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Research Shows A Third Of Gamers Discover New Brands While Playing

Research by Wunderman Thompson and Censuswide shows the huge potential for brands to sell inside virtual worlds

Brand research by Wunderman Thompson and Censuswide
Brand research by Wunderman Thompson and Censuswide

A third of gamers discover new brands while playing, and 56% are more likely to purchase from a brand that features in their favourite game, according to new research. And as many as 81% of players would be prepared to buy fashion items inside their games.

Technology consultancy Wunderman Thompson commissioned independent researchers Censuswide to speak to over 2,000 UK gamers. They discovered that real-world purchasing decisions and brand loyalties are often heavily influenced both by games themselves and the endorsements of streamers.  

The influencer of streamers

With gamers spending an average of almost £300 on their home setup, and the majority spending money on in-game items such as cosmetics and skins, there seems to be significant potential for brands to use games – and the nascent metaverse – to reach consumers. The online games community remains a powerful marketing tool as well. As many as 33% of respondents said they’d bought something their favourite streamer recommended or used.

Additionally, the distinction between offline and online identities is blurred for many players, with 65% putting the same importance on looking good in-game as they do in real life.

The influence of marketing goes both ways – 49% of gamers said they wished their favourite brands existed in-game so they could purchase products for their avatar. And over half wished they could buy items from games in the physical world.

The researchers also focused on specific types of product to see what gamers would be willing to spend money on in-game, with fashion coming top at 81% of respondents. The connection consumers see between their digital image and real-world identity naturally has enormous potential for this sector, and many luxury brands are already capitalising on this, from Louis Vuitton in League of Legends to Marc Jacobs in Animal Crossing. But high street retailers also see the opportunities: Forever 21 just launched a store in Roblox and Uniqlo released a collection with Riot Games earlier this year.

Looking good on and offline

A third of gamers discover new brands while playing, but it’s more than just fashion. Technology, food and drink, music and jewellery were all of interest to gamers too. The research showed 70% or more of respondents would be prepared to spend money on these products in digital form. A recent example of this kind of activation in the US was the Halloween 2021 Chipotle burrito giveaway in Roblox. Players could enjoy a free digital burrito in-game and get a promo code for a real-life lunch at the same time – although the company later had to deny any link with a subsequent outage that threw the game offline for over 48 hours

Either way, it’s clear that consumers are now looking to have the best of both worlds when it comes to expressing their identity through brands. The researchers conclude the report by advising that ‘products need to be both physical and digital,’ because in 2021, ‘your consumer is both a physical and digital entity’.

Written By

Roz Tuplin is a gaming, arts and tech writer and copy editor. She also works in business development at Games London. You'll spot her in the MCV 30 Under 30, GamesIndustry.biz 100 Future Talent and 100 Influential Women In Games.

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