of $1.1 billion USD by 2019. For an industry still in its early years, this is a phenomenal amount of money and companies need to sit up and take notice.
Learning From Red Bull
Energy drink maker, Red Bull, has made a name for itself over the years as being a brand with vision and not scared to take a risk or two. It first entered the esports world back in 2006. 11 years later and esports is starting to boom the world over – that is the kind of long-term commitment and effort Red Bull have put in to position themselves firmly in the minds of esport fanatics.
Red Bull’s strategy is one of learning first – gaining an understanding of the industry and the communities which piece it together. Through this, its marketing can be more effective towards the millennial audience. The company has invested in hosting events, owning teams, developing training facilities, broadcasting and production among other things.
A Final Few Words…
The companies which will be successful in penetrating esports are those which fully involve themselves in the industry and become part of the community.
As Red Bull has shown, a long-term strategy is in order. Whilst, not many companies have the budget and resources like Red Bull, smart marketers will find a way to engage themselves at a grassroots level and build up from there.
What do you think? How is your firm using eSports in its marketing strategy?