Thanks to over 100 million adult “active gamers” with an average age of 35, video sales in the U.S., an estimated $9.5 billion reported by NPD in 2007, are bigger than movie sales worldwide.
A recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News (http://www.nrn.com) written by Gregg Cebrzynski (http://www.nrn.com/article.aspx?id=359428&clearMenu=true) piqued my interest.
The piece indicated that chains in their quest to seize a larger share of the 18-to-34 year-old demographic are targeting video games for ad placements to build brand awareness and loyalty. Pizza Hut pioneered the strategy back in 2005 with a limited time promotion that achieved great success – online gamers were able to order pizza via the EverQuest II game they were playing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:EverQuest-Pizza-Hut-promotion.jpg). Numerous chain leaders like Burger King, Sonic, Subway and McDonald’s have also jumped on the bandwagon. Some have gone to the extent to partake in advergaming, the practice of using a video game, usually in the form of a free online game to advertise a product like Taco Bell’s “Taco Fu” (http://www.tacobell.com/tacofu/). On the whole, marketing research has confirmed that gamers, especially the targeted 18-to-34 year-old crowds are responding positively to video game ad placements.
Innovative marketing strategy! However, chain marketers need to open their eyes and realize that they are reaching a broader target market. Time to debunk the myth that a majority of the gamers are 18-to-34 year-olds. Here are some quick facts:
· Entertainment Software Association reports that the gamers average age is 35, up from age 24, the number they reported back in 2002. The original gamers have been playing video games for 13 years and are maturing.
· The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is now 40 years old.
· People over 50 comprise 26% of all gamers!
· One of the fastest growing groups is Moms over 45. Why? They have time on their hands, plus it has become a great way to bond with their kids. They are a major contributor to the fact that over 100 million adults are now considered active “gamers.”
Since the target audience is broader and more mature than the coveted 18-to-34 year old prospective diners, chains need to re-evaluate their messaging and product offerings to fully capitalize on the gamer community. The older, video gamers are not going to be interested in conquering other worlds, the ongoing battle between good vs. evil, etc. They are going to demand real world skill building situations. Sims a game that simulates a family’s daily living; worldwide is the leading selling PC game in history. Chain advertising messaging should mirror real world challenges. Healthier eating comes to mind. What a great opportunity to devise a game that also communicates healthier menu options like salads, vegetarian product offerings (e.g., veggie burgers) or even organic foods.
Bottomline: Gaming has expanded its demographic boundaries into the mainstream. As a result American grown-ups are staying Forever Young.