Millennials. For many, hearing this word brings a myriad of incomprehensible images to their minds. And quite understandably: they have become the most underestimated and sought-after demographic in the world today.
Also known as Generation Y or ‘Gen Y’, millennials – a collective which comprises individuals between 24 and 35 – have gained a popularity as a target brands have not been able to fully comprehend.
This has also become a reality for the esports world. With the largest majority of players and fans being part of this age group – roughly 60% –, companies are now wondering what is the best way to effectively make their messages come across and keep them loyal to their games and brands.
The growth of the esports market is steady and seemingly unstoppable – Forbes magazine reported that the industry is expecting to make almost a billion dollar in revenues in 2018. This marks an impressive 35% increase in only one year.
With encouraging figures like these, it seems like companies looking to remain relevant in this market need to adapt to the new way their “unstable” consumer demographics is behaving. It’ll take more than having a couple of ads and logos being displayed around.
And that’s not all. With the possibility of having esports as recognised, medal awarding competition in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the image of the scene seems to be getting stronger and audiences are becoming much more responsive to it – there is an unmistakable change happening in the landscape.
As the digital world has taken over competitions in all areas, many brands are now seeking new ways to have their messages impact their consumers in a deeper way. And there are specific areas they can target to make this happen.
One of them is studying the locations where the action is taking place: Asia has become the strongest market when it comes to esports competitions, with countries like China and South Korea taking the spotlight in terms of audience numbers. This is a clear indication of how the game has managed to create a captive group of people that increases yearly.
Added to this, a stark reality has hit the world of ‘real life’ sports: fewer viewers are tuning in each year (TNW), a situation that has prompted many companies and teams to pursue the digital realm as an opportunity to communicate effectively with millennials.
Organizations like the NBA, NHL, and teams like FC Barcelona have all created their own esports competitions. Some of the biggest teams have managed to pull lengthy investments from prominent figures in the ‘real life’ sports world, like Cloud9 receiving $25 million from investors like Alexis Ohanian and the WWE.
Another important factor that weighs in is the proximity audiences now have to their favorite stars. Social media has managed to create a legion of fans that have access to player’s lives, making them popular among the digitally-able. More and more teams invest in the wellbeing of their players so they can have better results, brands have an open space to collaborate with this process by supplying their products or services with the idea of consolidating their union to the industry on a more intimate level.
This has created a never-before-seen panorama: the majority of brands that are now investing in the esports scene are not originally known as usual sponsors – a crossroads between the real and the digital world has been established.
Broadcasting is also now a major element that companies are taking in consideration. Last year alone, League of Legends World Championship finals managed to draw as many as 70 million viewers.
Platforms like Twitch have exposed the excitement of tournaments to larger audiences around the world. Their presence has helped brands understand the importance of having their message closer to those who invest their time and money in seeing the competitions.
Spin-off products like esports-related TV programming have become a path for companies to finally understand millennial consumer interests.
While standard media can seem as a valuable investment for brands to reach their target, it looks like real success is hidden in digital presence, as mobile phones are now the first option all millennials choose for accessing any kind of information. “The Value of Video” report shows that the Asian market is much more likely than the global average to use their smartphone as the primary device for watching online video.
It is now time for brands to take notice of the revenues esports provides and grab hold of the opportunity to build long-term associations at a relatively low-entry cost with Millenials.