In 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.
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.