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Marketing and esports: Understanding the esports fan

Publishers, teams, athletes and broadcasters share a common goal: they want to engage the fans. The more esports can attract and engage fans, the more attractive esports will be to sponsors, advertisers and investors.

But who is the esports fan? Here are some key insights on this growing segment.

The worldwide esports audience reached 395 million in 2018, according to Newzoo, and was expected to grow by 15% in 2019. Fans average 100 minutes per watching session on platforms like Twitch, Mixer or YouTube Gaming.

Asia-Pacific accounts for 57% of the esports enthusiasts, while North America is the largest esports market on a per capita basis, boasting revenues of $409.1 million. The 23.9 million Esports Enthusiasts in North America will generate $17.13 per fan this year, higher than in any other region.

Seven out of ten esports fans are males that range from 18 to 34 years of age with Nielsen reporting that the average age of an esports fan is 26 years old. Most esports fans are young, early adopters, active on social media channels such as Twitter and Reddit, and grew up online or with tech-related interests (video games, media, computers, mobile apps, and IoT).

In fact, it’s reported by Newzoo that among “North American male millennials (age 21 to 35), esports is just as popular as baseball or hockey, with 22% watching it. In North America, the most popular sport in the region, football, is only twice as popular as esports among male millennials. For male viewers between the ages of 36 and 50, football is only three times as popular as esports.”

Reasons why male fans engage with esports:
To learn tips and tricks from the professionals – 44%
Entertainment aspects – 41%
To become a better gamer – 39%
To connect/meet/socialize with other games – 19%
To participate in or see cosplay – 9%

Reasons why female fans engage with esports:
Entertainment aspects – 40%
Learn tips and tricks from the pros – 36%
To become a better gamer – 29%
To connect/meet/socialize with other gamers – 22%
To participate in or see cosplay – 13%

More people watched the finals of the League of Legends World Championship than the Super Bowl in 2018 (approximately 200 million viewers versus 98 million). It is an opportunity brands cannot miss.

Your employees are your brand

What is a QSR brand? Is it your logo and advertising? Or is it your food?

Your brand is the sum total of the entire customer experience: your advertising, your social media activities, the customer service you provide, your community involvement, the restaurant design, the cleanliness of your washrooms… and the quality of your food. Every one of these factors can and will influence the opinion of your customers.

But there’s another aspect to your brand that’s as important as the food: your employees. Many QSRs make sizable investments in-store décor but don’t invest in comprehensive employee training.

QSRs are typically staffed by students working part-time positions. Managers may sometimes not see the value in training them because there is often high staff turnover. However, a well-trained and motivated employee is more likely to remain loyal and not look elsewhere.

The fact is that students are eager to learn and want to do well: there is a sense of well-being and satisfaction that comes from positive achievements.

QSR employees are often provided with basic training on how to assemble the food and serve customers. They may recognize that customer service is important, but not what to do… or why.

They’re told “what” to do, but the “why” is missing from the equation.

• Do your employees understand your brand values and what you stand for as an organization?
• How to they fit into – and contribute to – the delivery of your brand values?
• Do they understand how their contribution helps the company, and how it helps them personally to grow?

Educate your employees on how the skills they learn at your restaurant are life skills and are transferable. They will help them throughout their career and life.

Finally, remember that continued positive reinforcement is not just important but crucial: recognize and reward your employees successes and good work. Do it both in the moment – a quiet “you did a great job with that customer” goes a long way – and in a more formal manner with a rewards program that has achievable goals and rewards.

The end result: you’ll improve employee satisfaction, retain your best employees longer, and enhance your customers’ experience of your brand.

Marketing and esports: What you need to know

The esports Ecosystem

Esports is “the next big thing”… or so we’ve been told. According to Deloitte, $4.5B USD was invested in esports in 2018 alone. Esports is not without complexity and issues, but it also has the potential to become one of the most important entertainment platforms. What is it, how does it work, and how can marketers leverage it?

What does esports stand for?

Esports is the competitive practice of video games.

Esports word

The value chain of esports

Esports publishers, teams, athletes, broadcasters and streamers all share a common goal in esports: they want to engage the fans.

Esports publishers use their large R&D budgets to develop and maintain games. They create the games and own the intellectual property, which is the main difference with traditional sports such as the NBA, MLB or NFL where the club owners control the leagues. Esports games vary widely, from sport simulation to first-personal shooter. These games can be played with smartphones, desktop PCs or gaming consoles.

Esports events also vary widely, from local competitions to worldwide events that can fill stadiums. Like traditional sports, fans who attend games in person get to see performances by the most elite esports athletes. Click here to see the biggest event in esports in 2019.

Today, esports teams and individual athletes are viewed as professional as in any other sport and are gaining huge followings with fans.

Broadcasters and streamers create esports content for their online communities through platforms such as Twitch or Mixer, playing the game on their own or commenting someone else’s play. These broadcasters and streamers have also generated loyal esports followers.

Whether you are a food brand, a sports apparel company, or another brand that hopes to attract a young, digitally engaged audience, esports represents a growing and attractive opportunity.

Millennials: Healthy Eating vs Convenience

The past decade has seen an increasing consumer trend to move away from functional foods (food that is processed, modified, and/or contains additives) toward more basic, “whole foods”.

But millennials, more than any other age group, prioritize convenience over healthy eating. They spend less time on food preparation than any other age group. They eat at restaurants and get takeout food more than any other age group. And food delivery services and mobile ordering are increasingly popular with millennials.

Millennials say that they prefer healthy, whole foods over functional foods, but not at the expense of convenience, taste, and cost.

This represents a big opportunity for health food brands and quick service restaurants (QSRs). How can your brand deliver both healthy eating AND convenience?

Health food brands should consider offering packaged, prepared take-home meals that offer convenience without processed ingredients. It’s a growing category in groceries, and these meals could also be available via your own online ordering & delivery service.

Likewise, quick-service restaurants can offer complete “meal in a box” packages via their app or website, including home delivery, making it easy and convenient for consumers to have dinner delivered right to their door.

The New Age of Digital Advertising

This past summer, Google took steps to give users more control over their online privacy, allowing users to block or clear third-party cookies more easily.

The past few years have seen numerous media reports about how companies are harvesting and using seemingly personal data to do everything from delivering personalized advertising to influencing political opinions. Consequently, consumers have become increasingly leery of platforms like Facebook and Google.

In recent years, election interference in multiple countries and cyberattacks have resulted in new data privacy legislation, such as the EU’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. These new regulations control how brands and technology providers gather and use data, which in turn limits advertising capabilities.

Google hasn’t eliminated cookies, because cookies are also used to keep users signed in to favourite websites. But Google and other online providers recognize that cookie technology can be exploited and is under fire from legislators, and eventually new, more secure technology will take its place. Brands must prepare for a cookie-less future.

The demise of cookies will transform how brands and publishers gather and utilize data. As more users block third-party cookies, targeted advertising won’t be as easy as it was during the cookie era. Brands will have to rethink how they reach their target audience, spread their message and trigger interest.

Customization and pinpoint targeting are currently the greatest benefits of digital advertising. Until technology companies find new, less invasive methods of online targeting, digital marketing will become more of a mass marketing platform.

In the cookie-less world, creativity will be the most important factor in order to engage your online audience, encourage conversation and sharing, and provide value to your customers.

Exclusive inclusivity – Part two: Feeding our social needs

What motivates consumers to attend specific arts, entertainment or sports programming? Recent behavioral research has identified consumer tendencies towards products and experiences which reflect their ideal self-image.

We’ve always been driven by a need for self-actualization and self-fulfillment. We chose to participate in activities and events that bolster our ideal self-image. Are you an Eagles-loving NFL fan, or is an NBA game and DJ Khaled concert more your style?

What’s different today is that we have the social tools that enable these needs: we constantly curate and define our image via our social channels. Our social content says to the world: “here’s who I am.”

But here’s the catch: while we want to stand out from the pack and be seen as individuals, we also tend to seek experiences where we’ll be among our peers and where we’ll feel comfortable.

How does this impact arts, entertainment and sports marketing? The best entertainment marketing communicates “exclusive inclusivity”. It creates an attitude and image that sets the experience apart as unique but that also mirrors the attitude of the target audience. It says “you’re unique, but you’ll also fit in”. It taps into the psychographic needs of its target audience and encourages us to feel good about our decision to attend and about sharing the experience with others.

Our self-image changes over time – as do our entertainment choices. Field Day’s annual research shows clear and predictable differences in our live entertainment choices based on age, gender, education and geographic location. And those differences are influenced by our psychographic needs. The illustration below shows the differences in entertainment choices of an urban female millennial vs a suburban male boomer.

Tapping into the needs, motivations and idealized self-image of your target demographic and creating an atmosphere of “exclusive inclusivity” is key to marketing success.

Is ethical marketing risky?

Ethical marketing has seen a big rise in popularity and effectiveness in the last five years, but consumers are now expecting more from brands in their social actions. In 2019, brands with a clear social conscience are leading the way with consumers. According to the Shelton Group, 86% of consumers want brands to take a stand on social issues. In 2018, few campaigns were more popular than Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad.

In 2019, consumers want to align themselves with brands that reflect their own ethics and principles. The challenge with ethical marketing is that consumers expect action and not just words and pretty pictures. While consumers sometimes feel powerless to implement social change on a large scale, they know that corporations often have the financial and political clout to influence change.

For example, Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for racial bias training (internal influence), while Patagonia sued the US government in a bid to protect Bears Ears National Monument and coordinated the fight to protect this public land (external influence).

Ethical marketing is far from traditional marketing and it may seem risky. It takes visionary internal leadership to define a company’s moral values and to make them integral to a company’s ethos. It requires close collaboration between operations, public relations and marketing.

But when it’s done right, ethical and social marketing brings to light the core values of a company, and in doing so has a far deeper and longer lasting impact than a traditional ad campaign. It’s not about a product; it’s about a way of living.

Franchising and the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Think back to when you opened your own business. That first location was a labour of love. You sweated over every decision, large and small: products, pricing, suppliers, decor, equipment… You took on a huge risk in launching your own business and nothing happened without your careful consideration.

Within a few years you were successful enough that you started to think about expansion. And that’s when someone whispered the magic word in your ear: “franchising”. Why franchising? It allows you to expand quickly without shouldering the debt and risk. But when franchisees are the ones carrying the financial burden, they want to ensure their investment will pay off. Ideally, they want a say in the decision-making, or at the very least they need to trust that the decisions are being made by a team of qualified professionals.

But you’ve always made all the decisions, and it’s worked so far. Why change? When all of the decisions flow through you, you create a bottleneck and nothing happens quickly. But more importantly, you don’t necessarily have the time or expertise to make effective decisions on every aspect of your growing business.

In your early days, you may have enjoyed designing your own advertising or choosing the colour of your wall paint, but now those tasks are simply distractions from the real work you should be doing. When franchisees see the CEO involved in every minute decision, they will quickly lose trust that they are part of a well-managed organization.

This is when you need to let go of your entrepreneur mindset and relinquish control.

One common solution is to engage your franchisees, share your plans, and solicit their input. But here’s where the danger lies: like you, franchisees are entrepreneurs who don’t necessarily have the expertise to make effective decisions on every area of the business. If you give your franchisees decision-making power you likely won’t get the business results you need.

Make sure you hire qualified professionals in each key area of your business – from franchising to operations – and empower them to do their jobs. This isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to franchising. Regardless of the industry, great leaders know how to delegate. When your franchisees see a management team that is skilled, efficient and effective – and more importantly, when they see the financial results – they’ll recognize that their future is in good hands and you’ll gain their lasting trust.

Exclusive inclusivity – Part one: Why we attend

If you’re marketing an event, attraction, sport, museum or arts performance, the odds are you’ve gathered demographic data on your customer, and you have a fairly good idea of WHO attends.

But do you know WHY they attend?

If you don’t understand why people engage with your programming your marketing may fail to connect with your audience.

Why do we “attend”? What drives us to get up off the couch, purchase a ticket and go to a play, a gallery, an event or a game? It’s the desire to satisfy deep-set and often intangible values which the participant may not fully understand or be able to articulate.

Until recently, even researchers couldn’t agree on our motivations. One comprehensive research project stated that the most cited motivations for leisure experiences were pleasure and escapism. Another research paper said that the key factors were a shared experience and social engagement. Yet another paper said that consumers were drawn to challenging and socially-engaged leisure activities.

A 2011 study by University of Leeds White Rose University Consortium concluded that “the complex motivations of theatre audiences remain unclear.”

And yet, in the past decade, we’re starting to see patterns emerge in consumer behaviour research. Recent research identifies consumer tendency towards products and experiences which reflect their ideal self-image. This applies equally to packaged goods and ticketed attractions.

This may seem like a shift in motivation, but we’ve always been driven by a need for self-actualization and self-fulfillment – as psychologist Abraham Maslow noted in 1943 in his Hierarchy of Needs.

What’s different in the 21st century is that we have social tools that enable these needs: we constantly curate and define our self-image via our social channels. Twenty years ago when we visited a museum or went to a game, we likely only shared that information with a small circle of family and friends. In 2019, our every activity is shared – often with people whose only contact with us is via social media, and who form their image of us based on the content we share. We have the ability to shape our image via this content – and therefore by the cultural, entertainment and sports activities we choose to attend.

WATCH FOR PART 2 COMING SOON: “Exclusive Inclusivity”: How arts, sports and entertainment can feed our social needs.

How Instagram checkout works

Instagram has changed the way we consume fashion, food, and even entertainment. Most importantly, it has become a powerful window display for a new generation of brands and shoppers. It was inevitable for Instagram to get into mobile commerce. Late in March 2019, Instagram introduced the checkout feature, which allows consumers to purchase products without leaving the app. This new initiative is in closed beta for businesses, and currently available to the US market only.

How it works for the consumer

Checkout tags will show up on brands’ stories and feed. Instagram did not specify whether the tag could appear through influencer’s posts. When users tap the post to reveal the product tag, they will see a checkout option that replaces the current “view on website”. On their first purchase only, they will enter their payment information, which will be saved for future purchases. After their order, users will be able to track the package with a new “Orders” section on their profile with options to return, contact the merchant, or cancel the order.

How it works for the seller

In addition to having a more appealing ad platform, Instagram will generate revenue by charging the seller a nominal fee per transaction. While the selling fee hasn’t been revealed, Instagram did communicate that prices will not change for consumers. This means that sellers will have to cut their margin instead.
Instagram is accelerating mobile commerce. Will you be ahead of your competitors and conquer the “Social shopping” market?