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

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