Video games are a popular platform brands are using to reach and interact with consumers. Gamers of all ages and genders continue to be a target market for new products in virtual and IRL experiences. In 2023, the number of worldwide gamers was estimated to reach 3.38 billion and the industry is expected to generate $184 billion, according to Newzoo’s Global Games Market report. According to Cassandra’s Gen Alpha report, 40% of Gen Z and nearly 60% of Gen Alpha refer to themselves as “gamers.” Meanwhile, Circana’s data showed that gamers aged 45+ outnumbered gamers aged 2-24 in the U.S.; they are the fastest-growing base, up nearly 22 million players since 2018. In addition, 47% of console video game players are female. Snack, beverage, and beauty brands are getting in the game and targeting gamers with new products and experiences.
SNACK ATTACK WHILE GAMING
Gamers are often sedentary and snacking is prominent. According to Newzoo’s research, 80% of gamers regularly eat or drink while playing games and 92% regularly eat or drink while watching game-related content. Salty snacks are most consumed by gamers while playing, followed by soft drinks, and sweet snacks. In response, brands are creating snacks and beverages for gamers. In Japan, Nissin launched Gaming Cup Noodle Energy Garlic & Black Pepper Yakisoba and Gaming Curry Meshi Energy Ginger Keema Curry. Instead of broth the products feature sauce and contain caffeine, niacin, and arginine. Imane Anys Twitch streamer known as Pokimane and Darcey Macken teamed up on the launch of Myna Snacks. The first launch is the Midnight Mini Cookie, which is formulated with a non-GMO gluten-free flour blend, coconut sugar, and mushroom powder, and designed to be healthy for gamers. In addition, it is free of dairy, soy, gluten and grains, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. In partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures’ film Wonka, Xbox created an Xbox sweepstakes for fans to win Wonka-inspired Xbox prizes. The Wonka-Inspired Xbox Series X and Storefront Display is a Wonka chocolate bar-inspired Xbox Series X bundled with a unique console display modeled after Willy Wonka’s iconic chocolate store. The (X)box of Chocolates is “the first-ever official edible Xbox Controller made of 100% pure chocolate and wrapped in the signature gold wrapper; a custom designed, burgundy-colored Xbox Wireless Controller inspired by Wonka’s coat from the film; and five additional chocolate truffles to complement Xbox gaming adventures.” The five special chocolate flavors included Achievement Hunting (chocolate with a boost of energy ingredients), Button Masher (chocolate with espresso), Your Citrus Sidekick (chocolate and orange), Xtra Kick (chocolate with heat), and Wonka for the Win (100% pure chocolate). HI-CHEW partnered with Fortnite by Epic Games and Super League on a limited time immersive integration throughout three mini-games: Hiding Game, Lucky Blocks, and Troll Free For All. Examples include power up blocks, branded pushcarts, and HI-CHEW hiding spots. At the request of Halo and Diablo gamers, MTN Dew Game Fuel returned for a limited time in Game Fuel Citrus Cherry (Halo Infinite) and MTN Dew Game Fuel Mystic Punch (Diablo IV). To celebrate the return, the brands collaborated on the Halo x MTN DEW merch capsule Collection sold exclusively at the Halo Gear Shop.
IRL GAMER FOOD EXPERIENCES
In addition to snacking, gaming influences IRL food experiences, many inspired by characters. For example, in celebration of the Magic the Gathering’s 30th anniversary, IHOP and Tripleclix partnered on the limited time Magic-themed menu featuring five mana-inspired pancakes: Ajani’s Purr-fect Pancakes, Chandra’s Pyroblast Pancakes, Jace’s Illusion-Berry Pancakes, Liliana’s Chocolate Corruption Pancakes, and Vivien’s Heroic Protein Pancakes. As an activation, IHOP held three nationwide, gamer-hosted dinner parties. Inspired by anime shows such as Spirited Away and Food Wars!, Vancouver-based content creator Nadine Estero brings anime-inspired food to life on social media. In 2022, Estero published The Anime Chef cookbook, and her second cookbook is expected in fall 2024.
Gaming continues to grow and is expected to reach $205.7 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 1.3%, according to Newzoo. Gamers vary by gender, ethnicity, and disabilities. Brands are partnering with video developers to increase diversity and inclusivity. To increase diversity in video games, especially for Black gamers, Dove partnered with Open Source Afro Hair Library and launched Code My Crown a free guide on how to code natural hair. According to Dove’s research, 85% of Black gamers believe video games poorly represent textured hair. A team of Black 3D artists, animators, programmers, and academics developed fifteen original hair sculpts for the guide with styles that range from Afro Fades to Twist Outs. Peruvian Pilsen Callao beer introduced E-nterpreters Season 2, a software that enables deaf gamers to express themselves through speech, as a follow up to the initial software, which translated spoken Discord conversations into sign language. Developed by DDB Peru the software leverages AI and facial recognition technology and “interprets the lip movements and gestures of deaf gamers via a regular webcam, converting their expressions into real-time voice messages.” Doritos’ research revealed that 46% of gamers in the UK dislike the sound of other people eating, 30% of U.S. gamers complain the crunching impacts their performance, 68% of Portuguese gamers and 64% of Spanish gamers rank crisps or chips as the ‘loudest’ and most irritating noise-wise. In response, Doritos released the world’s first ‘crunch-cancelling’ technology for gamers to enjoy their snacks without distracting other players.
BEAUTY UNIVERSE FOR GAMERS
Snacks and beverages are not the only consumer packaged goods wanting to reach consumers. Beauty brands are entering the metaverse and creating experiences geared to gamers. Boss Fragrances has entered Fortnite with the Be Your Own Boss Island game. Consumers enter a code to access the island and they are taken to a lobby where four Boss Bottled fragrances: Boss Bottled EDT, Boss Bottled EDP, Boss Bottled Parfum, and Boss Bottled Elixir are on display. One player is designated as ‘the boss’ to climb to the top of a Boss bottle and collect a ‘spark’, while the other players are hunters. For the 2023 holiday season, Givenchy Beauty in collaboration with Doppelgänger created a Festive Winter Escape experience on Roblox. This is Givenchy’s second metaverse activation. The snow-covered chalet enabled players to update their avatar with limited edition looks with a virtual make-up station. This included the digital application of Prisme Libre Skin-Caring highlighter and new shades from the brand’s Le Rouge lipstick range and Le 9.10 eyeshadow palettes. Amika x Obsess launched the Amikaverse on Roblox, the brand’s first immersive virtual experience. The Amikaverse “allows users to learn about the brand as they create and share their own digital hair care products, engage in unique challenges, and interact with other characters.” E.l.f. Beauty debuted on Roblox with e.l.f. Up!, a gaming experience that teaches entrepreneurship and also lets players explore games inspired by the brand’s hero products. Sol de Janeiro joined Roblox with the Sol de Janeiro Universe. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro and the annual Carnival of Brazil, “players can spin a compliment wheel, share the resulting compliment with a friend, learn about core products, and participate in a sustainability scavenger hunt.”
Characters in games are inspiring fragrance creations. In July, Xbox hosted a sweepstakes for TMNT: Mutant Mayhem controllers, which came in four styles based on characters Leonardo, Rafael, Donatello, and Michelangelo. The slime-green-colored controllers came with a “delicious New York ‘za’”-shaped scent diffuser and three months of Xbox Game Pass along with a “bottle of customized pizza-scent liquid fragrance.” In February, Square Enix Japan e-Store introduced a trio of new Kingdom Hearts-themed Room Fragrance Mists inspired by the characters Aqua, Terra, and Ventus. Aqua features notes of freesia, jasmine, amber, patchouli, and cedarwood while Terra includes bergamot, clove, cinnamon, rose, geranium, lilac, sandalwood, patchouli, amber, and musk accords. Ventus highlights bergamot, yuzu, mandarin, water lily, rose, tea, musk, amber, and sandalwood notes. Jodi Lee Twitch streamer known as QuarterJade collaborated with Hear Me Raw on the Hear Me Raw x Quarterjade Brightener with Chlorophyll+ Oxygenating Rinse-Off Mask. The collaboration was “meant to underscore the importance of natural ingredients and sustainable, refillable packaging in skincare.”
Food, beverage, and beauty consumer brands are partnering with video game developers to develop engaging virtual in-game universes and IRL experiences. Consumers are engaging online and offline as these experiences demonstrate the intersection of gaming and consumer packaged goods. Watch as snack, beverage, and beauty brands continue to target and entertain gamers of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and disabilities.
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