Nintendo’s Wii: Do Your Customers Really Know What They Want?


When Satoru Iwata started as a CEO for Nintendo Co. when the market share of Nintendo in the gaming industry was decreasing. Iwata realized that trying to directly compete with Sony’s PlayStation would be extremely hard. Therefore, Iwana wanted to increase the pie instead of gaining a larger piece of the same pie.

Many CEOs would look at their current customer base to see what they would be missing. However many customers do not actually know what they are missing; since their view becomes very narrowed. Therefore, Iwata looked and asked the participation of people that were not the current customers. Hence, increasing the size of the pie instead of a piece of the pie.

By talking with people that were not currently gamers, Nintento discovered what kept other people from gaming. One of these was the difficulty of the games as well as the controllers that were used to play the game. The consolers of the PlayStation or X-box gave customers that were not real gamers and uncomfortable feeling.

Hence, Iwata discovered that people wanted to play games in an easy sense of playing the game. Therefore, they created the Nintendo Wii that was a wireless consoler. This created a disruptive product; thus it was something that had otherwise not been created. Through the creation of the Wii, the contribution of Nintendo to the gaming world increased dramatically. The Wii gained a whole new demographic that started gaming.

Therefore, the question of interest is whether customers really know what they want? And whether it should be the customers that the company looks for to create new ideas. As with the Nintendo Wii, it was the way that Iwata looked at the customers he did not have, but the customers he could gain. This interesting case study made me think about the innovations of information strategy but also the way of analysing the currently market in which specific customers operate. Sometimes its not about the piece of the pie; but the size of the pie.

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One response to “Nintendo’s Wii: Do Your Customers Really Know What They Want?”

  1. 343519mo says :

    Indeed interesting to see how ‘rethinking your target customer’ can lead to such a successful turnaround of a company. This is something many of today’s companies could, in my opinion, take as an example. I feel like majority of the multi-million dollar companies today are relying too heavily on traditional market research to find out what ‘their customer’ is looking for. But as Steve Jobs once put it: “It’s not the consumer’s job to know what they want”, which I believe to be true.
    According to Robert Heath of Bath Management School we are influenced by two main modes of processing information, resulting in ‘what we want’. The first being High Involvement Processing, where we are actively paying attention to something and the second being Low Involvement Processing, which is when our attention is running in the background. The problem with consumer research is that it primarily puts respondents in a High Involvement Processing mode, while much of our deepest consumer needs require a Low Involvement Processing mode to be accessed. These needs are therefore very difficult to measure with traditional research methods, even though there are techniques such as Implicit Association and Neuroeconomics that might help. In short I think that it is important that companies, much like Nintendo, start to trust on their gut feeling again, rather than choosing ‘the safe way out’. In the end it’s up to the marketer to understand the customer well enough to know what he or she subconsciously craves.

    http://www.instituteofdecisionmaking.com/why-consumers-arent-good-at-telling-you-what-they-want/

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