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3 Timeless Marketing Lessons Inspired By Nintendo

December 7, 2020 Melissa Ledesma

Shutterstock_1163777449 Retro Gamepad / Controller from the 80s

Ready, choose your strategy. From launching the first commercially available video game in 1972 to re-introducing a game that took consumers by storm during a global pandemic, Nintendo knows how to engage consumers. While Microsoft and SONY focus on positioning their consoles as holistic entertainment brands, Nintendo remains committed to amplifying play by keeping gaming accessible, portable and fun. Nintendo’s strategy has helped sustain their brand’s success as a leader in the gaming industry. 

Through unifying a diverse cast of characters, sticking to what works and staying committed to the glory of play, Nintendo has consistently delivered what its audiences crave. To provide inspiration that can help marketers and advertisers ignite their next great ideas, here are three timeless marketing lessons from Nintendo. 

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Mix Brands

Removing Silos Can Create More Holistic Experiences For Your Audiences. 

The Nintendo empire represents many exclusive games with unique characters. One of the most engaging aspects of playing Nintendo games is the opportunity to experience seamless brand crossovers. Going beyond adding the occasional Easter eggs, since the 1980s, Nintendo has built a cast of iconic characters, similar to Disney which crossover from game to game. 

Nintendo invites players to a curated universe that allows beloved characters like Donkey Kong, Kirby, Link, Pikachu, Mario and Yoshi to play roles across multiple franchises. Embracing brand crossovers has helped Nintendo establish a complex gaming experience that allows players to deepen their connections to gaming franchises and characters. 

The brand crossover strategy was never more apparent than with Nintendo’s release of Super Smash Bros: Ultimate, which features an impressive roster of more than 80 characters for gamers to use in battle. Super Smash Bros and the full Nintendo collection prove that mixing brands does not dilute brand value, but rather highlights and aggregates brand strengths and captivating attributes.

If You Know What Works, Repeat It

You Do Not Always Have To Create Something New To Engage Your Audiences. 

Shutterstock_745971748 Bangkok, Thailand - October 31, 2017 : A man playing Nintendo Switch.

The handheld hybrid Nintendo Switch is one of Nintendo’s best selling consoles of all time. Since 2017, nearly 64 million Nintendo Switch consoles have been sold worldwide. Many attribute Nintendo’s monumental success with the Switch console to a return to its core gaming approach. The Nintendo Switch is much more similar to older consoles, like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo 64, than it is to the various Wii systems, which never sustained the same level of lasting consumer interest and sales success. Through the launch of the Nintendo Switch, the brand returned to what worked. 

In addition to sticking to iconic console functions, Nintendo has remained loyal to its universe of cast characters for its Switch games. Continuing to develop new games and storylines around fan favorite characters - from Super Mario to The Legend of Zelda - has empowered Nintendo players to grow with the brand. Nintendo embraces the value of nostalgia and has experienced monumental success by consistently deploying what has worked for decades. Leveraging the power of nostalgia combined with sticking to consistent functionality, Nintendo has created a playing experience built for parents and their children to enjoy both individually and together. 

The Player Experience Is About More Than Winning

Loyalty Is Sustained By Providing Experiences That Keep Your Customers Coming Back. 

In 2020, Nintendo sales surged with the rebirth of Animal Crossing as a digital game within the Nintendo Switch. From March to September, Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold more than 26 million units globally. Unlike most video games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is not about winning, but rather influencing gamers to engage in endless play and stimulate their interests and curiosity without focusing on a single storyline or objective. There is no end to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Instead, players can continue to enjoy diverse experiences. Gamers can sustain their loyalty to Animal Crossing easily because there is no defined end point, the game is experiential, not transactional. 

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About the Author

Melissa Ledesma

An innovative problem solver by nature, Melissa Ledesma is both experienced and passionate about the digital marketing industry. She has held a number of high-level positions within the real estate, mortgage, entertainment and digital advertising industries, including Director of PR and Business Development at NJ Lenders Corp. and Director of Communications & Government Affairs at Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. As Director of Content & Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Melissa demonstrates a strategic, creative and tactical approach when handling the thought leadership programs and marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its family of brands. She manages all conferences, sponsorships and event execution and plays a pivotal role in the creation of written, digital and video content for all campaigns. Melissa has consistently positioned the team at DMS as experts in performance marketing across multiple industries.

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