A Look Into Esports-the Next big Marketing Trend?

By now, any savvy brand with a hand in social media marketing will know that it’s important to have one eye to the future. Fads come and go, and algorithms can change at a moment’s notice. While it’s important to keep up with current trends, it is equally vital that marketing teams scout for the next big one. In the case of Esports (multiplayer video games played competitively before spectators), the seemingly one-note phenom is in fact on track to exceed 1.4 billion in revenue by 2020. Esport players offer a unique opportunity for marketers. They have influence potential built into their networks, are more accessible than the traditional sports star, and often have huge online followings. Niche or not, the Esport arena may be the next big influencer space to invest in.

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Since the market is still new, some consumers and marketers alike may not be fully aware of it’s potential. Statistics and growth trajectory aside, Esports have major influencer marketing possibilities. As Taylor PR firm vice president Brianna Kauffman states in an article for Holmes Report: “Unlike traditional sports, esports do not get as much traction or strength of coverage in mass media, so consumers are going to influencers for updates and information, Brands see influencers as a way to connect with a cultural community and do it in a way that lends the brand credibility in a space where they otherwise wouldn’t have license to play.”

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Since Esport stars cultivate their following mostly through word of mouth and online engagement with fans, they offer a unique and authentic route into marketing for that audience. Popular gaming and streaming platforms such as Twitch can be difficult for marketers to impact, but with Esport influencers, the process is organic. Additionally, since the resource is still relatively untapped, brands can enlist influencers at a vastly reduced cost.

While Esports may at surface level seem like a highly specific corner of the web, it serves as a gateway to many sought after demographics. From males 18-35 who are engaging less in less with traditional marketing venues like television, to large hunks of Gen Z who choose to follow online personas over mainstream celebrities, Esport stars have a wide breadth of influence. In the case of big names like Coke or Adidas, brands that would normally focus marketing efforts on traditional sporting events are finding co-branding is a cost effective but impactful way to reach Esport fans.

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As Esports grow in popularity, the opportunities for cross-promotion, influencer collaboration, and in-game sponsorship will only increase. If the success stories and trend reports are to be believed, the time to start looking into Esport influencer marketing is now. As with any brand of influencer marketing, there are specifics to take into consideration. As Kauffman further states: “To reach casual fans or recruit new fans into the fold, the opportunity lives with people who are personalities – traditional sports athletes, team owners, pop icons who play -- versus the hardcore gamers.” As the space grows and evolves, so too will the market, and range of impact. So, if you think Esport influencer marketing would be a good fit for your brand or client, start the research process today.

TRENDSMartijn Zijerveld