The hype around eSports’ impending entry into the global zeitgeist has already led the likes of Burger King, Gillette and Coca-Cola investing marketing spend into the adolescent industry by way of events, campaigns and partnerships.
Now its allure has finally pricked the ears of consumer goods marketers – mattress brand Casper, a name one might not associate with gaming, has forged a relationship with Fnatic, one of the largest eSports teams in the world.
Casper is one of a handful of mattress brands to have sprung up in the last five years as an ecommerce driven, direct-to-consumer alternative to the anonymous labels carried by the likes of Dreams and Warren Evans. It was founded three years ago in New York and is now a global business promising a meticulously ergonomic product, free delivery and a free 100-night trial.
The link between Casper and Fnatic, one of the biggest names in eSports, is logical, if slightly tenuous.
“Esports is a category which, like us, is very, very young,” said Constantin Eis, co-founder and European managing director. “Gamers and eSports professionals play for up to 20 hours a day and need to get a good night’s sleep to concentrate. Therefore it fits perfectly to us."
The relationship kicked off at a party last week in London at Fnatic’s spacious London offices. The event was open to the public and allowed gamers to test out Casper mattresses while gaming (a mini Casper-decked out bedroom has now been set up permanently in the space for hardcore eSports gamers to sleep in between tournaments) and was supported by an educational Sleep Tips For Gamers campaign.
The partnership also highlights Casper’s desire to target slightly younger market of consumer than its competitors might be eyeballing. Eis explained its customer is “a bit younger – an early adopter”.
“Millennials spend more time in bed than anyone else,” he said. “[They’re] interacting with their friends, gaming. And if you then move up the age ladder one step you’ll find a lot of freelancers working from their beds. There’s a lot of things happening in bed, besides sleep.”
Alongside the interest in eSports, Casper is slowly but surely building a strong brand that Eis believes doesn’t take itself too seriously (for instance, customers that call a hotline after 8pm can request to be read a goodnight story) and prizes the power of experiential marketing, and talking to customers and potential customers. A strong brand will be key to its success as it competes with the other new mattress companies on the scene – Leesa, Eve and Simba offer consumers a very similar proposition.
“The whole [sleep] industry is changing and it’s changing because the offline experience is not living up to how people want to buy products,” said Eis. “I think we’re the driver of that change. People are becoming more and more cautious about how they sleep and how they rest, and through that they become more conscious of the surface they’re sleeping on and what are they doing during those eight hours.
“[It’s] an industry that has not been that innovative for quite some time and now sees the disruption through direct to consumer models such as Casper.”