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Bargain-hunting gamers turning to impulse buying, used titles

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Cover art, screen shots biggest influencers of purchasing

TORONTO, October 15, 2009 - The video game industry has been overcome by a wave of impulse purchases fueled primarily by creative packaging and online accessibility.

According to The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process, a study conducted by The NPD Group, 40 per cent of video game buyers stated that they have purchased a game on impulse in the past six months despite the recent recession.

Much like gamers overall, impulse shoppers in the industry are split almost evenly between males and females and are dominated by the 13 – 17 age group (26 per cent) and the 35 – 44 age group (23 per cent).

“Clearly gamers are becoming much less reluctant to spend on games,” said Matthew Tattle, Group Manager, The NPD Group. “One would think it is a little unusual to see impulse purchases during a recession but it’s clear that hardcore gamers will find a way to satisfy their need for something new, different and enjoyable.”

The large percentage of shoppers buying a game on impulse coincides with a rise in low-cost used games, which flourished during the recessionary months to the tune of $65 million in sales.

Impulse game buyers overwhelmingly selected low price as the primary driver behind purchasing their game at a specific retailer. Impulse shoppers in particular are more cost conscious; the average price of impulse purchases was only $27.19 compared with $42.97 for planned purchases. The reduced price of used games is, therefore, increasingly attractive to gamers. In fact, one-third of gamers reported buying a used game in the past six months and only 10 per cent say they would never buy a used game.

The study also reveals that manufacturers looking to capitalize on impulse purchases should put a strong focus on packaging while retailers should focus on merchandizing.

A survey of in-store impulse shoppers shows images or descriptions on game packaging are very or extremely important to 40 per cent, while 25 per cent are swayed by in-store demonstrations of the game.

“Game packaging is the most influential form of advertising for game manufacturers and retailers,” said Tattle. “Particularly among impulse shoppers, game packaging is considered a much stronger motivator than TV commercials, online ads or trailers. The graphics and images on game packages should be chosen strategically to ensure buyers are attracted to the game.”

Referrals are also a key to success for retailers looking to attract impulse shoppers, one-third of whom said they were motivated to make their last game purchase by having played the game at a friend’s house or receiving a referral from a family member or friend. In addition, 19 per cent of impulse buyers said a store clerk’s recommendation is very or extremely important to them and 21 per cent are swayed by a recommendation from another shopper in the store.

Canada has an extremely diverse gaming industry split almost evenly between males and females and among all income brackets. Canadian gamers reside predominantly in Ontario and Quebec with strong secondary markets in B.C. and Alberta. Gamers are passionate about their hobby with one fifth dedicating between 10 and 15 hours each week to honing their gaming skills.

Additional findings:

  • Only three per cent of reported purchases were pre-ordered
  • Females are more likely to buy on impulse; 46 per cent of impulse buyers are females compared to only 37 per cent of planned buyers
  • Sequels sell; almost 20 per cent of gamers said they were motivated to buy a game that was a sequel to one they had previously enjoyed
  • 43 per cent of impulse buyers paid only $10 – $20 for their last game purchase
  • Only 15 per cent of impulse purchases were made online

Methodology
The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process was conducted from Aug.10 – 21, 2009 among a population sample of 2,429 gamers (1,758 adults, 371 teens) across the country.

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Press Contact

David Riley
516-625-2277
david.riley@npd.com

@npdtech

@npdcommtech

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The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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