AstaReal, BENEO and GELITA highlight the emerging market’s potential for food and dietary supplement manufacturers
E-sports is booming. No longer a niche market, it generated revenue of more than $950 million in 2019.
COVID-19 has further spurred its development: market research company Nielsen has noticed a significant increase in gamer numbers as a result of the pandemic — most notably in the USA, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Germany.1
In the field of sports nutrition and energy drinks, in particular, the gaming community is an important target group. As with other athletes, performance and endurance are key for e-athletes — and manufacturers of functional foods and nutritional supplements can tap into new audiences here.
Just like in traditional sports, e-athletes have to be able to perform at their best during competitions; the expectations of sponsors and fans are huge ... and so are the athletes’ demands on their own performance.
Thus, many gamers are looking for products with additional health benefits and scientific backing. They have diverse requirements — from better concentration and reactivity to the prevention of wear and tear.
e-Athletes often suffer from back and neck pain, fatigue, headache and irritated eyes, or have problems with the tendons and ligaments in their hands.
Oliver Wolf, Head of B2B Marketing (Global) at GELITA, says: “The gaming nutrition market offers great potential. There are still relatively few products in this area, compared with the myriad of e-athlete demands."
"For manufacturers of sports nutrition products and dietary supplements, this represents numerous opportunities to position themselves and their products successfully. Our Bioactive Collagen Peptides (BCP) TENDOFORTE have, for instance, been scientifically tested for years in the field of sports nutrition and are equally suitable for use in the e-sports sector.”
Studies confirm that the specific collagen peptides stimulate collagen-rich cells in the body’s tendons and ligaments to produce collagen. In this way, “gamer’s thumb” — a common joint problem in e-sports enthusiasts caused by overstrain — can be prevented effectively.
Andie Long, Marketing and Sales Manager at AstaReal, adds: “Many games also require an enormous degree of tactical understanding, quick judgment and heightened attention span. An e-athlete’s diet should therefore be similar to that of other competitive sportspeople and include nutrients such as natural astaxanthin, which improves concentration as well as physical and mental fatigue.”
Astaxanthin from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is one of those rare antioxidants that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
According to clinical studies, AstaReal astaxanthin contributes to better concentration, memory and mental agility. In addition, it is able to alleviate the unpleasant side-effects of prolonged screen time, such as irritated eyes.
Studies from the German Sport University Cologne prove that e-sport is just as demanding as other sports.2 The amount of cortisol produced in gamers is about the same as that found in race-car drivers.
This is combined with a high pulse rate — sometimes as high as 160–180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to a very fast run. Gamers’ energy demands are also comparable with that of endurance athletes.
Functional drinks, bars and snacks can help them to concentrate and stay relaxed during stressful situations.
The alternative sugar Palatinose (generic name: isomaltulose) scores high in formulations for this target group, as it delivers balanced and sustained energy from carbohydrates … without the typical “sugar crash” performance slump.
Palatinose is completely yet gradually broken down throughout the entire small intestine. Thus, glucose enters the blood more slowly and blood sugar levels remain low.
Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director at BENEO, explains: “Many manufacturers continue to rely on their products delivering a quick kick via rapidly available carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, sucrose or glucose syrup in combination with caffeine or taurine."
"However, this is suboptimal if you need power for a longer period of time and have to remain focused. Carbohydrates such as Palatinose, by contrast, offer a balanced supply of glucose as energy source. In addition, scientists have found that the special way Palatinose provides energy can enhance a person’s mood and memory skills.”
Whether it’s energy or sports drinks, shots, sachets, capsules, gummies or functional foods, the possible dosage forms for e-athlete nutrition are diverse.
Holistic solutions are also a very promising route for this target group, says Oliver Wolf: “Concepts with several ingredients that are geared towards the different needs of gamers and that complement each other will prevail in the future.”
Andie Long agrees: “From prevention to performance optimisation to better regeneration, numerous positionings and combinations of active ingredients are possible. Product ranges that specifically support gamers before, during and after competition also can be developed.”
Thomas Schmidt adds: “Even if not all gamers pursue their hobby at a competitive level, the fact that premium names such as BMW, SAP, Pringles and Volvic sponsor e-sports teams and virtual soccer leagues makes it clear how important this sector has become."
"The global audience for e-sports included approximately 443 million people in 2019. And many manufacturers are already successfully using branding that specifically targets gamers.”
Andie Long, Marketing and Sales Manager at AstaReal, Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director at BENEO, and Oliver Wolf, Head of B2B Marketing (Global) at GELITA.