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What to do? Seniors have brand hijacked the Wii

In a previous post, I talk about the issue of whether brand creators should "let go of the brand entirely and let consumers appropriate, define, and sell it in their own ways," as Wipperfurth argues in Brand Hijack.

I conclude that "marketers have a responsibility to establish a meaning for the brand in advance of presenting it to the consumer. The consumer may appropriate the brand in different ways, may reshape and refine and rework its ultimate meaning, but the essence of the brand is, or should always be, in the hands of the marketer."

Now we have a situation where older people are appropriating the Wii game console for their own use, as The Washington Post reports: "On the retirement community scene, bingo is looking a little like last year's thing, as video games have recently grabbed a spot as the hot new activity. More specifically, retirees are enthusiastically taking to games on the Wii, which has been under-supplied and over-demanded at retail stores all year, thanks largely to the system's appeal to a range of consumers."

What is Nintendo, the maker of Wii, supposed to do about this? Should the company allow senior citizens to hijack the brand, and even cater to them; should the company ignore them and hope they will go away so that they don't drive away the core youth demographic that the Wii is aimed at; or what?

My thought is that Nintendo should cave in, but in a very limited way: design a limited-edition Senior Wii subbrand, along with targeted games for seniors, to divert off that segment of the population. It would be a brilliant move. Not only would the company retain their business, but they would probably increase business, as seniors experience a brand made and customized just for them. At the same time, the core demographic will not be alienated...they will have the original authentic Wii experience.

Brand hijacking can be scary for a company when it occurs. But the best thing you can do is ride the wave on a golden surfboard: Make brands anew when a segment of customers calls for it, and preserve the original brand meaning you initiated for your target audience.


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