Three themes jump out of the New York Times' consumer guide to the 2017 holiday season’s top video games and gaming devices: mobility, versatility and authenticity.
The Times praises the Nintendo Switch – a gaming console that’s been flying off the shelves since its introduction months ago – as the year’s hottest device. One of the key selling points is its versatility. Switch is an at-home console that can be removed from its dock and double as a mobile device for on-the-go play.
And “Call of Duty: World War II” is being pegged as one of the season’s hottest games, with an emphasis on authenticity as a selling point. The game puts players in the shoes of a U.S. Army infantryman fighting his way through the European theater, and the Times notes that its designers engaged an expert historian to help them get the details of weaponry and combat settings just right.
While the smartphone’s impact on consumers is relatively new (this is the 11th holiday season in which gift-givers can buy their dear ones an iPhone), the need for brands and products to provide quality mobile experiences is no longer news, but a given. On the other hand, authenticity as a key selling point isn’t new at all: many a Baby Boomer probably still can hum the nearly 50-year-old jingle that celebrates Coca-Cola as "the real thing."
Experts who parse today's generational attitudes have identified a craving for authenticity as perhaps even more of a hallmark for Millennials and Gen Z, who together will dominate the consumer economy for decades to come. We're in an age of social media, when any hint of dissatisfaction with a brand’s messaging can instantly go viral. Consumers who perceive a message as inauthentic have the power and platform to stir up some hurricane-force blowback.
For marketers, the challenges in a world of mobile consumers who insist on versatility and authenticity are both technical and creative. The technical imperative in connecting with consumers via their smartphones is to ensure that every interaction provides a seamless, enjoyably functional affirmation of their emotional and practical investments in their devices. The creative imperative is to achieve marketing impressions that reward consumers' desire to connect with content that has the imprimatur of authenticity. A valuable bookend to authenticity in branding is to use a satiric brush to paint competing consumer options as silly and inauthentic, as in Direct TV's commercials mocking cable.
For insights professionals, meeting the technical challenges of studying mobile consumers comes down to partnering with mobile research providers who have put the most time, thought, energy and commitment to quality into designing mobile capabilities and solutions. For marketers, achieving authenticity (or gaining an entertaining advantage by poking fun at inauthenticity) requires purposeful and timely pre-launch testing of a campaign’s creative content, especially on social media. For a productive conversation about how to succeed on both the technical and the creative fronts as you address your projects’ specific needs, just get in touch by clicking here.