Pooja Yadav

iQOO's CGO hunt a strategy to attract youngsters?

The brand has received over 60,000 applications from young gamers across India for the post of ‘chief gaming officer’.

iQOO, a Vivo group brand, is searching for gamers below 25 years of age for the post of chief gaming officer (CGO). It will be offering a remuneration of Rs 10 lakh for a six-month period.

The brand is looking to ignite a gaming revolution in India by opening the doors for the post of the youngest CGO in the country. What made the brand come up with this new position? How will a ‘young’ gamer help iQOO to grow?

Nipun Marya, CEO of iQOO, says that the most important pillar of the brand’s business strategy, is e-sports/gaming.

“We spoke to multiple people during our consumer research. We feel that iQOO is uniquely positioned right now. When we looked at the average range of consumers across brands, we found that the number of students is proportionally much higher in iQOO. The average age of employees is much younger in iQOO, than other brands. iQOO tends to attract younger people.”

Marya adds that the most important aspect to build the brand, is through co-creation. Last year, the iQOO Connect community was launched, to explore the world of technology, innovations, e-sports, and more. The brand started the community to co-create with young people.

Hence, by combining these pillars, this campaign of CGO is a very strategic and natural one for the brand, Marya mentions.

“This bold initiative represents our commitment to enhancing mobile gaming and fostering the growth of aspiring talent in the industry.”

As per an EY survey, the number of online gamers in India was 421 million in 2022, and is expected to reach 442 million by 2023. Of these, 90-100 million are frequent gamers. Transaction-based game revenues increased by 39% in 2022, as compared to 2021, crossing the Rs 100 billion mark.

More and more gamers are moving from casual to serious game-play that has resulted in higher in-app purchases. 45% of respondents spent over an hour per game playing session. Further, despite working from the office, almost 50% of respondents spent more time on game-play, indicating a growing appetite for serious gaming, the EY report says.

Marya shares that the brand has three phone series - Z series (TG 18-21), Neo series (21-25) and flagship series (25-30). The first two contributed 95-97% to the brand’s business. The TG/buyers of these series, are below 25 years of age.

“Over a long-term, hiring a CGO from the same TG (Gen Z) will help to enhance the gaming experience.”

iQOO has so far received over 60,000 applications for the CGO post from young gamers across more than 500 towns and cities. The hunt is now into phase two, which will be followed by offline gaming sessions and jury interviews. The brand will announce the name of its new CGO by mid-July.

As a part of its CGO hunt, the brand has recruited Mithilesh Pattanker, popularly known as ‘Mythpat’, and Rannvijay Singha to evaluate and select the right candidate.

While Mythpat comes from a gaming background, the same can’t be said about Singha. So, why did the brand select Singha to be a part of the jury?

Marya mentions, “The brand’s decision to select Singha, can be attributed to several influential factors. First, his experience on famous reality shows showcases his ability to assess different personalities who can handle leadership tasks.”

“Besides that, it is important to note that Singha himself is an avid gamer. His reputation and popularity, derived from his previous ventures and accomplishments, bring prestige and trust to the evaluation of the perfect candidate.”

Speaking about the challenges involved in the CGO hunt, Marya states, “We never thought we’d get 60,000-plus entries. The whole scale of doing a campaign like this, the first of its kind in India, is unimaginable. The biggest challenge is to pick the right person for the role.”

The brand’s media spends are only towards digital mediums.

It is important for a mobile phone brand like iQOO to stand out, from an advertising viewpoint.

“The core philosophy of how we’re building our brand, is to come up with an idea that is unique and relevant to our TG. Just like our CGO hunt, for which we received 60,000-plus entries, without investing any money on it. We just put forward the idea right and everything else just follows,” says Marya.

The brand has also launched a digital campaign, titled ‘Sleepless Star’ and featuring actor Dulquer Salmaan, for its new Neo 7 Pro smartphone.

The campaign, conceptualised by iQOO and Schbang, shows how Salmaan gives in to his temptation and starts using the iQOO Neo 7 Pro smartphone placed next to him. He becomes completely captivated by its hi-tech features. As he immerses himself into the device, he discovers a new form of ‘tech therapy’.

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