Tuning into Generation Twitch: what sets the youthful audience for gaming and livestreaming apart
A new audience segment is emerging within young adults: Generation Twitch which spreads across millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha. Brand owners ought to pay attention to what unites this audience — a greater focus on diversity, inclusivity, and authenticity.
Cracking the code to address a youthful digitally native audience — including Gen Z, Gen Alpha and late millennials — has been a challenge for the marketing community. Compared to previous generations such as Generation X, the boomers and even the early millennials, there are significant differences in the media that this audience consumes, the entertainment that they gravitate towards, and their expectations from brands and marketing.
They are also too important an audience for brand owners to ignore. A 2020 study from McKinsey estimated that Gen Z would account for 25% of Asia’s population by 2025. Gen Z is expected to drive social change and conversation for the next 15 years, and are estimated to earn $7 trillion at present - with disposable income pegged at $360 billion. By 2030, they are expected to earn $33 trillion, accounting for over a quarter of the world’s earning potential.
Introducing Generation Twitch
At the recently concluded Campaign Gamechangers conference, there were several discussions among brand marketers and ad agencies on ways in which they could connect with the world of gaming — a huge passion point for this audience — to deploy marketing campaigns.
In a presentation at the event, Jan Bojko, director of client insights and measurement APAC, and Gemma Battenbough, brand partnership studio lead for APAC at Twitch introduced a new way of thinking about young adults who are united by their love for gaming and livestreaming. They called this segment Generation Twitch: an audience comprising millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
To discover what sets Generation Twitch apart, Twitch conducted a multimodal research including a semiotic study: qualitative focus groups with its core audience as well as a 6000-person quantitative survey across the globe including key APAC markets like Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Australia.
The research reveals that five behaviours which were previously considered to be the defining characteristics of the youthful audience are losing ground. As Gen Z and Gen Alpha take over from the millennials, new cultural codes are starting to emerge, including being authentic, fluid, inclusive, collaborative and purposeful.
Battenbough explained what these shifts entail and provided examples of how marketers have successfully launched campaigns aimed at Generation Twitch.
From curated to authentic: Generation Twitch has come of age in an era where fake news is rampant and truth under attack. Battenbough said, “There’s a realisation that even influencers, no matter how relatable, use technology to curate an experience and lifestyle that is often unattainable.”
As a result, this audience craves authentic experiences.
What this means for brands: Among Twitch viewers, 75% agree that what’s being showcased on the service is authentic, with genuine, unvarnished moments of emotion or drama. Battenbough said, “Generation Twitch show up online as their true selves and expect brands to follow suit. The best practice is to show your human side and embrace the spontaneity and candour of live streaming. Ultimately, that builds trust.”
McDonald’s wanted to emphasise the spiciness quotient of its newly launched Chicken McCrispy in Singapore. Considering the huge overlap of audience between McDonald’s customers and gamers, the company worked with Singapore-based gamer /JulynnLau to do a live taste test of Chicken McCrispy. A key component of the livestream was to showcase Chicken McCrispy and its key attributes — crispy, juicy, and tender. Julynn’s live taste test treated her viewers to an audio and visual sensory showcase, while sharing her own real time opinions on the product’s spiciness to fuel the #TheSpicyDebate conversation, along with a short poll with her viewers conducted via chat.
From fixed to fluid: Generation Twitch switches effortlessly between digital and real worlds. The young adults who form this audience believe that digital worlds enhance real-life experiences. They want to see this interactivity in advertising as well.
What this means for brands: Battenbough said, “We advise advertisers to really lean into live streaming and the technologies that it enables and to be creative.”
HoYoverse, the publisher of open-world role playing game Genshin Impact wanted to publicise a new update that vastly expanded the playable areas within the game. In partnership with HoYoverse, Twitch brought the game’s beloved mascot, a non-playable character (NPC) called Paimon into the live streams of gamers from across the world who were playing Genshin Impact. In the game, Paimon offers a gamer within Genshin Impact suggestions that enhance their knowledge and experience, and Twitch wanted the character to play a similar role within a live stream. With a custom Twitch extension, streamers and viewers were able to work together to unlock rewards within Genshin Impact and also familiarise themselves with its new content.
From exclusivity to inclusivity: VIP experiences and exclusivity are giving way to being able to access the same entertainment, education, art, or culture irrespective of wealth or geography.
What this means for brands: With 78% of Twitch viewers believing it is really a diverse community, brand owners ought to be open to featuring a broader variety of creators in their campaigns.
Battenbough said, “By working with a diverse creator, you don’t just reach their audience and demographic specifically, but with everyone who connects with that content and identifies as a gamer.”
In gaming, diversity goes beyond real world constructs like gender and demographics to actual content, given the many different types of games. Besides a multiplicity of gaming options, there are also musicians and a variety of other content creators and talent who are gravitating towards the service. The audience on Twitch has changed over the last couple of years with musicians, chess players and even fishermen coming on board, all bringing in their own viewers.
From passive to active collaboration: Unlike traditional media, which is passively consumed, live streaming is a collective experience. With large sections of the audience having come of age during the pandemic, they value connections and a sense of closeness.
What this means for brands: To build loyalty, brands need to not only align with the values of the community, but also be of value to it. Battenbough said, “Brands should go beyond passive push style interactions and involve the community in creating an experience, which requires handing over a bit of control.”
To drive awareness of its ZOWIE monitor, consumer electronics brand BenQ worked with three gaming streamers — /bunnychannel_ from Korea, /ta1yo_tv from Japan, and /foxzfoxzfoxz from Thailand - all of whom have a large following on Twitch. Starting with an unboxing video, the promotion allowed the Twitch streamers to pick a squad from among their fanbase to play a popular first person shooting game. Through the course of the stream, the Twitch streamers emphasised some of the key features of the Zowie monitor and how it helped with their gameplay.
From disengaged to purposeful: Generation Twitch is purpose driven – having raised money for childhood cancer via Pokémon tournaments and embracing games that generate awareness around climate change.
What this means for brands: With 74% of the audience on Twitch believing that it is a community supportive of causes, the best practice is to invite engagement through collaborations with creators who share a brand’s sense of purpose.
The Singapore National Library Board (NLB) collaborated with a Singapore-based Twitch streamer /CloverOfficial to promote the National Reading Movement campaign and to encourage adoption of its mobile app. Dispelling the notion that gaming and reading are at odds with each other, /CloverOfficial kicked off the stream and gave an introduction of NLB and her memories of visiting the library as a child. During a stream of Genshin Impact, she spoke about learnings from a current read — Ready Player One by Ernest Cline — and how it was helping her with combat and exploration within the universe of the game.
Connecting with Generation Twitch
The connection between brands and Generation Twitch has just begun and making an early start will yield rich dividends. While a lot of the marketers reaching out to Generation Twitch are from categories that have an immediate connect to a youthful audience such as consumer products companies, fast food chains and firms that specialise in gaming peripherals, there is a case to be made for a wider array of products and services – including financial institutions, telcos and retail outlets — making a play for these consumers.
To know more about how your brand can forge meaningful effective connections with Generation Twitch, please contact [email protected]