April 18, 2014

The Wii Play Marketing Mistake

I was talking with Brett the other day about marketing and web analytics and we got to the topic of correlation and causation among data and trends. Any web analyst can tell you that the data always tells a story. The good analysts can tell you whether or not that story makes sense, or if there’s some other underlying reason that the data says what it says.

The example I gave to Brett in this conversation was that of Wii Play and the mistake that many video game manufacturers made when looking at its sales data. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wii Play, it was a series of mini games similar to Wii Sports. When Wii Play came out, 2 things were happening in the market. The Wii was at the peak of its popularity – but more importantly, retailers were finally just starting to get Wiis back in stock and be able to keep up with the demand.

Anyway, Wii Play flew off the shelves. Retailers had a hard time keeping it in stock, and almost everybody who bought a Wii also purchased Wii Play. Video game manufacturers looked at the sales numbers and started screaming “MOAR MINI GAMES” at the top of their lungs. All of a sudden most of the new games were all in the style of Wii Play – but they didn’t sell. Go into your local GameStop and you’ll see the shelves fully stocked with used copies of mini games.

Was Wil Play just that much better than the rest of the mini games? Did the market suddenly shift? NO!

What the sales numbers didn’t show is that Wii Play also included an extra Wii controller, and only cost around $10 more than buying the controller by itself. Add in the fact that this was a high sales time for the Wii system and the story becomes clear: People had just bought Wiis and needed an extra controller. Seeing that they could spend $10 more and get a game as well, many of them opted to get Wii Play instead of a controller by itself.

That’s a story that the numbers alone didn’t tell, and it’s a mistake that many internet marketers and analysts tend to make.

The way to avoid this is to un-silo yourself from one discipline and start looking at the bigger picture. If your company sells cell phones, then all of your marketers, analysts, SEOs, PMs, etc should not only be sharing data with each other, but they should be reading the cell phone blogs and magazines out there. They should take trips to the store and shop the cell phone departments. In other words, it pays to think like a customer and get the whole picture of what’s happening in the marketplace. Then, combined with the data, you can make a very well educated business decision.

Don’t be a victim of the “Wii Play Mistake.”

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com