Group of friends playing video games

How Food and Beverage Manufacturers Can Level Up in the eSports Market

The eSports market, forecast to reach $1.8 billion by 20221, has become a global phenomenon with international tournaments, professional gamers, sponsors, merchandise, and more. Gamers, known for their brand loyalty and strength as influencers on social media, remain a largely untapped market for food and beverage manufacturers.

Learn how products like G FUEL—The Official Energy Drink of ESports—are addressing the unique needs of gamers and how your company can get in the game, too!

The Growing eSports Market

Investment in the eSports market was up to $4.5b in 2018, driven by growth in sponsorships, consumer products and advertisements at gaming events.2 Key stakeholders in the eSports market include video game publishers, event venues, media outlets, and online streaming companies. As the number of eSports spectators continues to increase, advertisers are taking notice.

Man at computer playing game

Gamers: Who Are They?

It’s important when marketing to gamers that companies don’t rely on stereotypes to understand their target consumer. As video games have gone mainstream, the young, male “core gamer” has become a much smaller proportion of the total. Gaming has also become multi-generational, with Gen X and Millennial gamers now raising children of their own.

The Entertainment Software Association, which assesses gamer demographics each year, found that 41% of U.S. gamers are women and the average age range of gamers is 34-44.3 For younger male gamers (18-34), 70% say games help them stay connected with friends and family. For older female gamers (35-54), 77% say that games help them to relax. 

Woman using virtual reality glasses

Gamers are known for being brand loyal, more likely to buy premium products, and valuable as influencers on social media—all great reasons for food and beverage companies to take a close look at this market. Video ads or product placement among influencers, especially on twitch and YouTube, are an effective way to reach gamers with your products.

What Are Gamers Looking For in Foods and Beverages?

An energy claim on a food or beverage is no longer the only way to grabbing a gamer’s attention. In fact, if the energy is associated with high amounts of sugar, then the product could actually be a turn off since a serious gamer can’t afford to have a sugar crash. 

The product benefits most likely to appeal to gamers include:

  • Sustained energy
  • Mental focus
  • Eye health
  • Satiety
  • Convenience

Approaches to delivering sustained energy include sugar-free formulas, the use of fiber, and caffeine or other non-stimulant energy sources. To support mental focus, products with some caffeine in them are generally expected, but nutrients like L-theanine and citicoline are increasingly being used in conjunction with caffeine to provide focus without the jitters. Products with lutein and vitamin A can also provide eye health support to these athletes that play on a screen rather than a field. 

Foods and beverages that provide satiety, especially from protein and fiber, are important for long gaming sessions. This goes beyond sustained energy and focus, and makes a strong case for meal replacement products targeting gamers. 

Since convenience is critical for anyone who's in the middle of gaming, product formats such as powdered drink mixes, ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, and bars—anything snackable—tend to work best.

Woman playing video games on the couch

Spotlight on Products

There are already some products out on the market that feature sustained energy & focus specifically for eAthletes and gamers. While energy drinks were certainly the first products to move into the space, brands created just for gaming are utilizing other formats to appeal to consumers who want more than a jolt of energy. 

G FUEL Energy Formula is a powdered drink mix for gamers that promises energy, focus, and endurance. It uses a wide variety of ingredients including an “energy complex” of caffeine and the amino acids taurine, L-citrulline, and L-carnitine plus a “focus complex” of tyrosine, ATP, and bacopa leaf extract. It’s also fortified with several B vitamins and antioxidant fruit powders. For gamers who want even more convenience, G FUEL Energy Crystals provides an edible, dissolve-in-your-mouth format.

Mountain Dew Amp Game Fuel is an RTD beverage that offers alertness and accuracy to gamers and includes ingredients such as caffeine, theanine, ginseng, and B vitamins. Packaging features that address the needs of gamers include textured ink for a better grip and a resealable lid that can be opened and closed with one hand.

German company Runtime makes an RTD beverage for gamers called Performance Drink that contains green tea extract, branched chain amino acids, B vitamins, and isomaltulose instead of sugar. Runtime also offers gamers a meal replacement powder, under the brand name Next Level Meal which can be prepared in just 60 seconds in a shaker bottle. 

Game On

The eSports market is an exciting and growing opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers. To get in the game, turn your pre-workout, beverage or snack into a functional product just for gamers with a custom nutrient premix from Glanbia Nutritionals. A custom nutrient premix can include amino acids, vitamins, botanicals, and more. Learn how a custom nutrient premix can take your products to the next level!

Frequently Asked Questions

A functional beverage is a drink that provides a beneficial effect beyond basic nutrition. These health and wellness benefits can come from a wide range of bioactive ingredients—from adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha to MCTs for the keto diet to tryptophan for sleep support.

Some examples of functional beverages are energy drinks formulated with caffeine and B vitamins, sports drinks with added electrolytes and antioxidants, yogurt drinks that have probiotics, and beauty-from-within beverages containing collagen. The functional beverage market continues to grow as more people look for benefits like energy, relaxation, immune support, cognitive support, muscle building, and more.

Functional foods are foods that provide a health or wellness benefit beyond essential nutrients. While these can include foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients (like MCTs in coconut, beta-glucan fiber in oats, and L-theanine in green tea), functional foods more commonly refer to products that have been fortified with functional ingredients.

Functional ingredients, also known as bioactive ingredients, include certain botanicals, fatty acids, amino acids, fruit and vegetable extracts, and mushrooms, as well as functional fibers and proteins. A sports drink with antioxidants, a cereal with probiotics, and a nutrition bar with turmeric are all examples of functional foods.

The essential micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals the body can’t make enough of, or at all, to support its essential functions. For humans, the essential water-soluble vitamins are vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The essential fat-soluble vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

The essential minerals are categorized as macrominerals or trace minerals, with the latter required by the body in only tiny amounts. The essential macrominerals are calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur, while the essential trace minerals are iron, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, and selenium.

1. Business Insider, eSports Ecosystem Report 2021, January 2020. Retrieved from: 
2. Deloitte, The rise of eSports investments, April 2019. Retrieved from:…;
3. Entertainment Software Association. (2020). Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry. Retrieved from…;

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