eSports emerge out of the basement and into the mainstream

August 10, 2017
3 min read

Male grooming giant Gillette has recently announced its latest spokesmodels, leading eSports team EDward Gaming (EDG). Described as one of the top League of Legends teams, they have been added to a roster of spokesmodels that includes top teams from across the world of sports, such as the NFL’s New England Patriots, and iconic football team FC Barcelona. Gillette has also recently partnered with eSports company ESL to sponsor the IEM World Championship of eSports in Katowice, Poland, and has partnered with xPeke, a leading Spanish League of Legends star.

Exploring men’s alternative interests

This move kicks off part of a concerted effort by Gillette to attract a new group of consumers it may previously have struggled to engage; young men who do not follow ‘traditional’ sports, and are unmoved by the athletes that have fronted Gillette’s campaigns previously, such as Barcelona star Lionel Messi, England goalkeeper Joe Hart, or tennis legend Roger Federer.

Gillette’s move accurately reflects the diversity of men’s interests: as Mintel’s latest Marketing to Men research shows, sports are most likely to be regarded as a top interest for men in the UK, but its lead is slender over other pursuits like food and drink and travel, suggesting that brands may want to look beyond the traditional association with sports to access a larger, more diverse group of men. Indeed, when it comes to gaming, 67% of men have ever owned a gaming device, rising to four in five Millennials according to Mintel’s Video Games and Consoles report; a key target for the Gillette brand.

Creating new opportunities for brands

The global eSports market is now worth an estimated $700 million annually, with around 200 million people regularly watching eSports matches worldwide, highlighting its potential to serve as a platform for brands to increase their reach. As such, leading brands like Coca-cola, Budweiser, Red Bull and Doritos have all announced sponsorship deals in the eSports sector in recent years. However, eSports is just one example of how diverse consumer interest can be, and as it becomes easier for niche-interest communities to connect online, there are opportunities for brands to reflect this in their campaigns.

The growth of eSports into a mass market has created the need for new brand ambassadors beyond the traditional spokesmodels of previous generations. Stars like xPeke and EDG may not yet have the mainstream recognition of Messi and Federer, but they are household names to a market of 200 million people. In the global age, there may no longer be such a thing as a ‘niche market’. Viewed globally, even specialist interests can become substantial markets if they can coalesce as eSports has done. Brands are likely to find new markets if they can successfully attract these ‘niche market’ consumers.

 

Hera Crossan is a Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. Her background is in public relations consultancy, where she represented international financial services firms.

 

Hera Crossan
Hera Crossan

Hera Crossan is a Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. Her background is in public relations consultancy, where she represented international financial services firms.

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