As an avid gamer, the news of GREE shuttering its international offices last week came as a shock. In a bit of snark schadenfreude, the news of their international titles not doing well wasn’t anything unexpected– I’ve played some of them before and seen their respective rankings in the App store. Yet what really caught my attention was the plan that their executives had mentioned going forward: “[to shift] to a “Japan-first content strategy” – the plan being to launch games in its home territory, then localise and distribute the most successful ones in other markets around the world.”
The store seemed rather like a paradox at first. I don’t recall its name–it was some luxury french clothing company. Une entreprise de vêtements de luxe. But it was huddled in a section of the mall that seemed to have some kind of invisible barrier between it and the rest of the complex. On the bustling beat of a pleasant Sunday, and where every other part of the mall was packed like sardines, this section alone stood sparse. And the store itself reflected that same feeling. Unlike the tidily stuffed behemoths of H&M or Uniqlo, its interiors were adorned by nothing more than perhaps 15 outfits– each taking up the equivalent of a full display closet they would in their more casual brethren. There were maybe only 4 people inside. Three whom I believe were employees. Because of the sparse collection, the walking space in there was wide. Open. Empty. Dead.
It took me a month to realize the irony.
Because rather than the rest of the mall–abuzz with the laughter and energy of life– it was this almost barren landscape that symbolized and laid the clues to our future of retail. Not that retail was dying– rather that it would simply be transformed. And surprisingly, it would be transformed away from the model currently enjoying the veracity of a Sunday crowd. Continue reading “Reforged in Fire: Brick and Mortar”→
Above is a screenshot of gameplay in Hearthstone. Those six bubbles are the entire world of communication in the game. No matter how angry, upset, excited, or happy you are — the entire social interaction you will ever have with the person you are playing will be confined to just those six preset options. There is no direct messaging unless you’ve added them to your friends list. There is no audio. There is no chat.
There’s been a lot of chatter on the market about the Nintendo Switch. So far, gamers, investors, and analysts alike haven’t been impressed — as shown by the downward push on NTDOY’s stock price every time they release new information. The critics are clamoring about how the entire product has been a mistake— its size, its lack of pure hardware power compared to its Sony and Microsoft rivals, and the shrinking size of the console market in general. They’ve lambasted the company for being so late to go into mobile, the largest growing games market. Then punished it heavily when Super Mario Run didn’t repeat the same success of Pokemon GO.
Why Financial Institutions are Failing to Court the Millennial Generation
The solution to the struggle that financial companies have in courting millennials won’t be a product. It won’t be some huge innovation in financial services or app design. It won’t even be stricter government regulation enacted to gain back the trust of the public. All the new application overhauls in user interface and features like mobile deposit and biometric security are fantastic, but they’re just band-aids that show us companies are still scratching their heads at what they should be doing. So before they find out, they’ll throw millions of dollars at the wall and hope that something sticks. That by making their tools easier for people to use — it’ll be enough. But that’s the thing. You can’t sell a product purely on convenience (unless that is the product). You sell a product on what it does, and if the value it adds is enough, people will buy it no matter how cumbersome it is.
Instead, the real reason behind the lack of interest in financial services is a lack of education in practical financial knowledge. With the incredible expansion of financial tools within the past few decades as well as the crash caused by the 2008 Lehman shock, there’s been built a feeling of exclusivity and distrust surrounding the entire industry — discouraging many from learning even about its basics. And this, the lack of learning and knowledge about financial services is the key reason in the decline.
Of course, financial professionals don’t expect their clients to have the same amount of in-depth knowledge — if they did, they wouldn’t need their services — but there’s an implicit assumption that there is a shared base of foundational knowledge and worldview. Financial advisors don’t expect their clients to know about the Long Strangle or Iron Condor they’ll use to hedge client portfolios, but they’ll assume that their clients will at least know how calls and puts work and share a priority towards value stability over liquidity.