Blue Ocean Strategy – Trying to compete in a highly saturated market..leave them behind in 2012!

 

Blue Ocean Strategy and Gaming Organisations

“There is no such thing as a permanently great company, nor a permanently great industry. But there are permanently great strategic moves.”

One of the most interesting modules I took in University was Strategic Management which solely focussed around the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim & Mauborgne) in our 3rd year. Now that I am working in Social Media Marketing, I can’t think of a more relevant area to apply Blue Ocean thinking. To make it more specific I’ll be looking at online gaming industry and provide my own example of a Blue Ocean Strategy idea.  

Although a best-selling book, it’s not a well-known concept but instead of taking up half of this blog explaining it thoroughly I have put two videos below, the first is a brief outline and the second is more detailed (depending on what you’re look for).

 

First things first, do the following questions result in a big YES popping up in your mind when you apply them to your organisation and/or brand?

  • Are you competing in an existing market space?
  • Are you trying to outperform competitors by trying to grab a greater share of existing demand?
  • Do you try and shift the demand among the same target customers by tweaking your company offerings (i.e. new slot games, bigger bonuses)?
  • Do you try to give your customers a little more for a little less (resulting in a reduction of profit)?

If you read through those questions and had ‘no,no,no,no’ as your answers then please comment below and let us know what your product/service is and how you have managed to create your own Blue Ocean as you have clearly done a fantastic job! For everyone else it’s time to consider what Blue Ocean strategy could help you to make the competition irrelevant and take your brand into uncontested market space for 2012!

 

Thinking about online gaming brands i.e. Bingo/Poker/Casinos in all cases the market is heavily saturated and it’s difficult to identify who the market leaders are and what it is that they actually offer over and above the competition to have got to that place. Is it simply a case of higher Pay per Click and Advertising spends or is it through the actual value that their customer receives? I’m going to focus on Bingo for the rest of this Blog.

With a Blue Ocean Strategy (if you didn’t watch the videos ;)) the focus is on the following;

  • Align the whole system of a firm’s activities with its strategic choice of differentiation and low cost
  • Create and capture new demand
  • Eliminating factors that the industry takes for granted i.e. big bonuses
  • Reduce factors that are not necessary i.e. bright colours and flash player graphics
  • Raise factors that should be above industry standard i.e. quality of play and mixing virtual with real life socialising
  • Create new factors that the industry has never offered i.e. video chat, breaking down geographical boundaries, change the concept of game play

So how does social fit in with all of this?  I’ll provide my own example to help you understand what you could do.

You leave your online bingo brand, with its entire existing brand value and customer base and launch your own Facebook (Google + must not also be considered) game. You don’t have to stick to the traditional concept of for example, a bingo room – get creative! How could Bingo be incorporated into a free-play business model whilst at the same time changing the very concept of the game?

Let’s remove the bonuses, they have very little resonance or impact on bingo consumers now due to the overload of this message from all brands advertising methods. It doesn’t work as an acquisition tool anymore, all it has resulted in is consumers who have very little brand loyalty because they will switch between different brands to take advantage of the sign up bonus and then p***off! (You know it’s true)

Sticking to the concept of Blue Ocean, we now need to consider how we are going to focus on the non-customer. The typical online bingo demographic is women between the ages of 25-55, so let’s do something completely different – why not focus on the young, male 18-24 demographic and redefine the industry buyer group. It’s not totally random as this is the largest demographic user base for console and casino gaming so it’s not like you’re hunting for polar bears in the Sahara.

So with a focus on product differentiation, young males and social integration (all the while not forgetting the small matter of some revenue) here’s my idea;

  • Start releasing YouTube Video clips of the story of a young gangster…who needs to make money through gambling following a heavy loss (think Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)Lock Stoke and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Build PR around this ‘mob story’ focussing on your social game title rather than your online brand (which will have associations that don’t fit with this new product)
  • Design a social game (app) that can be launched on Facebook, Google + and is suitable for Facebook Connect (therefore can be launched as a mobile app as well)
  • The concept of the game will be video game style (3D virtual gaming) and you must complete levels in teams of 4, throughout the levels there will be different tasks that need to be completed… this is where you bring Bingo back in
  • The team will speak to each other through headsets or through private chat, but there will  be communal message boards to speak to other teams
  • Redesign the traditional Bingo Style room to have a much grungier, modern, less colourful feel to it. The team would each have to have different tasks such as – getting a full house in under 50 calls or having ‘4 corners’, any line in a certain amount of time etc. The team can’t progress through the levels until they have all completed their tasks and the quicker they do it the more points they receive.
  • You include ‘link up’ games that are typical in Bingo, where teams have to compete directly against all other teams that are currently playing.
  • You could also integrate different games such a card games, roulette wheels and slots which have to all be completed as part of the progression through the levels.
  • You monetize the app through virtual goods, allowing your users to create their own avatars, buy different weapons and relevant items that help them to progress.
  • It is a team challenge that must have a final goal for the winning team (something spectacular like a week’s trip to Vegas with £10,000 spending money)

All of this has been done and in the mean time you are setting up your brands website, where you can monetize through traditional gaming methods, again it will be designed around the same mob feel and design. It’s a game that will build awareness for a year, redefine what ‘Bingo’ means to the younger generation, especially males, whilst also creating an online community for your brand within a social network, which is fast becoming one of the most efficient ways to conduct CRM. Twitter can be utilised to provide hints and tips or ‘passkeys’ for certain levels, whilst also promoting the top teams.

Obviously this is just an idea that I have come up with whilst sitting here for the past half an hour but the key points that I want your organisation to take away from this are;

  • Social Networks provide an opportunity for creative differentiation like never before
  • Social gaming is a billion dollar industry that, if utilised properly can be used to gain widespread awareness on a global scale (including the countries where your online gambling is banned)
  • Apart from the cost of development, social network management is one of the most cost effective ways to conduct your marketing communications, market research and CRM…which makes it ideal to stick to the low-cost differentiation required with a Blue Ocean Strategy.
  • The online gaming market is TOO SATURATED for true market leaders and gaming organisations need to be thinking about how they can create their own Blue Ocean Strategy before the social space starts to become a ‘Red Ocean’
  • With the huge array of demographic users on Facebook and other social networks you can revitalise your brand by targeting a whole new user base of ‘non-customers’ and turn them into customers.
  • It just takes a little creativity to be able to take your traditional online gaming and partner them with different industries to have success.
  • Stop trying to outdo the competition and leave them behind!

If you are involved in an online Casino brand and are reading this, then I would like to make you aware that currently no online casino operators* also have a Facebook app that is being monetized… it’s time to give it some serious thought!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this blog…please if you have any comments then let me hear them!

Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone! :)

*that I have come across – please prove me wrong if you know one!

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