In 2019, Honda became the first car brand to launch a branded gaming channel on Twitch. Its Twitch channels have built on the popularity of its models such as the Civic, the number one ranked car with Millennials and Gen Z since 2011. Earlier this year, the brand re-imagined its Twitch channel, launching the Honda DreamLab. In June, Honda entered the metaverse by launching the ‘Hondaverse’ on Twitch.
Honda streamed the launch across three episodes, racking up approximately 2.5 million views. Among Millennial and Gen Z gamers Honda saw statistically significant lifts in three key areas:
- Familiarity: +8%
- Favorability: +10%
- Consideration: +12%
We spoke with Phil Hruska, Media Department Head at Honda, and Acura, to learn how the car brand harnessed the power of Twitch to dream up its metaverse launch.
Measuring metaverse success
As the phrase goes, Rome was not built in a day. Although Honda’s long-term goal for the metaverse is to increase profits, for the first Hondaverse Map, it targeted metrics higher up the funnel.
“Of course, the goal is sales, with first-time car buyers and younger multicultural car buyers. But we also know there are important steps along the way towards the sale. That is where we looked at behavioral and attitudinal metrics including familiarity, favourability, and consideration.”
Honda saw increases in all three:
- Familiarity: +8%
- Favorability: +10%
- Consideration: +12%
Hruska explains how Honda measured these metrics:
“Tracking viewership engagement and upper funnel lifts are vital. To measure this, we compared attitudes between a group of exposed audience members and a control group. We could then see where there was a statistically significant lift.”
Moreover, Honda is already seeing positive signs with impact lower down the funnel.
“Concerning sales, the Civic is the most popular model among this audience. It is the number one in sales to Millennials and Gen Z, multicultural and first-time car buyers – our gaming programming continues to contribute to the Civic’s success with this critical audience.”
These are all positive indicators that Honda is up and running with a first-class metaverse strategy. Less than three months after the first stream, it is already beginning to see a return on investment. Let us run through how Honda created and streamed its first metaverse activation.
A metaverse built on audience input
The Hondaverse launched with the Honda Parkour world, built around the 2023 Honda HR-V. Streamers and players can test their abilities through the parkour runs all created around the Honda HR-V.
The launch took place across three live-streamed episodes on Twitch.
- First episode: Influencer SypherPK introduced the Hondaverse to fans and built out an exclusive Honda “VIP Lounge” within the world based on input by the Twitch community that can be unlocked by earning points.
- Second episode: SypherPK attempted to conquer the Honda Parkour run and challenged his community with Honda Trivia.
- Third episode: Twitch creators and fans played against SypherPK for a chance to win prizes.
Breaking down the Honda launch into three episodes allowed Honda to bring its audience into the creative process and drove engagement even before they got the chance to play the map in Fortnite.
“Running the Hondaverse launch across three episodes gave us more than one bite at the apple. We released it early, got the input, and then had another episode where we invited people to play the game.”
“Twitch also helped us again and suggested we used community engagement to help build the map. They recommended involving the chat on key design elements which meant we could have our car front and center, but still give them a world they loved. Win-win!”
“By helping us make the Hondaverse they became invested. They helped with the choices, so they want to play the final product! Our target community, all talking to one another, excited to play what they’d built. This is what drives familiarity and favorability.”
Product placement in the metaverse
The metaverse is a new medium for product placement. However, purchasing a car naturally involves a high level of commitment. Younger audience members are also skeptical. An aggressive sales strategy would not work. Honda combined audience input with recommendations from its partner, Beyond Creative, on how it could involve the Honda HR-V centerpiece in a way that was fun for the audience.
“They helped us to build the larger-than-life Honda HR-V centerpiece. That was the first question for us. How is the vehicle going to be there? We know people are there to play the game. But we also want them to check out the vehicle. So, we decided on parkour around the huge vehicle.”
Twitch: The Hondaverse’s partner-in-crime
Each of the episodes added value to Honda’s metaverse launch. The Honda DreamLab (evolving from Honda’s Head2Head Twitch gaming channel that launched in 2019), has continued to help Honda connect with gamers and other younger audience members. Accordingly, the Hondaverse would not have seen the improvements in familiarity, favorability, and consideration without its Twitch channel.
Hruska breaks down how Honda has built an active, engaged, and Honda-loving community on Twitch. He describes three crucial factors that explain how this platform has contributed to Honda’s success in targeting a younger generation of car drivers:
- Audience base
- Creative partnerships
- Interactive platform
An aligned audience base
The audience of users found on Twitch aligns with Honda’s ambition to target younger car buyers.
“We have three main pillars that we look at when we’re trying to target younger audiences and younger car buyers: Sports, music, and gaming are three main pillars. Taking it back to 2019, when we were studying those three pillars, Twitch came to the top.”
“Twitch has a confluence of sports and music fans, gamers even more so. The audience reacted very well. Younger car buyers have flocked to the Civic and the HR-V. We show these vehicles because they’re targeted toward younger car drivers and first-time buyers. There’s a valid reason for us to show up on Twitch.”
“When we launched on Twitch we were primarily focused on gaming. But as the audience on Twitch, has grown, we’ve expanded it to follow the audience’s interests. We’ve expanded out to things like culinary music, dance motorsports, and of course, a heavy dose of gaming.”
A creative partner
Twitch has offered support to brands such as Honda and opened connections with influencers. This has helped Honda build authenticity.
“Twitch works with us as a creative partner. They provide insights to identify trends and make sure our content is what they’re looking for. As a non-gaming company, we must try even harder to be relevant, so they help us be customer-led with the content we put out on these channels.”
“We’ve been working with SypherPK since we revealed the 11th Gen. Civic on Twitch. It’s a no-brainer, he has such a large fan base within Fortnite. He has an authentic voice. He was a natural fit to help us build out this creative map mode.”
“So much of the credit goes to him. He has a brand of his own, and his fans were very vocal in building the lounge. All of that section is crowdsourced.”
An interactive platform
On Twitch, live-stream viewers can comment and engage with the content they are viewing in real-time.
“There’s some magic about the accessibility on Twitch when you can connect with someone, and they’ll chat right back with you. It feels like a personal connection. It’s different from other more one-sided mediums where you feel like they’re a step further removed.”
“Twitch is two-way. It’s live. It’s interactive. The live format lends itself to more engagement so it’s a great way for us to get instant feedback.”
Fortnite as Honda’s metaverse vehicle
Honda launched ‘the Hondaverse’ in Fortnite in three stages across episodes on Twitch. It consists of custom Fortnite creative maps that become unique worlds where streamers and eventually everyday gamers can compete. Hruska describes how and why it selected Fortnite as its metaverse medium.
“We looked at a few different metaverse spaces and we’ll carry on exploring that. But we’ve already done a lot of gaming, so Fortnite became a natural frontrunner for the Hondaverse.”
“It already has an especially large youth audience that loves the game. They’re familiar with it. We saw the chance to leverage that fun, innovative universe.”
Moreover, Fortnite has a great level of overlap with Twitch. Twitch, as detailed above, remains a vital part of Honda’s strategy with its younger audience. Hruska explains the overlap between Twitch and Fortnite.
“We asked, why are people going to this metaverse? It’s because they love Fortnite. The Fortnite game category has over 80 million followers on Twitch. We wanted to make sure if we were going to be in this metaverse, our audience could continue playing the game they love.”
“Because of the popularity of Fortnite for gamers on Twitch, we thought streaming it on Twitch was the right move. We weren’t running it in a vacuum. Instead, adding the Twitch element helped to create more of an experience. It gave fans a chance to authentically engage with Honda by building out the vehicles and making the experience gamified.”
The future of the Hondaverse
Honda designed its first Hondaverse activation with a long-term view in mind. Thinking carefully about its long-term goals for the metaverse has given the Hondaverse sustainability, as Hruska explains:
“This was always going to be the first step. We’re working on future iterations. Our first step was with the 2023 HR-V. Now we can build out more maps for other vehicles, and that’s another reason we went with Fortnite. We can carry on expanding our space, so eventually, our users will be able to explore different areas of the Hondaverse.”
Beyond the Hondaverse, the success of this activation is also guiding Honda in its strategy on Twitch. As mentioned, gaming is one of the three pillars of Honda’s community on Twitch. The others are music and e-sports.
Honda has already curated strong offerings for this audience on Twitch through concerts and e-sports competitions. It now turns its attention to engaging this audience on the Hondaverse.
“Our long-term view also means we can apply the learnings from building the Hondaverse to our other Twitch endeavors. We can increase audience input on these streams. There are some exciting episodes of the Honda DreamLab coming in the feature built on engaging the viewers.”
“This was a fantastic way for us to meet the gamers who are present on Twitch and the metaverse, but we can now look to expand it to our other audience on Twitch who are interested in music, sports or gaming. They all tie together on Twitch, and we can take that to the Hondaverse. That’s the beauty of planning long-term with our Hondaverse launch.”
Whatever maps Honda dreams up in the metaverse next, we can expect it to be streamed on Twitch and to continue engaging millennial and Gen Z car buyers.
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