Marketing & Communications

How gaming can be used to create meaningful connections during the pandemic?

There’s a long history of brands working with gaming platforms to engage consumers online. With physical retail disrupted by the pandemic, brands are increasingly experimenting with unorthodox methods to connect with the consumers. Some recent examples include Fortnite and the lock-down phenomenon Animal Crossing, but emerging open platforms like Roblox, which recently debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, are also worth noting [1].

With the number of gamers propelled to 2.7 billion by the pandemic [2] gaming is no longer a niche activity. Consumers are looking for ways to pass the time and it shows in the data. According to Nielsen over 80% of global consumers played video games and watched video game content during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020 [3].

This behavioural shift is not limited to PC and console gamers. Mobile gaming is also on the rise thanks to casual players who are drawn to games with strong social features [4].

With more than 40% of new gamers saying that they’re likely to continue to play [5] brands are uniquely positioned to harness the sociability of this new channel. 

This opportunity is not reserved only for big guns like Nike which can invest resources into creating Jordan-inspired game mode featuring exclusive branded skins [6]. Even if you don’t have resources to organize a large-scale virtual event with the likes of Fortnite or sponsor an e-sport team there are other ways to get noticed by the gamers. Guerilla marketing tactics like using QR codes to distribute branded in-game merchandise can be just as effective. And not only to fashion brands. Check out Skinclusive Summer Line created by Gillette Venus [7] or digital makeup options offered by Givenchy [8].

If you want to take it to the next level why not recreate your store in Animal Crossing as a lockdown getaway for your consumers [9]? It can also be a restaurant for fans hungry for that Kentucky Fried Chicken experience [10]. You can also go Hellman’s route and create a purpose-driven campaign: if the user brings spoiled in-game turnips to Hellman’s island, the brand will donate real food to charity and help feed those in need [11]. Why? Because Hellman’s believes food is too good to be wasted. Even virtual food. And on top of that, you get Hellman’s version of ugly Christmas jumper. Possibilities are endless and these are just examples from one gaming platform.