While modern companies focus on providing exceptional service, Nintendo continues to focus on extraordinary products with a Customer-Centric approach.
In our last post, we began exploring the reasons behind Nintendo’s history of not meeting consumer demand. Many of its gaming consoles, software, peripherals and promotional items in the last 20 years have seen instances of scarcity across its North American and European markets. Limited supply, inflated grey market prices, and angry consumers have been the result.
Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, launched a few months ago with similar supply shortages. Some customers and press accused the company of intentionally limiting production to drive sales given the familiarity of the situation.
What’s behind the latest supply issues is the company’s customer-centric philosophy, not artificial scarcity.
Artificial Scarcity Isn’t the Problem
On the surface, Nintendo’s selling practices may seem to favour artificial scarcity to drive sales. The problem with this theory, is that artificial scarcity is only ever a short-term solution for luxury products. Artificial scarcity only generates demand because of perceived scarcity. The actual value of the product isn’t considered, meaning that the company doing it has little incentive to innovate the product. After a certain point, and despite a company’s attempts, there will be too much of a product in circulation for it to maintain its price.
Nintendo is a nearly 140-year-old multi-national company, iconic and influential in its industry. If it followed the same strategy as the former Beanie Baby empire, it would’ve folded decades ago.
The ‘problem’ with Nintendo’s management and supply chain strategies, is that they’re very customer-centric.
Customer-Centric: An Old but Effective Model for Nintendo
Newcomers like Amazon, Uber and PayPal have been disruptive to many industries. However, their biggest contribution is the latest trend of customer-focused strategies. Many companies are now trying to streamline their services to better improve the customer experience.
Ken Ramoutar of Avanade Insights, highlights what a customer-centric focus involves:
- Anticipate your future needs looking at behavioural patterns, market trends, leveraging data from inside and outside the organization
- A unique and memorable experience; seamless across your interaction channels
- Analytics to inspect call logs and problem reports to feed changes in supply and production
None of these describe Nintendo’s business practices or product design philosophy. In fact, the company is notorious for being especially conservative in an industry that’s in constant flux.
Nintendo and Unique Gaming Experiences
Nintendo’s focus throughout its long history, is on creating products that provide a unique experience in and of themselves. Unlike its past (Sega) and current competitors (Sony and Microsoft), the company never bothered to chase the latest technological, marketing or business trends. This historically had both good and bad results for the company at different points in its history. However, it has allowed it to remain strong in the face of ever ballooning industry costs. Sony and Microsoft may have millions of dollars to throw behind their development and marketing strategies, but Nintendo has its Blue Ocean Strategy.
That’s it for this week’s post. In the final entry of this three-part series, we’ll describe how Nintendo’s Blue Ocean Strategy and customer-centric approach has led it to continue to be a dominating force within its industry.
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