Headline | January 8, 2016

Are We Reaching The End Of The Curve

Henry-352x446A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at the eGR Future Digital Summit. Apart from the opportunity to share my views on how you should grow brands in a digital age it also gave me the opportunity to spend some time with various gaming companies on a one-to-one basis.

Throughout the various conversations, there was a continuous theme that struck me – the realisation that the phenomenal growth of this market is starting to slow significantly, the major players are consolidating and we are probably reaching the top of the growth curve. More worryingly though was the overall lack of understanding on what to do next. More of the same won’t work, especially within an established category where share of voice (SOV) no longer becomes the defining factor for growth.

Times like these lead you to look at other sectors and trends that are driving growth. The most obvious of which is the concept of authenticity. In a world where brands are now instantly judged by their prospective customers and people are becoming impermeable to marketing ‘bullshit’, authenticity can be great way out. You only have to look at the growth of craft beers within the beer market to understand its power, but could the same be true of the gaming industry? The initial gut reaction is‘no’.

How could authenticity act as a growth driver in a sector that is ridden with lookalike acquisition tactics and limited brand loyalty? But when you think about it, there might be something in it: 1. Authenticity is much easier to achieve if you have a product that has some real world qualities that the competitors don’t have. The recent pace setters have demonstrated this clearly through exploiting the power of an exchange, owning in-play betting, or instigating live cash out and instant price boost mechanisms. These are all clear points of differentiation that helped drive authenticity for a few key brands. 2. Authenticity also requires a brand to act with meaningfulness and understand how it can add value to people’s lives.

This is where it gets harder. At Havas, we run our own study in brand meaningfulness and how much people actually care about brands. In 2015 consumers in the UK stated that only 28% of brands are believed to add to our quality of life and wellbeing (no gaming brand is represented in this 28%), and more worryingly most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared
for good (a number of gaming brands included). Would you really expect a gaming brand to be in this 28% – no not really but there is an opportunity here for the sector to think differently.
I believe that this sector is not impervious to authenticity – it’s too big an influence across everything else customers do to ignore.

Winning here is not about being ‘good’ but it is about adding a distinctive value to customer’s lives through innovation, improving experiences and acting with integrity. Something that is even stronger if it’s wrapped up within a brand proposition that is differentiated and valued by customers. The operators that get this right will win. For those that don’t, the wave of authenticity that is influencing so many other categories is very bad news.

2016 will be an interesting year, we will wait to see which operators break from the pack to build a meaningful brand and ultimately share within a market where the growth is inevitably slowing

Published on EGRmagazine