Trends to watch and opportunities for growing back better

The brands behind the trends

At the recent IPA Business Growth Conference, we heard from agency leaders and economists about the key areas of growth that agencies that will allow our industry to thrive following the pandemic. Here, Pearlfinders' Mike Thorne explores the key takeaways from the day and what is going on at some of the brands behind the trends.

Growing Opportunities in Gaming

One of the highlights of the day was Jonny Shaw’s excellent overview of the vast untapped opportunity and possibilities for innovation and inclusivity in the gaming sector. From rewards, promotions and social, to sponsorship and digital advertising - it is a hugely underinvested channel for those brands looking to connect with young consumers.

But for those responsible for agency growth and especially business development, it can be difficult to figure out where to start, with such an incredible number of brands to focus on – many of whom are yet to dip their toes into this burgeoning space. So, here are a few suggestions from the Pearlfinders platform.

Feminine hygiene brands

Tampax was one of the first in the category to enter the esports arena with Tampax Gaming Fest in April featuring a panel of top gamers, Kat Gunn ('Mystik') and Rumay Wang ('Hafu'), and media personality Erin Ashley Simon. It aims to unite and educate ‘all gamers with periods’ through shared experiences and to ‘normalize period conversations in esports.’ We are predicting others will follow – direct competitors like Lil-lets and Bodyform already invest significantly in sports and ESG partnerships, while the sector is responding to a surge of challengers like MoonCup, TOTM, Ohne, Dame, and Thinx.

Bedding and mattress brands

As mainstays of podcast and social media advertising, gaming makes sense for bedding and mattress brands like Simba Sleep, Eve, Casper, MattressOnline, Rem-Fit, Nectar et al. Emma is leading the way via a deal with Schalke 04 Esports to provide athletes with Emma Motion smart beds and scientific data to help the team optimise their sleep schedules.


We have been closely tracking brands from Louis Vuitton to Levi’s as they sign their first major esports agreements, as well as sportswear brands like Kappa, Le Coq Sportif and Hummel that are carving their niche within esports. Ralph Lauren’s new deal with G2 Esports makes them the exclusive fashion outfitter of the esports team with a series of ‘digital-first’ activations across TikTok, Twitch, global campaigns, and events.

One of the things that makes esports so appealing is the diversity and breadth of games, teams, and platforms available to brands – and unlike traditional sport there are opportunities to establish a presence away from direct competitors.

Pet Potential

We previously shared some insights on the trends that newly appointed IPA President Julian Douglas highlighted in his keynote, but one sector I want to look at more closely is Petcare. RSPCA predicted 'difficult decisions' for lockdown pet owners, but in fact pet ownership increased and the long-term trend for increasing spend on pets also accelerated.

From challenger brands to market leaders, brands in this space have growth on their minds: pet insurer Bought By Many secured £247.6m in funding; Pets at Home is one of the few retailers to be opening new stores with retail revenue rising to £1.02bn; and petfood company Royal Canin has partnered with PDSA to help combat the increase in pet obesity in the UK.

Delivering Growth, On-demand

One trend that stands out above all others in 2021 is on-demand grocery delivery. In less than 10 years, analysts predict, 50% of food delivery will be online. Getir has secured $555m funding and has a $7.5 billion valuation - more than either Deliveroo or Morrisons. But competition is fierce, with Gorillas, Asap, Beelivery and Zapp all planning major campaigns. And the likes of Ocado, Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon are not going to go down without a fight.

I hope this gives you a few ideas for where future revenue and growth might come from for your agency. If you are looking for more possible avenues, the Pearlfinders platform will give you the latest insights every day on the brands we are predicting are set to seek fresh impetus from agile and adaptable agency partners.

Mike Thorne is Deputy Managing Director at Pearlfinders - the Ultimate Sales Intelligence Platform and sponsor of the IPA Business Growth Conference. Pearlfinders delivers real-time insights and data to help you to engage with brands that are looking to investing in marketing services, and grow back better themselves.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 01 May 2024