The young, tech-savvy world of esports has attracted a myriad of non-endemic brand sponsors in recent years, but few as prominent as those in the energy drink sector. The idea of a dedicated video gamer is often synonymous with snack foods and caffeine, so it’s not a surprise that energy drink brands are thriving in the fast-paced, high-stakes world of esports.
According to analyst firm Newzoo, roughly 82% of the $897.2 million esports market in 2019 came from endemic and non-endemic brand investments. When you consider that 495 million people will watch esports in 2020, significant opportunities exist for energy drink brands to earn affinity by aligning with the world’s top organizations.
Betting on a New Industry
Competition is high in the energy drink market, which is expected to reach $86.01 billion by 2026. New energy drinks enter the market each year, each with its own twists from protein to carbonation and alcoholic content. That being said, esports has become a key promotional outlet for brands to set themselves apart.
Not surprisingly, the top energy drink brands on the global market also happen to be the biggest sponsors in esports.
Top energy drink brand Red Bull has crafted its image around extreme sports partnerships and entered esports in 2006. At the time, esports were just starting to find an audience and the Austrian company seized an opportunity that continues to pay off. Since then, Red Bull has made a number of high-profile partnership deals such as those with League of Legends publisher Riot Games for a number of global events.
Coca-Cola’s Monster Energy controls the second-highest portion of the energy drink market worldwide and is another common name in esports brand sponsorship. Its trademark green logo can be found on the jerseys of some of the top teams in the world including Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid, as well as becoming a sponsor of global Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament Dreamhack Masters.
PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew is using its existing affiliation with gamers to push its energy drink, MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL. The brand has focused on a number of esports partnerships over the last few years including deals with Team SoloMid (TSM), 100 Thieves’ Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, Esports Arena, ESL, and Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League.
What all three brands have in common is a defined voice within the esports community and a track record for embracing the culture.
When Team Liquid announced its partnership with Monster Energy, this sentiment was shared by its founder, Victor “Nazgul” Goossens who said:
“This is such a natural partnership because Monster is always looking for new ways to make an impact on people, and they sponsor the most prominent gaming events and organizations in esports.”
Thanks to its existing support of high-pressure sporting events, top energy drink brand Red Bull didn’t have to change much to appeal to esports brands. In fact, Red Bull Gaming’s slogan is simply, “Giving wiiings to gamers!” The Austrian company sold a record 7.5 billion cans worldwide in 2019, propelled by growth in emerging markets like Brazil, India, and Africa. Brazil has the third most esports enthusiasts in the world in addition to being an emerging market for energy drinks.
Coca-Cola prides itself as the first non-endemic esports sponsor and really hits it home with energy drink brands. MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL is touted as “the first beverage designed just for gamers.” Like Red Bull, Monster Energy attracts more attention through its actions than its slogans saying only, “fueling gamers worldwide.”
Energizing the Esports Sponsorship Game
While many brands enter esports each year, all of them can learn from the way that energy drinks represent themselves. It’s not enough to use gamer lingo in marketing or slap a logo onto the team’s jersey — brands must offer the same value and enthusiasm as the audiences they are trying to reach.
In doing so, energy drinks have actually fueled its own market and stoked the fires of healthy competition among themselves.
Coca-Cola established itself as the first non-endemic esports sponsors and led the way for other brands to follow suit. Since then, esports has become an incubator for new products from established brands to ambitious startups, all hungry for young, engaged audiences.
Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer, for example, launched its own energy drink line called Respawn and released it in partnership with esports organization eUnited. Coca-Cola recently partnered with Rocket League team Pittsburg Knights to launch a new product called Coke Energy. Overwatch League team Atlanta Reign even came out with its own energy drink, Reign, through Monster Energy.
Energy drink marketing is focused around “fueling” and therefore helping a gamer reach his/her goals, while fostering communities through competition and events. Any brand hoping to enter the esports space must focus on a value proposition to audiences and not the other way around. By offering to help gamers through energy, these brands have found success through a mutual passion for competition and striving to be the best.
This article was written by HB Duran.
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