The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Mass Niche Marketing …
February 3, 2009, 6:32 am
Filed under: Comment

So recently I saw one of the greatest examples of targeting … and yet it didn’t come from a major corporation or even an ad agency … it came from a gaming company.

Now you probably are wondering what the hell they could have done to have impressed me so much … so to explain, I have to tell you a backstory.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Are you?

OK … then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time … in a land far away …

Oh what the hell am I going on about. OK, let’s stop with the shenanigans and get on with it.

A few weeks ago I was walking home when I passed a Christian Life shop.

Normally those kind of places scare the living crap out of me however out of curiosity, I decided to pop in.

As I was walking around – trying desperately not to catch anyone’s eye for fear of being ‘religiously mugged’ – I saw at the bottom of an aisle, the guitar from the Playstation/Xbox game, ‘Rock Star’.

Wondering why the hell that would be there [plus I thought I could sneak in a quick game] I headed over but found this …

Yep, that’s right … basically ‘Guitar Hero’ for Christians.

Sheer bloody genius.


Because rather than taking the ‘easy route’ and simply launching another version of the product that targets the same kids/adults who bought a previous incarnation … the developers realised there were literally millions of Christian kids [or said another way, one of the biggest ‘niche’ groups in the World] who would love to play the original game but couldn’t because the music featured on it [ie: Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”] wasn’t ‘Christian friendly’.

So what do they do?

Well instead of just relying on advertising, they fine tune the product so it not only gets Christian Parental approval – thanks to the songs and lyrics – but ensures the actual user experience is as close to the original as possible because they know for many kids/adults, they want to feel like they ‘belong’ to the wider social group, rather than being freaks of it.

OK so the game has bands on it that could make The Smiths look good – but that’s the exact reason why God loving parents are happy to pay a premium to let their kids play it – because not only is it religiously acceptable, but they can feel the song lyrics are educating their kids about ‘God’s way’.

Whilst I don’t know the exact sales figures it has achieved, the product is on backorder in many countries so I think it’s safe to say it has/is very successful.

Given so much segmentation seems to be almost about minimising customer potential [rather than attracting specific and/or new customers], I think it’s brilliant to see a company realise the best way to truly tap into a niche market is to customise their offering so it fundamentally appeals to a groups needs rather than relying purely on the [flawed] logic of advertising channel targeting.

Seriously, the last time I saw something that made me smile this much was the LG Mecca phone and I just wish I’d been part of the team behind its concept, because I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

Guitar Praise … the Lord really has shone on you with this, brilliant work.

14 Comments so far
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Was this created by the guys behind Rock Star or some other inspired business savvy gaming company?

It’s genius and this post is a great reminder how to really gain additional brand value/performance through segmentation (love your cynical definition of how many agencies and companies do it) and your belief understanding culture lets you attract greater profitability than just focusing on category which means you tend to just chase the potential money.

Really interesting post Robert. You bought it didn’t you? 🙂

Comment by Pete

I agree with Peter. This is a very interesting post with a very interesting point of view.

I know you have been expressing this idea for years but I sense your time has come and this strategy will be accepted and adopted by many.
Obviously we have agreed with you for a long time but I know how many in your industry had previously regarded you and your team as misguided and maverick so enjoy rubbing their faces in it. Very good post Robert, I will ensure a certain person very close to your heart(!) reads it.

Comment by Lee Hill

Couldn’t agree more with you chaps. There’s a perspicacity to this post that really elevates the marketing and brand lexicon with regard to cutting edge primary and secondary segmenation techniques that would have otherwise completely slipped by without a trace.

Good one.

There’s isn’t a small chance that it was just censorship at work no?

Oh all right I’m up to my ears in Keynote and needed a break…. 🙂

Comment by Charles Frith

Scary product, smart thinking, good post. That’s two in a row Rob, are you coming down with something?

Comment by George

building on that thought, why not add a handicap mode/level to all current games for xbox or wii?

I got this friend whose son is a bit motorically challenged, so doing wii stuff makes for difficulties. yet he does want to play it because:

a) he is aware that wii is cool
b) all his friend play it

but the top games are to difficult. why not give him the pleasure of playing a “cool” game all his friends play, but as his capabilites level?

same goes for xbox and say children with slight mental disabilities..

A) they deserve not to be playing with crap games

B) you know their parents will buy the stuff to make them feel better and “normal”(peer pressure and all that)

Ubisoft are making a game called handigo specially for hancicapped kids..who the fuck wants to play handigo?

fifa is what the kids, all the kids wants..

just a though..

Comment by niko

Absolutely Niko. Thats one good thing about the Xbox live ranking system where beginners play beginners; but t be able to tune it for disability and so on would be another great step.

Normally I don’t like this kind of religious product, but this one I do because there are so many Christian rock bands (or bands that happen to be Christian) that it is getting close to being a legitimate category in its own right. And they also clearly know their audience, which is good.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I love that idea Niko … you have no idea how much I love it.

Comment by Rob

u want to give it a purity ring and take it out for slush puppy’s kinda love?

or catholic schoolgirl uniform kinda love 🙂

Comment by niko

Jesus, isn’t there a middle ground option?

But seriously, I love that idea – and I love it as a “charity” communication tactic too.

Comment by Rob

You haven’t answered my question Robert. Did you buy it or can you not respond because you’re playing “Hell to the Devil” by Stryper? 🙂

Comment by Pete

It’s the Diet Coke of guitar games. It used to be known as a product extension. The fact that you rightly feel inspired to write about it is surely a condemnation of the prevalence of b**** extensions that focus on the alleged loyalty/gullibility of users.

Product extensions focus on what users actually do with the product. They meet an actual/uncovered need rather than an invented one.

Comment by John

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head John. It is just a product extention but because we are being hit with so many worthless attempts by companies this stands out.

To be fair to Rob it is an interesting product extention because with Diet Coke anyone could see, even 25 years ago, its market potential was verging on the mainstream when this product is a bit more inspired in its audience identification.

But it is still just a product extention even if it is an inspired one in audience focus.

Comment by Bazza

and who said that religion was about renouncing the evils of modern society and idolising consumerism… heh. is guitar hero the new bible?

Comment by lauren

BTW – as much it makes me cringe, it’s impressive. no, really.

Comment by lauren

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