On Our Radar: Esports

By BNC Marketing

Why Your Brand Needs to Take Note

Esports. It’s become a culture, a sport, a phenomenon that’s blossomed right under our noses.

Considering the $138 billion video gaming industry boasts 2.21 billion video gamers worldwide, it’s a force that can’t be ignored.  Esports, previously flourishing under the radar and limited to hardcore gamers, has emerged as the main event in the world of gaming.

ESPORTS ARRIVES ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

Smartly so, higher education has jumped on the esports bandwagon, recognizing the perfect complement to Computer Science and IT academic disciplines. Used to recruit and energize high potential students in this field, school sponsored esports teams have emerged across the country. Several colleges and universities now offer scholarships, like Ashland University in Ohio. Consider UC Irvine’s bold move to establish the country’s first esports program and dedicated arena that is open to gamers and hosts regular tournaments.

BARNES & NOBLE COLLEGE INSIGHTS: ESPORTS INTEREST IS HIGH – AND CLIMBING – ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

Recently, Barnes & Noble College polled students to gauge their awareness of and interest in esports. We wanted to determine to what extent this phenomenon has taken hold on college campuses – and we heard resoundingly that esports is clearly on Gen Z’s radar.

Awareness is high. 71% responded that they’ve heard of esports. Responses differed by gender, with 84% of college men saying they’ve heard of esports and 61% of college women responding similarly. Desire to attend an event is also noteworthy and something we expect to grow. One third (34%) of students said they’d be interested in attending an esports event on campus, with another 10% “on the fence” (and posing even more opportunity for brands). Men are more interested in attending than women.

Among those interested and those considering attending, nearly half (53%) of them would like to both watch AND play at an esports event. Men are more interested in watching and playing, while women are more interested in just watching.

College students have clear expectations about what should be offered at esports events:

  • Food, refreshments, and giveaways
  • Specific games, consoles, and peripheral brands
  • Ability to play games while waiting to watch matches
  • Pro gamers and teams competing or making guest appearances
  • Game developer discussion panels

They also have specific games in mind. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is a top game (61%) that students would be interested in seeing. Runners up include Call of Duty (33%), League of Legends (30%), Fortnite (29%), and Overwatch (29%). Women were more interested in Fortnite than men, while men were more interested in Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Top 5 Games

BIG OPPORTUNITIES FOR BRANDS TO REACH GEN Z ESPORTS FANS ON CAMPUS.

With college student awareness and interest in esports so high and expected to build, smart brands will connect to this rising star, right now! At this moment your brand can enjoy highest ROI (as costs are at their lowest) and brand competition has not yet intensified.

Whether you are directly related to esports (think computer peripherals or gaming software) or NOT so much (think apparel, food or beverages), Barnes & Noble College offers opportunities for your brand to leverage esports excitement among the 18-to-22-year old demographic.

  • Mobile tours provide hands-on immersive and social experiences and provide an easy way for your personnel to interact with college students from coast to coast.
  • In-store events deliver activations when students are looking to explore new brands, such as at our VIP Nights for freshmen during the start of the school year or De-Stress Fests held during finals time.
  • Pop-up shops offer gaming brands a venue to promote products to students
  • In-store lounges create relaxed settings for product demos, gaming stations, and product samplings as students hang out between classes or during study breaks.

SECURE YOUR SPOT IN THE COLLEGE ESPORTS WORLD AS ESPORTS SPONSORSHIPS ARE ON THE RISE.

Academic endorsements have drawn attention to the esports movement and bolstered its credibility. Brands like Intel, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Comcast, and T-Mobile, top spenders in this category, have already seen the opportunity to reach this dedicated and intense Gen Z fan base. As the movement continues its growth trajectory, smart brands looking to leverage this opportunity will move quickly to claim their place.

WANT INSPIRATION? LOOK TO THESE CREATIVE BRANDS BUILDING RELEVANCY WITH ESPORTS FANS.

Take example from brands like Champion and their co-branded apparel line developed in partnership with OpTic Gaming, a large esports organization. Their innovative NBA2K immersive sponsorship fully outfits real-life players in custom gaming-geared Champion clothing and takes it a step further by integrating their clothing in animated version into the digital games as well.  Then there’s G FUEL® , positioned as The Official Drink of Esports™, that has seized advertising opportunities inside and outside of the esports arena.

Understanding the nuances and needs of the esports culture can help your brand identify product design ideas, promotions, and messaging that will truly resonate in the esports world. Get In Touch With Us Today.

IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE, YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Get Started

Create experiences that drive brand awareness and acquire new customers for your brand.

Partner With Us