Gamers seek relevant, substantiated productsGamers seek relevant, substantiated products
For brands looking to enter the esports nutrition marketplace, several consumer and formulation considerations should be addressed to help support success in the fickle-yet-booming segment.
April 20, 2023
Hello, friends. For brands looking to enter the gaming nutrition marketplace, there are several consumer and formulation considerations to learn and address for any chance of success in this fickle segment.
My goal is to deliver the following to you:
• Highlight several formula creation strategies currently used by supplement companies when developing a product for the esports community;
• Outline key considerations supplement companies SHOULD be utilizing when designing their product formulas for the esports community;
The first ”must” is understanding this specific consumer. You can Google their demographics if you’re curious, but what I think is important to mention here is that the esports community is, obviously, rather tech savvy. They know how to do things like use a search engine, discern real from fake reviews on Amazon and read a scientific abstract.
Gamers make use of these skills before they even consider buying a new product to answer the question, “Will this product actually do what it promises?”
With today’s cancel culture, supplement companies marketing to the esports community are forced to be as transparent as possible. Transparency carries a risk, and the product itself needs to be bulletproof. If not, this population will smell it out, boycott your product and make sure others do too. There have been a few mainstream examples of this over the last few years.
The best way to create a bulletproof supplement formula is to base it on current best evidence in the scientific literature. Unfortunately, this is not what we see happening in most cases.
Here are the four most common approaches I see supplement companies making that the esports community is fully aware of and on the lookout for:
Approach #1: The Lazy
Some companies have a product that works OK-ish—not egregiously bad, but also definitely not based on current best scientific evidence. These companies tend to focus their budget on marketing and partnerships. The product also probably either tastes good or makes consumers quickly feel good (like caffeine-based products).
Normally such companies do not have products that are intended to be consumed long-term, because they are banking on the immediate positive feedback from either the taste or feeling.
On their websites, you’ll be hard-pressed to find specific details about how they created their formula, let alone a single scientific reference. You’ll probably see a generic statement of benefits.
This approach can be successful but is risky due to the lack of transparency and suspect formulas.
Approach 2: The One that Assumes the Consumer is Lazy
These companies are normally doing at least one of these two things.
1. Throw a bunch of buzzword ingredients together (clever way to boost SEO, I’ll give them that). The amount of each ingredient? “Who cares, just get them in there.” The attitude is that the consumer has no idea what an effective dose is anyway.
2. Put a laundry list of scientific references directly on the website to give an air of credibility to the product, with the explicit hope that the consumer never actually investigates the studies. Why? Because the references are tenuous at best.
As one intentionally anonymous example, a popular esports nootropic supplement lists 28 references on their website for their product. The website itself highlights 34 active ingredients as making up the ‘secret sauce’ for this product. That’s not even a single reference per ingredient!
But it gets worse:
- Due to duplicate references for some ingredients, there are only 18 unique ingredients listed, barely more than half!
- Seven of the studies had obviously bad populations (usually elderly or clinical) and have no business being used to substantiate a product for gamers, most of whom are in younger generations.
- Six of the studies were investigating something completely irrelevant to their marketing claims (such as endurance performance).
This left only 15 studies that could be worth clicking, of which there were only seven unique ingredients being cited; this means only 20% of their formula is potentially demonstrating some proof.
They’re really hoping the consumer won’t even read the titles of the references.
Approach #3: The USP
Brands use compounds that have been specifically investigated in esports athletes and gamers. They love to use it as an advertising claim, and they put all the info front and center on their product and website. That one ingredient might be solid, but they need to be careful the rest of the formula is similarly held to a high standard.
This excerpt is from our esports digital magazine. Click the link to continue reading about the final two approach groups Thomas covers—the “try-hards” and “noncancellable”—and the importance of clinical studies in product development.
Casey Thomas, RDN, owns Gamer Diet and works as a performance dietitian, writer and instructor. His unique research background has allowed him to implement protocols that have facilitated significant improvements in body composition, health and performance among athletes. Thomas has consulted with professional athletes and Olympians, esports programs, universities and businesses looking to gain a performance edge. Currently he’s focused on esports, working to bring high-level, research-backed performance nutrition to the gaming world.
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