Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West, Eric Huml, CMO of Advanced.gg, said, “Esports is going crazy. It’s booming. We see it in our numbers and our sales, and I see it in all the new business coming in.”
The company started about four years ago with powdered supplements for the esports community and put Nutrition 21’s nooLVL (bonded arginine silicate combined with an additional dose of inositol) at the center of their formulations. nooLVL has been studied specifically in an esports setting (Tartar et al. Nutrients, 2019, 11(10), 2326).
“What Nutrition 21 did with nooLVL, they did something that no one else was doing before them. They came in a did a real clinical study on esports athletes: Fortnite was in it, Call of Duty, Madden. That was cutting edge at the time,” said Huml.
“There are other brands that have dabbled into that in terms of branded ingredients. There’s still a lot that can be done: You can go further with the studies, more specific with the studies. Again, it comes down to speaking to someone who knows the industry really well and finding out what esports athletes actually want. Something specific like, “Will this improve my sniper headshots in Call of Duty?” Something specific like that.”
Authenticity is key
Brands looking to get into the esports space need to understand the consumer, and it’s much more than just gamers, said Huml.
“It’s not really just gaming or esports, its digital entertainment or internet culture, culture being the key word. It’s a big, big space, but at the same time it’s a tight knit space where there could be millions of people but they’re flocking together and that’s through the power of social media,” he said.
“Having those systems in place allows that to form. And entering into it, you have to be authentic or otherwise you’re just going to stand out. It’s a space that has its own language: They talk in memes, in ‘internet culture lingo’. If you don’t know that lingo, then you’re going to stand out a lot and you’re going to be made fun of. What I recommend to brands entering the space are hire a consultant, or become the space: Play the games, go to the conventions.”
The company has had a rapid rise over the past several years, having seen an opportunity for that category before many other.
“Before we entered the space about four years ago, it was mostly regular energy drinks, which is really just flavored caffeine,” explained Huml. “There was a brand that really paved the way for brands like us that had a powdered supplement, and they’re still around today, but they didn’t really bring a real supplement into the space, it was really just an energy drink in powdered form.
“We saw an opening: There were no major brands in the space that were making products at the level that the fitness or health and wellness space was. What I mean by that is having clinically-dosed ingredients, transparent labels, active ingredients that have clinical studies behind them such as nooLVL that we use in our products. Nobody was doing that at the time.
“But now there are tons of brands: Functionals, actives, just like in the health and wellness or sports supplement space.”
So, what’s next for the brand? Advanced.gg recently got into the RTD space, said Huml. “We definitely want to go heavy into the beverage space. The convenience of an RTD is where it’s at.”