Analyst: Some Retailers Don't Know the Difference Between Wii and Wii U

While Wii U continues to struggle at retail, an IHS senior analyst reveals some shocking findings from her "secret shopper" experiences.

As Wii U continues to struggle at retail, an IHS analyst says Nintendo’s problem is in its messaging. More specifically, most people just don't understand how it differs from Wii.

Despite being on sale for almost a year, the Wii U hasn’t repeated the runaway sales success story of its predecessor. There are plenty of theories why this might be the case, but one of the biggest ones is that, according to IHS senior analyst Christine Arrington, many consumers and retailers simply don’t understand there’s a difference between Wii U and Wii – despite seven years separating the two machines.

Speaking with Benzinga, Arrington said, "I think one of the things that was a real indicator of that was just, anecdotally, if you went into a retailer and you talked to somebody in the games department, they didn't even understand what it was."

Apparently some retailers don't know the difference between this and a Wii. One assumes that they also need to paint L and R on their shoes to remind them which one goes on which foot.

She reveals, "I did the secret shopper kind of thing, and they would say, 'Well, there's no difference between the Wii and Wii U.'"

Arrington said she was told the same thing multiple times in her secret shopping efforts. As for why the console was so poorly understood, Arrington lamented the lack of a Wii Sports-like launch title, a game that would let everyone understand at a glance why the Wii U GamePad would allow for different experiences from the Wii.

We'll have to wait and see whether or not consumer (and retail) perception will change with Nintendo’s fall games lineup, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata acknowledged both the lack of consumer understanding and the absence of a Wii Sports-like title for the Wii U earlier this year. His belief is that Nintendo's "relaxed" marketing efforts for the system has failed to convey the true benefits of the machine.

With both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just weeks away from launch, Nintendo certainly has its work cut out to keep their own next-gen machine in the gamer’s consciousness. It certainly has some great games coming up this fall that we’re looking forward to, and it seems that there’s a strong Nintendo following who love Wii U. But whether or not it’ll break out of the core market and become a hit with more casual gamers remains to be seen.


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