Between the ages of 7-14, the younger audience starts to lose interest in the WWE brand. How can WWE maintain relevant positioning towards next generation fans (7-14 year olds), and what new areas does WWE need to consider in order to stay relevant and maintain its positioning towards this target audience?
I found it rather difficult to engage with the target market for this brief. Children go through hundreds of changes during the 7-14 period, and thus made it difficult to relate with an audience that are changing every day.
However, I started my research by looking into consumer trends of “tweens” – children between the age of 8-14. I then asked people directly how they think WWE would better appeal to children in a Reddit post. I received quite a few replies, although it was essentially half of the replies stating that they should not be focusing on children, and the other half giving semi-constructive feedback. The following replies stood out:
“Once kids reach a certain age (around 9 or 10) they fancy themselves “grown up” and have a hatred for anything they perceive to be “kid stuff.” If the WWE stopped trying to create an inoffensive image for itself and just embraced the fact that they’re routinely showing people hurt each other, then kids would probably enjoy it more as they got older.”
“I’m a 14 year old dude and generally consider myself mature. I also outgrew wrestling at about 9/10 because I realised it was fake etc and it’s a ‘kiddy’ thing nowadays. No one wants to be known for watching I kiddy program.”
“After the age of 9, because of how WWE is aimed at a younger audience now, it became almost ‘uncool’ to like wrestling and still is now to be honest. Kids don’t wanna be uncool and I certainly didn’t so I stopped watching. But about February last year I got back into it.”
These comments led to the following insight;
This then meant that in order to make WWE appeal to the 7-14 age range, the WWE brand had to seem mature. And what makes WWE mature? The head-to-head fighting & violence. I wanted to create a variety of concepts that focused on the mature side of WWE – the fighting, the brutal-ness and the severity of the sport, in aim to capture the attention of the younger audience and let them know that even though the WWE may be scripted, the fighting is real, human-human contact. Sort of like a Michael Bay film – we know the explosions are over-the-top, but that still creates a sense of amazement and awe when we see them… Most of the time.
#1 | WWE VR
The first concept, entitled ‘WWE VR’ is exactly what it sounds like. A virtual reality game putting users straight into the action to make them realize why they fell in love with WWE in the first place – the wrestling.
I would envision this concept being made possible by using the HTC Vive – a VR platform allowing users to also use controllers to control the game. As an extra bit of WWE Jazz, the VR headset could be customized to look like a wrestling mask.
I understand not everyone, especially children, would have access to this type of expensive equipment. As well as selling the WWR VR game publicly, the game could also be played at a variety of pop-up locations, including video game stores and outside WWE events, as well as other locations such as train stations etc to allow young people to engage with the brand.
#2 | WWE LIVE SHOW APP
The second concept would be an add-on app which aims to create a more fierce environment in the living room whilst watching WWE. Users would be able to watch live matches, make predictions, guess, vote and live chat all in real time.
In an attempt to create a more heated and intense living-room environment whilst watching WWE matches, I thought it would be interesting children could bet and vote against their parents about who would win, the style of moves etc.
I believe this would engage the younger audience as it would create a more intense atmosphere. Yes, they may know it’s scripted – but they can still guess and predict storylines and have bragging rights of beating their parents and friends whilst watching the shows.
As a possible extension to the concept – users could also access an inbuilt augmented (AR) feature to display the ring matches straight into their living rooms. When asking a variety of younger people what they thought was cool about apps they had played in the past – they all mentioned that apps which surprised them and stood out were those that they were more likely to play. Displaying a virtual version of the ring straight into the users living room would be a fun and engaging way to get both kids, “the digital generation” and adults interested in WWE events.
#3 | FIGHT RING | WWE AR GAME
The third and final concept was inspired by the AR extension of Concept #2. Users would be able to create their own custom wrestlers (based on their facial features, clothing choices etc) and wrestle other players in a bid to become the next WWE superstar.
I don’t need to explain how much children love games, especially gaming apps, and as such, makes me believe that game, one of which encompasses augmented reality, would stand out from others on the market and become the next Pokemon Go… WWE Go.
Despite pitching in an extremely hot office on a sweltering hot day, I feel that I was able to present my ideas well to the very kind WWE team. I received the following feedback from my pitch:
“Well presented and thought through idea.”.
If I was to receive this brief again I would like to steer clear of VR and AR, as I believe these limited my concepts greatly.