Sports & Entertainment

Should Your Brand Make an Investment in eSports?

Though the business of eSports is still in its fledgling years, it has become increasingly clear that it’s here to stay. How do we know this? According to research from Simmons, total revenue is expected to surpass the $1 billion threshold in 2019, with nearly 60% of that money coming from sponsorship and advertising.

In our piece on Five Trends to Watch in the World of eSports, we discussed the opportunity at hand for brands and marketers to tap into this growing industry and fanbase, but how do you know if an eSports partnership is right for your brand? Let’s take a look at the business of eSports and understand the mindset of fans to see whether it’s worth the investment.

How does it work?

Though the eSports ecosystem bears some similarities to that of traditional sports, there are key differences that are important to understand. While a sport like football has its own singular governing body with the NFL, eSports have a different power structure. Ultimately, everything begins with major game publishers, such as Riot Games or Activation Blizzard, who control rights to both the individual games and their respective leagues. These leagues then sell media rights to streaming platforms such as Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube. All in all, this creates a wide array of possibilities for your brand to find its niche in the eSports ecosystem.

What are the fans like?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that eSports fans are on the younger side, but just how young are they? A startling 84% of fans are under the age of 34, with more than a third of that subset being under the age of 18. The relative youth of this group speaks to eSports being much more than a passing fad, as it’s fair to assume that these fans will continue to advocate and pour money into eSports as they enter adulthood. Beyond age, it should be noted that 17% of fans are women and 23% of fans are Hispanic, indicating that eSports fans are more than just the typical gamer stereotype.

Outside of demographics, eSports fans are very entrepreneurial in nature, as they are 32% more likely to want to start their own business someday. As such, they are held in high regard by their peers, serving as advisors on topics ranging from new technology and cars to personal finances. Going further, even when their advice is unsolicited, they are 32% more likely to share their opinions on products or companies on social media. When added up, these traits point to a group whose recommendations and loyalty are extremely valuable.


How do you reach them?

While advertisements in video games or during online broadcasts can be effective, eSports fans are quite receptive to sponsors. In fact, 35% of fans agree that they are more willing to try a new brand if it sponsors a team they follow, while 31% of fans say that loyalty to their favorite team includes supporting their sponsors, no matter what (compared to 15% and 12%, respectively, from traditional sports fans). All of this points to an audience that is very open-minded to marketing, but brands must still consider the fit between their product and the specific eSports entity. For example, Gillette sponsored an International Masters Tournament to cater to older eSports fans. During the activation, Gillette offered free grooming to the players and afforded fans the opportunity to personalize their own razor handles.

What brands should align with eSports?

Beyond natural fits like electronics and technology brands, there are a number of other categories that could stand to benefit from marketing in eSports. Consider travel brands for a moment. Forty-six percent of eSports fans say they try to go somewhere different for each vacation they go on. This makes marketing at eSports tournaments an appealing opportunity for travel brands, as fans need to plan their transportation and housing for the trip. As previously established, this is also an entrepreneurial group, so cultivating brand loyalty could provide significant long-term return-on-investment.

Likewise, companies in financial services should try to get in front of this audience. eSports fans are 28% more likely than the average sports fan to find financial services advertising to be interesting, and 20% more likely to say they’ll pay any price for good financial advice. Since their peers often turn to them for financial guidance, eSports fans could provide a secondary marketing boost through word-of-mouth.

Is your brand looking to figure out its strategy in the booming business of eSports? Contact us today to learn how our suite of experiential-led services can help connect you with this influential, growing audience.

Source: Simmons Justifying Brand Investments in eSports 2018

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