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Esports Brand Strategy Future of Media

Why brands should enter the esports space with a purpose


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 15, 2021 | 5 min read

One of the biggest roadblocks for brands in understanding gaming is the audience and not subscribing to outdated stereotypes in terms of who or what comprises a gamer. The Drum finds out how brands should approach the esports space.

No longer a niche interest of a few hobbyists, gaming and esports has amassed mainstream appeal and is everywhere. Previously thought to be predominantly male, younger with lower levels of disposable income, and homogenous in their tastes and gaming consumption, gamers and fans are now a diverse mix in Asia Pacific.

Charlie Baillie, the co-founder and chief commercial officer at Ampverse says gaming has seen a significant shift in its audiences, with multiple subsets of gamers across different ages, demographics, and socio-economic backgrounds as evidenced by Newzoo.

"There are vast differences in the profiles of audiences, ranging from pro esports enthusiasts to casual gamers, to consumers who follow influencers for their content," he explains.

"Moving forward, what this means is a valuable opportunity for non-endemic brands to lean in, as evidenced by recent campaigns from the likes of LVMH, Porsche, Mercedes, Burberry and Visa."

He adds: "Progressive brands are recognising the power of using gaming talent as familiar, relatable and influential faces for campaigns, such as the recent partnership between KFC and the No.1 Thai esports team Bacon Time, who are now the face of KFC in Thailand."

Singapore-based health and wellness company Osim, best known for its massage chairs, made its maiden foray into the esports scene by launching uThrone at the end of 2020, touting it as “the world’s first gaming massage chair”.

Osim decided to enter the scene after seeing the rise of the global esports and gaming industry, as well as the work-from-home trend which has seen growing issues of aches and pains faced by users from spending a prolonged amount of time sitting in front of their desks.

The chair’s ambassador is Singaporean mandopop singer JJ Lin, who created his own chair in deep purple and gave out 17 chairs to his closest friends such as fellow musician Jay Chou, NBA star Jeremy Lin and DJ Steve Aoki.

Lynn Tan, deputy chief executive of Osim International, explains the company developed uThrone to address an unmet need amongst the growing pool of gamers, as well as working adults because expanding Osim’s products to address the needs of different demographics has always been an important part of the company’s vision.

To better understand, Osim commissioned a survey with Ipsos in March 2020, before Singapore entered its lockdown period, officially termed as “circuit breaker”, to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Our findings showed that a staggering 60% of Singaporean gamers surveyed experienced physical discomfort from extended periods of gaming. Shoulder and back pains were highlighted as key discomfort areas,” explains Tan.

“This issue would have no doubt been amplified as people spent more time indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, the one-of-kind uThrone gaming massage chair aims to address the needs of this growing pool of individuals, helping them to alleviate these pains before they turn into chronic health concerns. The launch of the uThrone is also timely given the exponential growth of the global e-sports and gaming industry.”

Tan explains that as the esports industry continues evolving, Osim is actively looking out for further opportunities to participate in the global esports scene through events and partnerships and remain committed to supporting esports teams and athletes across the world.

Osim is currently a sponsor of JJ Lin’s esports team, Team SMG, to further Team SMG's ambitions in the global esports scene as part of its strategy to growing and supporting the global esports scene by forging connections with both casual and professional players around the world.

Through this partnership, Osim hopes to further the team’s efforts in developing the skills and capabilities of each player and see them succeed at top-tier international tournaments.

“Unfazed by the challenges that other physical competitions face during the pandemic, the popularity of esports shows no sign of abating, demonstrating that a growing pool of individuals will be able to benefit from products that address their immediate and long-term health and wellness concerns,” she says.

“The nature of the sport means that these athletes spend large amounts of time in a seated position in front of their computers, and we felt that much could be done to enhance their comfort. In addition, the pandemic has also reinforced the importance of taking care of one’s health and well-being when working from home – another key area that the uThrone looks to address.”

As Osim continues to develop products for its gaming line, Tan says the company will also look to partner with other global brands that are leaders in their respective industries, such as Acer’s Predator for the uThrone, to address emerging and overlooked health and wellness concerns, as well as create greater synergy and share in expertise.

“Looking ahead, we aim to remain at the forefront of innovation by integrating our time-tested massage technologies with modern-day needs and remaining a trusted partner for our customers of all ages in the years to come,” she adds.

The exponential growth of the esports industry is projected to reach more than US$1.6 billion in market revenue by 2023. The Drum previously spoke to Porsche on why it invested in esports during a pandemic and platforms like Storm on the rise of hyper-casual gaming.

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