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Why many marketers are missing out on the Gen Z and Gen Alpha crowd

Why many marketers are missing out on the Gen Z and Gen Alpha crowd

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One area that APAC advertisers and marketers can leverage on to engage with Gen Z and Gen Alpha individuals is through gaming platforms, which nearly half of both groups cite as their go-to oasis for feeling less anxious and stressed in a digital world. More specifically, half of Gen Alpha (50%) across the region and 47% of Gen Z individuals in Singapore and Indonesia turn to gaming to feel better mentally. Vietnam has the highest percentage of youth that turn to gaming at 60%, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines tying for second place at 56%, according to TotallyAwesome’s Youth-first Digital Insights Study.

In fact, the APAC region is home to more than half or 53% of the world’s gaming population and has experienced a 5.7% YoY growth, as stated by Newzoo’s 2023 Global Games Market Report. Despite access to multiple media platforms, youth in the APAC region are increasingly placing more value on gaming as compared to other channels when building social connections.

Given the large gaming market in APAC and its influence on Gen Alpha and Gen Z individuals, marketers are not allocating their budgets to this space proportionally, say industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to.

"Current data says a third of the world's gamers are right here in Asia, but the investment in the same is way behind these impressive figures. The IAB worldwide survey shows the percentage of budgets allocated to gaming to be only 7%," said Robert Gaxiola, head of creative, Southeast Asia and India, Ampverse. "From what we know in SEA, the number is well under 5% of their budgets,” he added

What is holding them back?

Gaxiola explains that sometimes it isn't clear how or where the brands can actually come in. Nonetheless, its heartening to see a shift as slowly clients are stating to indicate active strategies to ease into the space softly to gather data, learn then build on their own fan base.

"Serious marketers are looking for something beyond sponsorship on a jersey. But they are not sure where to start or how to even measure success," he said.  These days, brands armed with a clear objective and a clear strategy can calculate more than just raw eyeballs. Depending upon their objective, they can measure engagement, conversions or the elusive ROI. 

At other times, the answer appears to lie in the inertia that marketers face before entering the gaming market.

“This hesitancy often stems from a lack of understanding among marketers about the intricacies of the industry and the strategies needed to effectively engage with this unique audience,” said Thong Kai Xuan, COO, GosuGamers.

Don't miss: Ampverse acquires SG-based gaming startup to strengthen tech development

Thong also said that a majority of brands are allocating less than 10% of their total budgets towards investing in the gaming market. What makes the gaming market promising yet daunting to enter, is its distinct market segments, diverse gaming genres, robust consumer purchasing power and associated lifestyle traits, Thong explained.

Agreeing with Thong is Jamie Lewin managing partner and chief strategy officer at Mana Partners, who said that there's a "wholesale lack of domain knowledge" about which games, or facets of gaming culture, that are appropriate for a marketer's brand and their audiences.

Different types of gamers engage with games differently and will benefit from differentiated marketing strategies.

These strategies could be rewarded videos and in-game media who appreciate the focus and simplicity of solo play of games such as Candy Crush, Lewin said. On the other hand, individuals who enjoy playing with friends on games such as Mobile Legends while watching and following associated creators would respond well to brand partnerships with a leading game publisher.

An authentic appeal and seamless presence

When it comes to engaging with the gaming market, Gaxiola, encourages marketers to be more strategic, creative, and innovative in their methodology. “One tactic in gaming and esports media is to use a KOL campaign. These KOLs are not always players, but casters or personalities in the gaming scene or fans of one particular game - and their following is sometimes enormous,” Gaxiola explained.

He also said that it is important for brands to stay true to themselves and look beyond the top games to find lesser-known independent games that could be a better fit. For example, he added, McDonalds would not pair well with a first-person shooter game like PUBG or a more classic fighting game such as Mortal Kombat due to its family-friendly branding. Instead, its pairing with more community oriented games such as Mobile Legends and Fortnight are more suitable.

Adding on to Gaxiola’s point, Lewin encourages brands think like a game publisher and have long-term engagement, structure their campaigns around gaming seasons that are punctuated by special releases for collectables and content, known as “drops”. He added:

Commitment, consistency and participation over perfection are the behavioural keys to perceived authenticity. Every player is on a journey, and they'll respect you being on one too.

The untapped potential of female gamers

Interestingly, TotallyAwesome’s study also revealed that gaming is now becoming nearly gender-neutral with 46% of girls and 54% of boys in Gen Alpha finding solace in gaming. Despite the growing number of women who engage in gaming and streaming as a career, few participate in competitive gaming, explained Thong.

“While brand sponsors frequently back male-centric tournaments, there is a noticeable dearth of opportunities for women's tournaments,” she explained.

Additionally, Gaxiola added that female representation in games is garnering momentum with game publishers providing female and alternative characters with great in-game capability and power. In fact, Legend of Zelda became on of the top-selling games of 2023 while having a female heroine.

“And there is no stigma about male players choosing a female character in-game because the characters are chosen strategically for their power, skill or speed,” he said.

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Related articles:
Study: Asia Pacific the world's largest gaming market with significant portion of Gen Alpha and Gen Z users
McDonald's SG partners Mobile Legends League with Chicken McCrispy challenge
Netflix ramping up its gaming offerings: What more can be done for breakthrough?

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