Gaming has been making a gradual shift from subculture to popular culture for years. The notorious COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift exponentially, like we have seen with so many other digital industries over the last year. It is estimated that there will be over three billion gamers worldwide by 2023, nearly 40% of the world’s population.
A quick look at these numbers and there is no surprise as to why we see brands clamoring to sponsor teams, showcase at events and build large-scale promotions enveloped in the most popular gaming franchises. But like many facets of marketing, there is an extremely thin line we must tread for our message to be effective and reach the audience in the manner we would like it to.
Entire careers are devoted to communicating with specific audience segments, but we wanted to put together three quick tips that can help you get just a bit closer to understanding how to tap into the eclectic and evolving gamer culture.
#1 – Be Authentic
Marketers conduct an exhaustive amount of research to ascertain that we know what to say, where to say it and when to say it. However, gamers are notorious for rebelling against brands that they feel are slapping a popular face on a display to gain a bit of clout. Contrived hashtags, improper usage of terminology and many other faux pas could be difficult to recover from. So, ensure that any consumer-facing item is truly vetted through gamers before it is live. It is better to gut-check thoughtfully than end up as a thread on Reddit.
#2 – Carefully Consider Partnerships
Examine gaming partnerships just like you would any other brand relationship. Whether you are looking to leverage assets from a specific franchise or a gear company, the final decision can either make huge inroads into the gaming culture or deteriorate credibility. Don’t expect to reach hardcore gamers with an Animal Crossing partnership or casual mobile phone gamers with a promotion that will send someone to the League of Legends Championship Series. Cross reference the brand, with the shopper, with the partnership and you will have implemented a solid foundation to work from.
#3 – Offer Something Unique
Regardless of how many hours your audience spends playing video games, they are all looking for something they can’t get anywhere else, especially if they are the only one that can receive the prize. There are myriad ways to accomplish this feat. You can award in-game skins, extra XP (experience points) with each pack or if you want to go big, give them a branded gaming console, the chance to be the first one with a new title, or a VIP experience to a convention. Offering authentic prizing through a promotion is a sure-fire way to increase velocity and keep your brand top of mind for gamers.
The world of gaming is ever-expanding and a massive opportunity for brands to reach audiences and shoppers they never thought possible. As you start to dive into this world, take the time up front to be authentic to gamers, and carefully consider the brand, shopper and platform to lay a solid foundation for partnerships. When developing promotions, offer unique prizing that they can’t get anywhere else. You have unlocked the next level…now go beat the game.
Contributed By: Aaron Miller, Senior Planner, Insight & Strategy Denver
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