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Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the process of planning to ensure that all brands received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to the customer and consistent over time. In the planning, the considerations put in place are ways to reach the consumer and impress on him to buy the product. Tools used include sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing which are brought together to work as a single unit. The article below looks at how the Nintendo Wii company has developed from its early beginning to attain its now world-famous status where it is famous for very exciting computer games, one of its many products.
The History of Nintendo Wii
This is a household name in the US that is very famous in video games. However, not many are aware that the company also retails other electronic home appliances such as DVDs mobile phones mp3 and mp4 players. Apart from electronics the company also sells clothes, shoes, watches, toiletries among other useful essentials used in the day to day life. As the name suggests the company did originate in Japan.
In 1889, a man named Fusajiro Yamauchi started making playing cards in Kyoto, Japan in a miniature company. Though a new game by then it is now one of the largest industries in the media world. Nintendo Koppai was introduced to the company in 1907 after Fusajiro felt the need to have someone to help him in running the company as the company operations, sales and revenue expanded. After Fujasiro had retired in 1929 Nintendo took over the running of the company fully. The name “Nintendo” is made up of three kanji syllables that translate to “left to heaven’s hands.” Nintendo then got another president named Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1949. After the new management, the company changed its name to Nintendo Playing Cards Co. Ltd in 1959. As a new entrant in the market, the company realized the need to make use of IMC in marketing its products.
IMC in Nintendo
Nintendo started printing playing cards with Disney characters on them after making an agreement with Walt Disney. By then the Walt Disney cartoon characters, such a Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse were very popular. More than 600,000 cards were sold in Japan that year an aspect attributed to vigorous advertisements on TV and the printing of the cartoon characters on playing cards and other items. With that kind of success in Japan, the company decided to penetrate the US market riding on the popularity of the Walt Disney toons.
Sometime later in 1970, Nintendo decided to start making toys instead of playing cards. The first toy by Nintendo was created by Gunpei Yokoi. It was called the “Ultra Hand” and was an arm-extending device with a lever on the handle. When you gripped the handle, the “fingers” would close. The next project for Nintendo was the “Beam Gun,” which is a gun-like device that used opt-electric technology to knock down pre-made targets. When Nintendo realized the potential in making toys a separate company was established that specifically manufactured toys.
It was now obvious that the company was bent on making products that would be appealing to the young generation a philosophy that was bound to change. After showing they could make toys, they wanted to upgrade to the now popular video games which would appeal to children and adults alike. Nintendo purchased a bowling alley and set up Beam Gun ranges thus making one of the first arcades. Though the market was not ready for such a product intensive promotion and marketing saw the product make some sales. In collaboration with Phillips, Nintendo obtained the rights to sell a game system named “Magnavox Odyssey” in 1975. Two years later Nintendo teamed up with Mitsubishi to create the “TV-Game 6”, now called “TV-Game 15”, which included 6 different types of Pong.
Further developments in this industry didn’t prove much success thus the company had to re-evaluate its approach to the market and employ the newest technology by asking the hardware and software designers to give them some pointers. Through their guidance, the Famicom, short for family computer range of games was introduced; it had better graphics and sound than any other games in the market by then. The console was also technically superior and inexpensive when compared to its competitors, priced at about $100. This new system was a state-of-the-art 8-bit 6502 CPU system and it was the most advanced system for this era. The system was just a computer that plugged into the television. Donkey Kong 3 was the first game for the Famicom which came out in Japan in July 1983.
The games did not perform as expected. A decision was reached about exploring a new market: New York. The new market called for a more mature-looking brand other than just a toy. The video game was thus changed to resemble a computer system, with that the company changed its name to Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). After the first purchase in New York people become interested in the new system. Later the “Metroid” and “Zelda” games were released in the US on the new NES console. The Legend of Zelda game was one of the first, best-selling games on the NES range of games. Link, the main character, became the unofficial Nintendo image.
In 1988, the Nintendo cereal was made and it was known for being the best-tasting cereal ever. On the back of the cereal boxes were “Power Cards” that portrayed such Nintendo characters as Mario Princess Peach, Zelda, and more. The company held strong its mantra of improving its existing products and using the latest technology to come up with better products. As such the company introduced a new handheld video game. Unknown to Nintendo, this new system was going to be the longest-selling console in the history of gaming. The new system was called the Game Boy. The Game Boy was a portable gaming device like the Game & Watch but it was powered by AA batteries and had an LCD screen, was 8-CPU powered, and with four shades of gray then released in the US with an additional Tetris puzzle game.
In the 1990s technology was advancing at a very high rate. To beat the increasing competition in this field, Nintendo incorporated 3-D projections (1997) in the graphics and systems in the games. The new advanced games took the name “Nintendo Wii” almost similar to the original Nintendo Wii. The company went into various partnerships with electronics makers such as Sony and Phillips to add a spark to their products. Since the establishment of the first company up to now, the journey has created characters such as Donkey Kong, Zelda, and Poke man. With the earlier games being stored in cartridges, market dynamics have favored CD-ROM storage with increased use and availability of computers something that has been taken care of.
The fame of Nintendo characters has been commercialized by companies intending to market products for use by the young generation, for example, the poke man’s cards in 2000 were banned from most US schools for disrupting learning and causing fights over cards among students. Other products that adorn Nintendo characters are children’s beddings, clothes, toys, shoes, comic books, etc thereby earning the company a lot of revenue in form of rights.
The “Wii”, as the Nintendo range of games has come to be fondly known, has triggered a huge euphoria in the US making it to be considered a must-have among young people. For example, in the month of December 2007, the company was unable to meet this overwhelming demand even after selling 1.8 million units in that month alone. The Nintendo Vice-chairman told the New York Times that his company had made no mistake as the shortage occurred because the company plans its production schedule five months ahead. Nonetheless, the company has a very huge outstanding order.
In my opinion, the Wii is laughably simple, impressively ingenious – and totally addictive. Young boys love it (of course). But adults also love it. More interestingly, girls love it – whereas they are largely indifferent to the blandishments of Xbox and PlayStation software. The result is that supplies of the Wii have never kept up with demand since the product was launched in late 2006. And you can’t get one for love nor money at the moment, despite all those letters to Father Christmas. With such attention directed at this gizmo, the company is swimming in the success of the right marketing of this product.
The company capitalized on ”bombarding” all the areas that can attract people of all ages. This includes having their characters displayed on almost all the products used on a day-to-day basis.
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In the early stages of the company, it solely targeted children below the age of five. This it did with the manufacturing of toys only and video games which were deemed to be kiddies stuff. However, this outlook has changed to include games that not only appeal to kids but adults also. As has been shown the company has had a vigorous marketing strategy. It has enlisted companies such as Tradekey to oversee the distribution and sale of its products online.
The diversity and continuous improvement of existing games have been a cornerstone selling point for this company. Everyone is bound to find a game that he/she can identify within the “wii” package. However, the issue of production scheduling should not be enough reason to tell consumers why they can’t access their coveted product given that they are willing to pay. More so the shortage was most acute in the December season of giving presents, and funny enough, most kids had asked for a Wii as their present, woe unto them. At the moment the most undoing thing for Nintendo is its inability to meet demand. Were I to be the marketing manager, I would press on the management to increase production to meet demand as the product is already a household name.
John Naughton, The Daily Observer: Nintendo, the daily dose 2007.
Tom, D. (2002). IMC: Using Advertising and Promotion to Build Brands. New York, McGraw-Hill.