Nintendo UK's marketing head Shelly Pearce has been speaking to MCV about the challenges facing the Wii U this Christmas, and admits that the company still has work to do when it comes to educating buyers about the difference between the original Wii and its successor:
There was a big misconception at launch about what Wii U is and one of the big messages is to explain to mum that this is a new console and a new controller. In terms of the marketing work we’ve done against dads, there is now a pretty good understanding there. But many mums don’t know what this is. They’re buying what they’re advised to and going into shops, so we are relying a lot on retail to explain that this is a new piece of hardware.
Pearce also picked up on the fact that the Wii remains a big part of the gaming habits of millions of families — something we've stated ourselves recently:
What we are seeing with our monthly tracking is that Wii remains the No.1 console for brand awareness and we have done several studies, and there are so many families actively playing on Wii. Perhaps sometimes as an industry we don’t see it, because we are so focused on core fans who are obviously not the ones that are still playing. I sit in this target audience as a mum that has kids of this age, and amongst my peer group I have people that are just buying their first console and people who are still playing their original Wii sometimes.
That has been one of our biggest barriers, but it is also a great opportunity because it means they are still with Wii. And it’s through the insight from the Tesco deal that we know families are still playing and have not bought anything else yet. So it’s a great opportunity if we can get the job right in educating people.
Another topic was pricing, which Pearce believes isn't the reason why the system is failing to sell as expected:
There was a lot of talk last peak season about whether price was the barrier. We don’t think it is. I think the problem was education and giving them desirable things. This peak, Wii U will be at a slightly lower price than last year and comparatively it will look a little cheaper because of all the other consoles coming out that are more expensive. But value is the important message. Backwards compatibility, the fact that you don’t have to buy more controllers – that for a mum is a very important thing.
Wii U is very different to these other consoles. Our heartland is with family and kids, but we must not forget core Nintendo fans are a fundamental part of it. Yes, there’s a cross-over with the core fan and those that buy the other consoles, but generally those are quite different audiences. I imagine our marketing activity will look and feel very different.
Finally, there was the subject of the 3DS — which is by far and away Nintendo's best-selling product right now:
3DS has been the biggest selling console over the summer. We’ve seen some real momentum, which is great. It is going to be by far the biggest selling hardware this peak, really driven by those key franchises we have coming.
While we know there are massive fans out there, there are a load of young boys, my son included, who do not know Pokémon, because they weren’t around when it was massive. So we’ve done an education piece explaining Pokémon to newbies. In terms of pre-orders we are tracking higher than we were with Black and White. But I imagine it will also be a constant build over time.
At launch we saw the majority of people that bought Animal Crossing were core Nintendo fans and now we are moving to the next phase: tween girls who we know bought previous iterations. We are also looking at re-promoting some of our other titles at this audience.
Of course, the 3DS is being joined at retail by another new console this Christmas: the Nintendo 2DS. Pearce has high hopes for the machine:
Retail is very excited about 2DS. We need to raise that awareness amongst mums and kids. October half-term is when we ramp it up. When talking to a mainstream audience, you don’t want to shout about something that they can’t buy. 2DS has that magic price point, which for families and kids, makes a big difference. 2DS will be out and about wherever we have family and Pokémon activity going on.