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The Nintendo vs Sega war has waged for decades. But did it actually benefit the brands?

Nintendo vs Sega: How They Used Their Competitors to Their Marketing Advantage

In the 1990s, there was no more prominent name in gaming than Nintendo. The brand behemoth dominated 95% of the market, with a stronghold on the industry’s largest audience — young male gamers. And where did it all start? Why Nintendo vs Sega, of course.

One of the most iconic marketing wars of its time, Nintendo vs Sega has all the makings of a great history lesson for marketers. From using cheeky, direct language to get gamers’ attention to creating new mascots specifically for the console launch, both gaming entities brought out the big guns to win the marketing war of gaming. 

Sega’s Genesis Used Clever Digital Marketing Against Old Nintendo Consoles

At the time, Nintendo’s NES (Nintendo’s Entertainment System) was the king of the market. Sega also released a console called the Sega Master System, which didn’t hold a candle to the NES for consumers. 

Sega released its’ Genesis system to compete directly with the NES. Sega’s strategy for marketing the Genesis console was simple. Regarding marketing language and positioning, Sega’s approach was aggressive, bold, and necessary to compete with the giant in the ring. 

Sega’s marketing strategy included the phrase, “Genesis does what Nintendon’t!”

Sega was poking fun at their most significant competitor by using Nintendo’s name as a critical component in their marketing. It showed Sega’s playful side and spoke directly to their audience of 12+-year-old teenage gamers.

The language used in this slogan was a genius way for Sega to join the conversation and become a competitor in the gaming space.

It’s important to note the strategy that Sega deployed to become a household name — they directly called out their competitor by name, even though they weren’t targeting Nintendo’s exact customer base. 

Sega did their homework and discovered through research that Nintendo’s audience was in the 6 to 12-year range. Knowing they could never steal away Nintendo’s loyal audience, Sega made smart moves to target the older teen audience by offering an advanced and more intelligent gaming system. 

Nintendo’s Response to Sega: Super Nintendo Games & A Brand New Console

When you poke the giant, what do you think will happen?

Like clockwork, Nintendo released a new gaming system, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, to compete with Sega’s Genesis. And compete it did! 

Besides Genesis’ powerful processor, the Super Nintendo system and hardware were superior to Genesis in nearly every way.

Super Nintendo released many popular games that are still classics to this day. These include Super Mario World, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario Kart. Sega’s wildly popular Sonic the Hedgehog was able to compete with Super Mario Bros for a time. 

The Marketing War Continues: Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis

The war continued as Nintendo released the handheld Game Boy, to which Sega responded with their version, Game Gear. 

The two companies continued to create and release various competing products in the 90s, with Nintendo eventually taking the gold medal as Sega dropped itself from the console market. 

Sega’s aggressive campaigns against Nintendo created quite a stir in the gaming community in the 1990s. While Sega’s marketing strategy was brilliant, innovative, and bold, they may have missed out, too. In fact, some gamers may have felt that the bold approach to attack Nintendo came off as bullying. 

It’s possible that many gamers who were loyal to Nintendo at that time might have tried the Sega console but were turned off after experiencing Sega’s aggressive strategy. But that’s marketing — you can’t win them all!

Marketers and brands alike can learn a lot from the gaming war. From bold marketing strategies, creative content and language, and quick-to-market launches, Sega and Nintendo are both legends in their own right. 

Deploy Innovative Marketing Strategies with Web Content Development

Whether you’re just getting your feet wet in marketing or you have a direct competitor you’d like to go after, marketing strategies can bring significant profit and exposure to companies in any market or industry. 

Web Content Development is a team of like-minded marketing experts who create and deploy marketing and branding strategies for businesses of all sizes. We specialize in helping companies to launch new campaigns, increase brand exposure, and become competitive players in their unique markets.

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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.