Exceptional Brands: Wii Nails Consumer Needs

wiiIn a pretty sober selling season,  Nintendo Wii sales are still on fire – up 100% versus last year in November.   December should be even better, as Wii is on Santa’s short list in so many homes.    Here’s a truly exceptional brand on so many levels.   First, by adding a mobile dimension to gaming, it truly is different, superior, and preferred.   Second, the product concept is clear – even the youngest of children can grasp the simple idea in a moment.   Third, the product truly delights the consumer – not only does the user get the fun and enjoyment they expect, but a higher level of fun and enjoyment well beyond those expectations.  Fourth, the new product innovations – Wii Music, Super Mario, and Wii Fit are all brilliant, appealing ways to extend the brand franchise.

But the beauty of the Wii concept is that it solved the #1 problem and parent concern for video games: sedentary kids.   Clearly, Nintendo had rich knowledge and understanding of their gaming purchaser (parents) and users (kids) to identify and capitalize on this widespread consumer frustration.     Great marketing innovation happens when you understand your consumer well enough to identify and solve an unmet need.   In this case, they understood that the gaming purchaser/gatekeeper is Mom, who was very concerned and irritated about her kids’ appealing, but static, gaming systems.

Capitalizing on unmet needs is a rich opportunity for every brand, but often overlooked.     For example, in most companies, customer complaints are ‘handled,’ maybe even tallied or analyzed, and – tragically – stop there.    The best innovators mine that information constantly, as it presents rich consumer feedback about ‘what point of pain’ you could solve for your consumers.   Similarly, even the most basic consumer research about what irritates people and what they wish for in your category gives you incredible knowledge about what unmet needs you can solve in your category.

Rethink negative consumer feedback.    If properly interpreted, consumer complaints are consumers’ wish list for your future innovation and brand growth.

Lessons Learned:
1.    Identify, collect, and interpret major consumer complaints.    In particular, make sure Marketing and Product Development see and interpret this information regularly.
2.    Do sufficient consumer research so that you know what they love, and don’t love, about your brand’s performance and your top competitors’.     Leverage your strengths in future new products, and evaluate if you need to fix areas in which you are lagging.
3.     Become experts in category irritants and unmet needs that you can capitalize on.    When you fix consumers’ points of pain, you gain brand loyalty and market share.

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7 thoughts on “Exceptional Brands: Wii Nails Consumer Needs

  1. Nintendo really shocked its competitors (MS and Sony) and the gaming industry as a whole when it released the Wii as instead of competing directly they decided to expand their market base.

    My concern is Nintendo’s long term sustainability. While it may be able to hold the top spot during the current generation their product isn’t as competitive in terms of game depth and technological attributes. I think we’re beginning to see the Xbox 360 and the PS3 catch up with the Wii in terms of getting the casual gamer, which means in the near future Nintendo has to find new POD’s to continue its growth and keep its customer base in the years to come.

    • Point well taken, Kevin; thanks for your comment. Xbox and PS3 have shown strength in sustained innovation both in systems and games over a longer period than Wii and have mastered the ‘razors and blades’ business model. The good news is that Wii’s momentum is also fueling industry growth at +20%. Looks like PlayStation, which has declined recently, better start listening better to consumers to revitalize its brand. And to your point, Wii’s (Nintendo) innovation and listening must continue to maintain momentum.

  2. I’ve never heard Nintendo’s business model put in such a way it sounds interesting ,what do you mean by Razors and Blades? As for Sony, they’ve recently gone into an interesting direction via their new dashboard “Home” which may allow for some added social interaction for its system. I’m very interested to see how the console wars will go in 09′ I have a feeling Microsoft and Sony will be picking up their game even more.

    • The ‘razors and blades’ model, refers to a brand that has a well-priced basic item (e.g. Gillete’s razors) that uses/requires multiple items to function (e.g. Gillette’s blades), creating a lucrative, ongoing revenue stream per user. The concept is summarized very well by Boston Consulting Group in this article. More recent good examples include computer printers/ink cartridges and Swiffer. In gaming, XBox and PS3 consoles are the well-priced basic items that use multiple, often platform-specific, game cartridges. You are probably spot on in your 2009 predictions; should be great to see the evolution of this, now, three-horse race. Thank you for your comments!

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