eSports is more than playing digital games online. With an estimated market value of $104 million in 2017, it is a multi-billion industry that both traditional and tech companies are pursuing in China. It is about networking, with millions of people watching contests online at a same time, and about a new way for brands to get closer to Chinese millennial, a demographic many find tricky to connect to. Behind the momentum is both digital sophistication and a maturing internet ecosystem in China. Yet to continue expanding, the industry is facing the difficulty of finding an entrance for traditional sports like soccer and basketball.
For most of human history, integrating a new generation into society has been pretty straightforward: The youngsters were shown what needed to be done, they did it as well as they could (or faced serious consequences if they didn’t), and, over time, earned a place for themselves in society. But things are different now. Executives all over the world have reported that they have difficulty not only managing this new generation but even understanding them. These young employees, their managers say, are responding differently from prior generations to everything, from assignments to incentives. Can managers cope with a new generation?
China’s millennials are an increasingly complex demographic, who as well as enjoying the fruits of China’s reform and opening up are also beset by all manner of societal and economic pressures, making them arguably much more different from their parents than their Western counterparts are from theirs. From an ever tougher job market to unobtainable home prices, millennials have to navigate a world with less security than was enjoyed by previous generations, all amidst slowing economic growth, to boot. And the many companies looking to sell to this increasingly important generation of consumers will have to grapple with all these issues, too.