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Nintendo's Continued Success

In: Business and Management

Submitted By kitkat27
Words 2607
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Nintendo’s continued success

Introduction
Who have never heard about Nintendo? Nintendo Company, Ltd. has been created in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi with the main goal of producing “hanafuda” cards, which is a traditional Japanese game. Based in Kyoto, the company changed its business and has become well-known all over the world for its numerous innovations in interactive entertainment. Nintendo has been manufacturing and selling hardware and software for systems such as Wii, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi from the 1980’s. Mario, Donkey Kong, Pokémon, or Zelda for the most famous characters from Nintendo’s video games, still are great classic nowadays and are recognisable by most of people. The corporation is now one of the most popular and the leader of the video games market. It could be argued that its continued success as a gaming company is due attributable to an understanding of the psychology of marketing and consumer behaviour. This assignment will evaluate the extent to which Nintendo have successfully applied the theories and topics studied as part of the module of Psychology of Marketing. Each part of this assignment will consider a different aspect of the consumer behaviour: perception, attitude, motivation and involvement.

“Customer perception is reality”
(Piercy, 2009)
“What is the first thing that pops into your head?” This is the question asked by Brand tags, a website which registers words or phrases sent by internet users who answer this question about brands. Thus, this website can provide the way people think about brands. When users were asked about Nintendo, many words or expressions have been answered. Here are the most common and repeated words: “Super Mario”, “games”, “fun”, “Wii”, “old school”, “kids”, “gaming”, “video games”... These words represent the perception people have about Nintendo. More precisely, the perception could be define as the process by which physical sensations such as sights, sounds, and smells are selected, organised, and interpreted. According to Solomon, et al. (2006, p.36), the perception is the process “in which sensations are absorbed by the consumer and used to interpret the surrounding world”. The vision is as far as the most important sensory system for marketers. Indeed, the visual Marketing’s power is huge because it promotes significantly the purchasing act. Thus, marketers pay a lot of attention to visual elements used in advertising, in the packaging of their products or even in stores (Salomon, et al., 2006).
According to Catherine Shovlin’s article for Marketing Week (2007), colours are rich in signification; she says that “research shows that each colour and combinations of colours evoke particular emotional responses in people - valuable information for marketers when devising the design of packaging and logos”. She also mentions that “one study by the Institute for Colour Research revealed that people make a subconscious judgement about an item within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that up to 90% of that assessment is based on colour”.
Two years ago, Nintendo decided to change the colour of its logo from red to a silver grey. In her writing, Catherine Shovlin states that “the positive attributes of red can include physical strength, warmth, energy and excitement”. Thus, the old Nintendo’s logo aimed at making the consumer feeling like playing, challenging. The red colour is also used to emphasise the aggressiveness and the danger and was targeting mostly young people and teenagers while the grey is a symbol of strength, taste and distinction and is also likely to match with all the others. Moreover, the grey “has become a fashionable colour for high-tech products and modern design” (Jim Blythe, et al., 2008, p.105). The company decided to change the logo’s colour also in order to broaden the target. On the one hand, the adults or older people are more concerned with the silver grey than with the red colour and on the other hand, they no longer see the mark as a brand especially for children. In 1990, the Game Boy was introduced to the market. According to Nintendo, “this pocket-sized system has sold over 100 million units, giving gamers all over the world the freedom to play their favourite games”. The original Game Boy was only available in grey, a unique neutral colour targeting everyone. In order to satisfy more customers, Nintendo decided in the early 1990s to sell its Game Boy in different colours: blue, black, white, red, pink or even yellow. The purpose of this colour’s diversification was to provide the consumer a large range of choice and to make them feel like buying the product which has their favourite colour. Furthermore, the consumer will build a self-concept attachment with the product by choosing the one with the colour he likes, which means that “the product helps to establish the user’s identity” (Solomon, et al., 2006, p.15).
Apple Inc. also played with the visual marketing. The company changed its logo into a silver grey and propose their Ipod in different colours. In search of aesthetics, the consumer is more likely to buy a product which will appear beautiful than another product.
Moreover, the consumers’ taste between colours can differ from one country to another (Schiffman, et al., 2004). For example, such countries as United States, Taiwan, or Austria would prefer the blue colour whereas the black will be more appreciated in Canada and the white in Brazil. As a multinational company, Nintendo has to satisfy its consumers all over the world. Selling the same product in different colours aims at attracting and satisfying the most consumers as possible.

“There’s more to marketing than product attitudes”
(Solomon, et al., 2006)
Attitude is an important part of psychology of marketing and consumer behaviour studied by marketers. Indeed, this topic results in the understanding of “what consumers think about products and what they buy in the marketplace” in order to “develop the products consumers want, promote these products effectively, and evaluate their efforts at promotion” (Foxall, et al., 1998, p.102). Maio, et al., (2010, p.4) define the attitude as “an overall evaluation of an object that is based on cognitive, affective, and behavioural information”.
Vorderer (2000, cited in Nelson, Keum and Yaros, 2004, p.6) found that “first, games allow player-interactivity and sensory immersion” which means that games are supposed to be interactive, and may stimulate original thinking. The success of Pokémon can be explained by this desire of interactivity. On the one hand, it seems obvious that the marketing played an important role in the contribution of the success of Pokémon with the television programme, the movies, the video games, the numerous websites, and the cards. But on the other hand, the kids were able to interact with their Pokémon: take care of them and train them in order to make them mature into a more powerful Pokémon. “It is this interactive 'empowering' capacity of Pokémon that accounts for its surplus success with Nintendo kids” (Rhode, 2000, p.171).
Nintendo Company Ltd. changed its approach regard video games creating the Wii in 2006. This system takes advantage of new technologies and targets consumers of all ages. This console is innovative; indeed, players have the opportunity to play through the movements of their hands and their body. This innovation which is obviously due to technological development has contributed for the most part of the success of the Wii. This connection between human-being and technologies also appears with other brands. This is the case of Apple which has been successful creating the click wheel interface on its Ipod.
Nintendo has recently changed consumers’ attitudes towards gaming. While games were considered mainly as a way of amusement, they are now also seen as games-based learning or edutainment games. This is the case of Dr.Kawashima’s brain training: How old is your brain? which is a game based on the neuroscientist Dr Kawashima’s theories and only available on Nintendo DS. “Brain training is a collection of simple daily exercises that help stimulate the brain and keep it young” (Nintendo). Consumers were then thinking that with this game, they can easily play and train their brain in the same time. Thus, the Nintendo DS appeared to target not only children or teenagers but also adults and older consumers who were not expected to play with video games.
Nintendo also changed consumers’ attitude towards gaming by creating the game Wii Fit with its balance board. “Designed to help you become more aware of your physical condition, Wii Fit invites you to have fun and get healthy in the process” (Nintendo).

“Commercials can evoke a wide range of emotional responses, from disgust to happiness”
(Solomon, et al., 2006)
Solomon, et al. (2006, p.144), state that “the attitude towards the advertisement is defined as a predisposition to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner to a particular advertising stimulus during a particular exposure occasion”. The authors explain that the advertisement has several determinants: first there is the attitude of the person who is watching the commercial. Then there is the viewer’s evaluation of the advertisement itself, the atmosphere generated by the ad and finally, the degree to which the commercial can influence the observer’s excitement level.
The content of the Nintendo’s advertisements is very different from what its commercials were used to be previously. Indeed, in the advertisement of the Wii, the company decided to stage some players their selves sitting on their sofa or in front of their television, instead of showing the game properly. The purpose of this change is to create the phenomenon of identification which is a process that occurs “when attitudes are formed in order for the consumer to be similar to another person or group” (Solomon, et al., 2006, p.146). The viewer is likely to feel like imitating the behaviour of the players presented in the commercial and may think “Look, they seem to enjoy their selves playing with this Wii, it looks fun, I really want to try!” This is the goal pursued by Nintendo: to make people want to have fun and to buy their product.
To reinforce the identification phenomenon, Nintendo decided to show players of all ages and all backgrounds: children, grandparents, athletes, active women. The Wii is seen as a console for the whole family, and the family-friendly games have also an advantage: “breaking down the barrier behind which the young ‘‘hard core’’ gamer spends solitary time” (Emerald, 2008, p.22).
In order to reach an audience who is not expected to be gamer, Nintendo chose to explain the new concept of the Wii (how it works, how it is supposed to be used) through its commercials. From these advertisements, the viewer’s can feel amused, delighted, and playful. These are the “upbeat feelings” (Solomon, et al., 2006, p.144). Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president and chief executive (cited in Lucy Handley, 2010) says that “during a Wii preview, I saw an elderly gentleman smiling to himself while playing golf (...) I felt immense pride in our work at that moment. I’m sure that with a con¬ventional controller, people like him would never have been able to play our games.”

Motivation and involvement: “why consumers do what they do?”
(Solomon, et al., 2006) “Motivation is the driving force within individuals that impels them to action” (Schiffman, 2004, p.87). From a psychological point of view, the motivation is a behaviour that occurs when consumers have a need to satisfy (Solomon, et al., 2006). Nintendo wants to please the consumer’s hedonic needs which refer to sensory pleasure (Hoyer & Macinnis, 2008), with its technical products. For example, consumers can play with their Game Boy or other systems which have a battery, wherever they are. Moreover, Nintendo’s marketers intend to create or innovate products which will bring the consumer to an ideal state, giving him power and making him a member of a culture (Solomon, et al., 2006).
Consumers have a need for uniqueness which means that they are looking for being unique (Solomon, et al., 2006). This psychogenic need can be satisfied for example with the different colours provided by Nintendo on its Game Boy, Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DS or Nintendo DS Lite. Furthermore, the technological progress allows Nintendo to improve the quality of its products and thanks to this point, consumers can often see new versions of products available in stores. Thus, consumers can expect these technical products to satisfy their need for excitement or self-confidence instantly. This is the case with the touch screen of the Nintendo DS Lite, or the Nunchuk and the Remote Controler of the Wii which provide the consumer new sensations.
From what is stated above, a conciliation with the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs can be made: playing with Nintendo’s systems provides self-esteem, confidence, and achievement (Ego needs level) and can also provide an acceptance by others or by a group (Belongingness level).

Zaichkowsky (1985, cited in Solomon, et al., 2006, p.105) define involvement as “a person’s perceived relevance of the object based on their inherent needs, values, and interests” which means that consumers can build a relationship with a product. Thus, Nintendo used several techniques to increase the consumer’s involvement.
First of all the company decided to “appeal to the consumer’s hedonic needs”; in other words, Nintendo intended to attract the consumer making him feel good and bringing him pleasure. These needs may appear while reading some Nintendo’s slogans or catchwords like “Now you’re playing with portable power” (for the Game Boy stored in 1990), “Nintendo 64 the new dimension of fun!” (for the Nintendo 64 stored in 1997), “Touch Me!” (for the Nintendo DS stored in 2005), or “Wii would like to play” (wordplay between “Wii” and “We” for the Wii, stored in 2006). Such words as “power”, “play”, “fun” and “touch” involve the consumer and make him excited and feel like playing.
Then, Nintendo chose to “include celebrity endorsers to generate higher interest in commercials” (Solomon, et al., 2006, p.112). Indeed, in its commercials, Nintendo appealed to celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Liv Tyler for the Nintendo DS Lite and the brain training games, or even Beyonce for the Nintendo DS and a game about fashion.
Finally, Nintendo also paid a strong interest into building “a bond with consumers by maintaining an ongoing relationship with them”. For instance, on Nintendo website, consumers can join the Club Nintendo which is a club in which consumers can express their opinion about the products they have bought from Nintendo. Moreover, they can earn coins and get rewards by registering their products and participating in different surveys (Nintendo). Nintendo defines this Club as a “way of thanking you for your loyalty and feedback”. In this way, Nintendo shows that they care about the consumers’ satisfaction.

Conclusion
Nintendo is nowadays the leader of the video games market. Its hardware and software have become cult products. This success is largely due to an understanding of the psychology of marketing and consumer behaviour. The company has focused its strategy on “expanding the worldwide gaming audience” (Nintendo, 2008) by attracting the consumer to enjoy their games and to experience them regardless of the age, the gender, or the cultural environment. They managed to change the consumers’ attitudes by creating new games which aim at satisfying not only skilled gamers but also non gamers or novice gamers and they understood the importance of the colours perceived by the consumers on their products.
Nintendo has built a strong identity and the Wii and the Nintendo DS has allowed the company to get out of the economic crisis. In spite of its numerous innovations, Nintendo has to be careful of its competitors: Sony and Microsoft. (2583 words)

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