Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bad Marketing Series 1, Part 1: The 'Wii U'

Marketing is one of the main and most important departments within the larger organisations. Of course all the departments work together, to turn ideas into products or services, but getting the return on the investment is the marketing departments responsibility. If the job is done well then it is likely the product or service in question will also do well in terms of organisational aims and objectives. The marketing department or agency (if outsourced) is usually given a budget to fulfill these aims and if the sales do not outweigh the money spent on the campaign then there is a problem. This article is the first article in a multi-part series displaying the sheer importance of the marketing of a product and how negligence can be costly, beginning with Nintendo's Wii U as the example.

Nintendo delved into the electronics market in 1974 after beginning as toy and card manufacturers at the close of the 18th century. As pioneers of the home and portable entertainment systems, Nintendo have found great success in this industry, not just because they are still existing where game console manufacturers, like Sega have collapsed, but because they have great quality games, consoles and great marketing campaigns. 

 In 2006 after big successes with many of their classic consoles Nintendo received the most recognised success with their, at the time, revolutionary 'Wii' console. The marketing for the Wii saw the console reach highs that not even Nintendo expected. Nintendo targeted the family as a whole, with the living room as the suggested destination for the console. The marketing campaigns for the Wii were mostly successful because they achieved what every marketing campaign is meant to. For a start the Wii campaigns clearly managed to communicate the enhanced features of the Wii, how it was meant to be enjoyed, who was meant to and where they were meant to. What made the console more appealing was the fact a fully functional motion sensor technology could be used to play. It had been done before in it's own right by Sony when they released eye toy for the Playstation 2, but not to the extent or the massive popularity that Wii managed to do it to. The Wii goes down in history as the 5th best selling console of all time, selling 100.4 million units worldwide and from a Nintendo standpoint, only being eclipsed by the Nintendo DS handheld console in terms of sales. 

At the 2011 E3 expo, where all the most successful gaming organisations and developers came together to showcase their current and future ventures, Nintendo introduced the Wii U as their succesor to the Wii. They showcased all the best points of the console; games available at launch, graphics and all. The real problem from the beginning was the issue of clarity. It was very clear within my social circles that many were unclear whether the highly promoted controller was actually the console itself, as it was the focal point of the launch advertisement, showcasing the prowess of the console. 

From the video above it isn't hard to see why some people are unsure about what the console actually is. If you have a sharp eye, have possibly done your own research or are an owner of the console you can spot the actual console as the little white box next to the television. The aim of the advert here is plainly obvious. It is to show the special features of the gamepad. Having said that, the gamepad saturates this advert to the point where many do not understand that there is a console outputting the best features of the gamepad, rather than a handheld console that you can play on your television. Had I been in charge of advertising this product I would have given the console itself some viewing time. Unlike the Wii campaigns, there is no clear target market being displayed, again adding to the confusion. By Nintendo's standards this campaign is shameful. It is adverts like this and subsequent ads that have lead to many people's lack of clarity over this product.

Less than a year after its release, potential buyers of this console still remain confused as to what it is, a home or handheld console. Nintendo admitted that the Wii U is making an excessive loss. Nintendo were already operating at a loss by releasing the console at the price they did, but from a sales perspective also. As a Nintendo loyalist myself I took the time out to research whether the console was handheld or otherwise, but as Nintendo like many other organisations, wanted to not only entice their core audience, but also build a new following, I don't think they went the right way about it. Maybe a little more clarity in their marketing campaigns are the missing pieces to the puzzle. I purchased the console a few days after the release with the expectation it would've sold out, however I was able to get one with ease for £309.99. In March I read an article in the newspaper, discussing the fact that a few months after the release of the console, retailers were forced to slash prices after dwindling sales. The supermarket Asda, were selling the console for a mere £150, less than half the price paid for it myself. This mishap is not just a poor reflection on Nintendo's product, it is also a likelihood that there is less profit to be made by the retailers, which means more retailers have become more unwilling to stock the console over fear of considerable losses. At the moment the Wii U has only sold a poor 3.61 million worldwide after nearly a year on the market. By Nintendo's colossal reputation and standards this is terrible and also shows exactly how badly the interest has waned in their products since the success of the original Wii. 

As it stands, the Wii U is currently not doing as well as expected with the current marketing campaign employed. In the near future, I hope Nintendo can find a solution to the main clarity issue that leaves an air of confusion and uncertainty to it's existing and it's potential customers. The fortcoming campaigns promoting this product need to be clearer to the audience. It is a possibility that Nintendo used this lack of clarity approach to marketing because they want the user to seek the information themselves. If this is the case, evidence suggests that they should change direction and make it is clear as possible, what the value of the console is to potential users concisely.

 Thanks for reading. Don't be afraid to give opinions and feedback. Follow me on Twitter @Allenbusiness

Friday, 2 August 2013

Instant Messaging & Social Networks: New players In the game

Instant Messengers and Social Networking: New players In The Game   As you may or may not already know, the world of social media and networking is forever changing. There are many ways people can contact each other without having to actually be face to face, or having to use classic methods such as the telephone. Text based social networks are thriving because of this. The way most popular social networks operate is in this way. Many people don't realise that instant messaging services are also included in the category of social networks. One could argue that it is apparent because users can communicate with one another without having to physically be face to face. As a youngster there were instant messaging services such as MSN, which many of my peers were using at the time on home computers with an internet connection. The rise and popularity of smartphones in more recent years have seen also the rise of many different instant messengers. In my personal opinion, the organisation that made the most of the trending technology was Research In Motion, the creators of the Blackberry smartphone range. They managed to build an empire with the smartphone's own features and most importantly their own instant messenger called 'Blackberry Messenger' more commonly known by the acronym 'BBM'.  

Fast forward a few years to the present day, the hype surrounding smartphones has grown enormously and Blackberry are no longer big players in the game with a definitive growth in iphone and android operated handset's. Along with these relatively newer players in the game have come a host of instant messenger services too. In the years that BlackBerry smartphone's began to decline in user base and sales, messengers like Whatsapp, which allows users to cross-communicate over all popular smartphone softwares began to expand. The fact that BBM users can only communicate within their own network means users have to use alternative methods like WhatsApp to engage with their peers. With this being a major downside on Blackberrys part, whatsapp is the most used instant messenger today.  

With the knowledge of becoming the second best player in the game Blackberry announced they would make BBM available on all smartphone platforms. It is a clever move by them because it means that the users who enjoyed the service before they stopped using BlackBerry phones can now once again, relive the good times using the service. The hype surrounding the announcement, while alternative smartphone users wait have spawned a new similar alternative. Almost in the genetic make up of BBM, iPhone users have taken to an instant messenger called 'PEEM'. In all fairness their timing was perfect because users are mostly former BBM users, just the impatient ones, who can't wait for BBM to be released. The way PEEM has spread onto most of the social networks I personally use shows the efficiency and speed users can spread messages to many people, in such a short time. People promoted information to connect with them on PEEM on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as on WhatsApp.  

One has to wonder, if the PEEM users are using the service as a pacifier until BBM is released or do BlackBerry have a new challenger that could potentially wipe out it's existence in terms of usage. Only time will tell.

Thanks for Reading.   For constructive feedback and opinions on this piece follow me on Twitter: @Allenbusiness