eSports and video games are now very essential in connecting with millennial’s and Gen Z, but luxury brands are now looking towards monetization.

In the last one year and 6 months, Puma has signed four deals with gaming and eSports groups.  The last was with the South Korean League of Legends online squad maker, Gen.G eSports , and the deal involves clothing the team in puma jerseys and a co-branding clothing line. The enthusiasm over luxury lines increased during the stay at home.

Popular CS:GO team, Team Liquid’s merchandise and apparel has been a huge hit since they introduced it and is one of the best ways to show loyal support to your favorite CS:GO teams and players. Whether you’re at home watching games and tournaments on Twitch.tv or browsing sites like CSGOBook.com for the latest odds, gambling games and news – eSports merchandise is a way to look great as well as giving your preferred team the support they deserve.

This year, the health crisis induced stay at home and physical distancing boosted the $159.3 billion online gaming and eSports market, and it is now expected to garner up to 2.7 billion players before 2020 runs out. Information from the Senior Strategist for eSports and Marketing Innovation at Puma, Matt Shaw, revealed that 85% of the customers of Puma from the United States play games, and 75% of them watch gaming streams on a regular basis. The more the people that consume their content become fans of eSports , which is a huge leap in behavior, the bigger the overlap gets, according to him. So, it’s a crossover with a huge potential.

Gradually, fans of eSports and gamers are showing that they are also consumers of beauty and fashion, who are willing to buy in game and real life products as well, attracting the attention of brands. There is an increase in the number of female gamers, and the overall spending capability of gamers have also increased, giving brands the chance to see this cohort as an audience that is full of prospective customers that they can market. Though there is not enough data on the amount of spending on beauty and luxury within gaming and eSports , the success of recent collaborations with beauty and fashion reveals that the audience is eager to spend on these new products.

In beauty and fashion, signature in game looks was released in the famous Animal Crossing this year by Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and Valentino, while Gillette Venus and Parfums Givenchy took care of the in game beauty of players. The Nicole Cuddihy developed Venus range gives users the chance to incorporate characters like stretch marks, cellulite, body hair, acne and freckles to the in-game avatars to make them look more real. Every brand wants to be where their customers are according to Venus’ Director of Communications, MyAnh Nghiem. The pre health crisis pace was set by the 2019 partnership collaboration between Louis Vuitton and the League of Legends, just before the stay at home orders, and it involved in-game prestige skins and real life capsule collection. For the head of Business Development and eSports Partnerships at Riot Games, Naz Aletaha, that collaboration was a validating moment for the audience of eSports .

Just like in traditional sports, the expressions of allegiance, support, and fandom to a player, character or team is also very essential in pushing purchases, but collaborations with big  brands is also viewed by players and fans as an overdue recognition of the cultural status and value of gaming and eSports in a broader manner.

Everybody wants eSports to be made legitimate, and some respect shown to it, so as to move away from the prevalent general stereotype according to Sam Mathews, Chairman And CEO of the eSports Organization, Fnatic, that is based in London. The acceptance or endorsement by the global fashion brands shows a great respect to the players and the esports entertainment medium in general, as something that is elite and hard to do.

Testing the Appetite for Luxury

According to Farzam Kamel, who co-founded and is presiding over the New York based eSports organ, Andbox, growth of eSports and the forming of leagues and organizations has attracted more investment into hitherto under-capitalized customer touch-points, apparel inclusive. Mary Clark, a consultant that worked as a Lead Technical Designer for Ralph Lauren, and Maxwell Osborne, who served as Director of Consumer Products for Public School were employed by the firm in 2019. This was a big statement of Andbox’s intention of offering fashion products that can survive and thrive independently.

eSports demographics show young people as the major patrons, and they are big customers, but there are no great consumer products for them, according to Kamel. Their firm is about to fill that void according to him. Within a few days, products that were created by Osborne and two of its star players Saebyeolbe (SBB) and JoNak, sold out. They also used the products as a chance to test items of higher price point, including the bomber jacket collection from SBB, which was sold for $500, and it sold out in five minutes. Kamel said that they are yet to determine what the ceiling would be for what the consumers are interested in buying.

The fashion appetite of their audience was also tested by the London based Fnatic, as they partnered with Gucci to launch a limited collection edition of Dive watches. The watches that were priced at $1,600 had the entire 100 pieces sell out as soon as it was launched. Through the collaboration, more partnerships between eSports and luxury will be birthed according to Mathews.

Learning from China

54 percent of eSports gamers and players are from the Asia pacific and the region also accounts for almost half of the global revenue. When you look at game revenues, you will see that China holds the highest market, with the US coming second, Japan coming third, while the fourth position is held by South Korea. Writing about this, Niko Partners’ eSports Senior Analyst, Alexander Champlin said that the size of the markets blend with a bigger eSports culture, which leads to a set of audience that are willing to separate themselves through high tier merchandise and in-game cosmetics.

Mathews from Fnatic posts that markets in Asia, like Japan, South Korea, and China are prone to be more interested in luxury fashion than the audience in the US.

China has since shown itself as a fertile ground for gaming and beauty collaborations, as revealed in the way the limited edition lipstick collection between Honor of Kings game from Tencent and Mac sold out within one hour on Tmall last year. The audience demographics of the game attracted the beauty brand, because half of it was females below 24 years. The massive growth of the female gaming community and the integration of beauty, style, and fashion into their streams inspire a huge crossover according to Mark Jiang, the Vice President of Global Commercial at Mac. In May, the branch launched a second collection.

According to APACs senior specialist at Gartner, Amie Song, the opportunities for monetization for beauty brands is still bigger than that of luxury brands in the in-game purchases and gaming collaboration realm, as the cost of real life luxury products inspired by gaming might not be affordable to many. But fashion still has it as a value marketing channel. In the Net-a-Porter’s animal crossing activation launched in China in April, skins that were inspired by the local brands, Shushu/Tong, and Staffonly’s summer/spring collections were introduced. However, users were all sent to the Tmall store of the eCommerce firm that has the real life products for purchase when they wanted to access the QR codes.

It spells more of an advertising move in the luxury and fashion space according to her. But the brands are looking past the social media buzz and marketing alone to ways of attracting traffic to products and services.