Looking at the gaming industry over the past few years, some marketers might be compelled to run screaming into the night. Pundits have been predicting the downfall of the current gaming industry, citing market saturation as one of the main reasons. Gaming is one of the biggest niche industries out there, but if companies are struggling to differentiate their consoles and games and capture loyal customers, what hope do marketers in other industries have?
Struggling in the Face of Market Saturation
Those who remember the gaming crash in the 1980s are likely experiencing déjà vu. In 1983, the market was saturated with hardware. Today, the number of consoles per household is running steep — nearly 80 percent of gamers already possess an average of 2.6 consoles each. Gamers are notoriously brand-loyal, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to invest in a new console that essentially boasts the same level of play as the previous generation.
The competition isn’t limited to Microsoft and Sony, either. While they’re the dominant players, Nintendo, Steam, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android have a stake in the game, too
The rise of mobile gaming has only added fuel to the fire. Developers can now create games quickly and cheaply. But with so many games on the market, it’s easy to fade into oblivion. This has impacted indie developer companies in a real way. FarmVille reigned supreme in 2009, but unfortunately, the company was laying off employees and closing locations by 2013. Even Angry Birds — my son’s personal favorite — saw a significant drop in profits once the excitement around the brand wore off.
As the technology advances, it’s easy to get sucked into creating something new just to keep up. At the same time, developers can’t just release a new game or console with no purpose or relevance. No business can sustain itself with useless products that don’t add value. That’s just a good way to lose customers.
In a saturated market, where every business is offering virtually the same type of product, differentiation is key. But how can you create a truly new product in a field where it seems like everything has been done before?
Succeeding in Spite of Saturation
Whether you’re building your product for an existing customer base or trying to wrangle a new audience in a saturated market, these tips should help you fine-tune your marketing strategy:
- Conduct a competitive analysis. In a saturated market, the path to differentiation begins with a thorough competitive analysis. When you understand what your competitors offer their audiences, you can find the customer pain points theydidn’t address and focus on those. What are your competitors offering to customers? How are they branding themselves? Has it been successful? These are all questions you need to ask yourself. Then, determine where you fit in. Why would my target audience want my product or service? Why do consumers choose me over every other business and service in this field? What do I offer that the others don’t? That’s your “it” factor — your niche. It can be something as simple as offering better service or something as elaborate as reaching a specific demographic in a way competitors can’t.
- Focus on the story. While the quality of your product is, of course, important, the story behind them is what will really sell your target customers on your brand. At Mitchell, we believe deeply in the power of a compelling brand story— it’s the key to achieving your business goals. The world is constantly changing. Connect your brand story with current interests to position your company as an industry leader people turn to for information and expertise, but above all, make sure it emotionally connects with your audience.
- Prioritize relationships over sales.At the end of the day, marketing is all about forming relationshipswith other human beings. Making your content and social media push about furthering relationships (as opposed to hard sales) builds camaraderie among your brand and its ambassadors — which translates into conversions.
Gaming, like every other industry, needs to stay ahead of the technological changes and meet its audience’s needs and wants. It’s a saturated market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t differentiate your brand and product. Unlocking your best marketing potential is about finding your audience members, offering them what they crave, and speaking their language.
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with offices in Chicago and New York City. Mitchell is part of the Dentsu Aegis Network and has more than 300 offices in 110 countries. Clark is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.
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