Varchasvi
Varchasvi is an analyst for US Foodservice and Mintel Menu Insights. Prior to joining Mintel, she completed her MBA from the University of Notre Dame with concentrations in Marketing and Strategy.

Mintel segments gamers based on their top reasons for playing games. Foodservice operators can explore four gamer audiences – Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Competitors – and target the segment whose motivations make them most receptive to engaging with foodservice brands. Gamers represent a core consumer audience for restaurants to engage with and create loyalty.

Connect with gamers through these three avenues

1. Advergaming: Operators can create playable or microgames for gamers to play while enjoying full control over their brand presence within the playable.
2. In-game content: Creating unique weapons, skins or other experiential content within existing games enhances gamers’ experiences while also promoting and raising awareness of foodservice brands.
3. Advertising on gaming social media: Operators can partner with gaming influencers or game developer brands to reach a specific gaming segment.

Advergaming

Foodservice operators can create microgames that can be made available online for free and compatible with various devices such as smartphones and computers.

Advergaming can engage and involve consumers in a way that ad campaigns cannot. Since this method lends foodservice operators full control over the game and how their brand is featured in it. They can use this opportunity to raise awareness about their brand, invite consumer engagement by asking players to share their experiences or scores online, and reward players by offering food-related benefits.

49% of US gamers would like to see more brands create and advertise unique gaming experiences.

Chipotle created a virtual restaurant on Roblox where gamers could visit the restaurant in-game, talk to a cashier and receive a code for a free burrito.

Source: Chipotle News Release

“Advergaming affords brands an opportunity to create something more memorable than any single campaign for a product. When partnered with an interconnected mobile app or website, it can amplify customer engagement, streamline their access to other brand functions and shorten the customer journey.” – Brian Benway, Gaming and Entertainment Analyst

Exclusive in-game content

Another way to reach the gamer audience is by sponsoring exclusive in-game content.

Operators can sponsor cosmetic or utility-based items such as restaurant-branded apparel or skins for game avatars or exclusive weapons that enhance gameplay. As long as the sponsored content adds value to the gaming experience, operators can monetize in-game offerings and reward those who purchase them with food-related redemptions (eg discount codes made available with the purchase of an exclusive skin). Almost a quarter of gamers say they would make a purchase from a specific fast food chain or retailer in exchange for in-game exclusive items or abilities.

Many foodservice brands are already launching apparel and housewares, among other products, in real life. Creating virtual versions of these offerings will further raise awareness among gamers, almost half of whom like it when brands sponsor items within games.

Advertising in gaming: influencer marketing

Operators can partner with gaming influencers or game developer brands to reach a specific gaming segment.

Foodservice operators can tap into gaming influencers through live streaming platforms like Twitch and Patreon. Live chat features during streams offer them an opportunity to engage with potential customers in real-time.

For Friendsgiving in 2021, McDonald’s partnered with FaZe Clan, a lifestyle and media platform rooted in gaming, to promote its Crispy Chicken Sandwiches as the ideal meal for gaming together. Members of the FaZE Clan streamed their gaming session live on Twitch, and McDonald’s interacted with viewers in chat, giving away exclusive gifts.

Source: McDonald’s News Release

Socializers are the ideal target gamer segment for foodservice brands

Foodservice operators that partner with new co-op game releases (games meant to be played with multiple people) can position their offering as the perfect meal to enjoy while gaming together. Fast food restaurants that provide conveniently, consistent meals will do particularly well to serve this segment. Operators can collaborate with group gaming streamers or market their meals more specifically toward parents gaming with their kids, highlighting the convenience and opportunity for human connection and shared memories through home-delivered meals.

Operators marketing themselves through gaming streamers can encourage them to incorporate restaurant values or history into their in-game characters as they stream, thus raising brand awareness and establishing more personal connections with viewers and customers.

What we think

By tapping into the gamer audience, foodservice operators can amplify customer engagement and create loyal communities. Advertising on gaming social media, advergaming and creating exclusive in-game content are excellent ways for restaurants to offer immersive virtual experiences and explore unique ways to connect with consumers online.