Synergy Flavors, the global manufacturer and supplier of flavors, extracts and essences, has published a report entitled “Powering the Future of Esports” in which its industry experts discuss the fast-growing and dynamic sports and video game markets and the opportunities therein.
According to the report, the global gaming market is now worth around $152 billion but continues to experience significant growth (9.6% YoY). Not only that, but gaming also has a near-global appeal with large markets in most parts of the world.
Not surprisingly, the largest share of this market is in Asia-Pacific ($72.2 billion), but $34.7 billion of the market comes from Europe and Africa, with an impressive growth of 11.5% in Year-to-year comparison (Nutrition Integrated).
Despite a significant spate of launches in this space, innovation was heavily weighted into one product type – energy drinks – which accounted for 48% of those launches, Synergy says.
The company therefore conducted its own research to understand the different cliques within the gaming community and their different needs, with the aim of proposing innovations that can take the category to the next level.
A motley crew
“The first thing to understand is that gaming groups are far from homogeneous, although most media analysis often tries to portray them as such,” explains the report.
Gaming data analysis company NewZoo has divided the gaming market into six broad demographic groups based primarily on frequency of gaming: The professional gamer (eSports player), the mega-influencer (streamer), the micro-influencer (content creator) and the gaming enthusiast (gamer).
The spectrum between elite athletes and casual mobile gamers is wide, and there is a large market of consumers within that spectrum who may be open to investing in targeted food, beverage and nutrition products.
In addition, the age of the players is very different. Synergy’s data shows that 21% of gamers are under the age of 18, 38% are between 18 and 34 years old, and 26% are between 35 and 54 years of age. Perhaps most surprisingly, 15% are over 55 years old.
Looking at the average player age for each game, Synergy’s data suggests that Call of Duty players have a higher median age of 28, compared to an average of 19 for Fortnite players.
The goal of the game
Synergy says brands that can thrive in this space over the long term will be the ones that do “Truly understand the diverse spectrum of consumer groups within gaming and recognize their need states and unique requirements.”
It adds that the consumer’s state of need is influenced by the game they are playing.
When playing a first person shooter game like Call of Duty, the typical game length is 10-20 minutes and requires concentration and fast reaction time. While multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft can last over an hour and require sustained concentration.
And since many gamers tend to focus on and master just one or two games, Chris Whiting, European Business Development Manager at Synergy Flavors, suggests brands have the option to target gamers of specific games either through the product format or the addressing general branding and messaging.
“It’s a pretty empty space where we don’t see a huge amount of innovation,” Whiting said NI, “We see some brands collaborating with games, but these are just general collaborations that allow them to leverage their diverse audiences.”
To further help brands target gamers of specific games, Synergy commissioned several reports that use social listening tools to create average personality profiles for gamers of different games based on their social media activity.
The resulting data suggests that Fortnite and first-person shooter game players are relatively similar, as indicated by a “fiery” disposition. While the players of multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA, like League of Legends) were very different, many were less fiery and more prone to stress and self-esteem, and comparatively more imaginative and appreciative of art.
The report explains that this knowledge can help guide product health functions and branding:
“If MOBA gamers are a target demographic, the comparatively high propensity to be imaginative and appreciate art can give brands some latitude in design, perhaps choosing bolder artwork and even taking advantage of the atmospheric and stylized graphics of some of the more popular MOBA titles . ”
Whiting adds that despite the well-served category, there’s still room for innovation in energy drinks.
“We see a lot of interest in alternative flavors in the energy drink space.
“Like whey proteins, because people use these products so frequently, they like to try different flavors. But it’s a balancing act between that and oversaturating your portfolio!”
He added: “The new opportunity in energy drinks lies in additional functions such as cognitive benefits.”
The Synergy report identifies a major opportunity for products that address alternative health needs.
When they asked casual users what attributes were desirable in a playful nutritional product, the most popular product types were healthier snacking options (92.71%) and products that offer more energy and improved focus (both at 87.5%).
Further down the list (at 80.21% of respondents), but still of interest, are products that can help with post-game relaxation.
“Some gaming formats can notoriously cause a lot of stress, and so products that help alleviate some of it can be beneficial,” the report states.
Whiting goes on to explain that snacks are a perfect category to offer these types of benefits.
“It’s about incorporating some of those additional functional benefits like cognitive health with ingredients like ashwagandha and functional mushrooms like cordyceps and lion’s mane.”
He said that having these types of ingredients in convenient formats like jelly beans is a great opportunity.
“One of the handy things about a handy snack [as opposed to drinks] you are less likely to spill the product over expensive electronics!”