Squid Game is a Korean series on Netflix that has become a new phenomenon on the internet. Not to be a spoiler, in this series, cash-strapped everyday people are offered a life-changing opportunity to play in a game with a huge cash prize. 400+ people meet to play traditional children’s games but what they don’t know is one of the key rules of the games: the losers get eliminated; yes, I mean killed. So in the end, as a player, you are either going to be insanely rich or dead.
So what is there to learn from ‘bloody childhood’ games? How did this TV series drive the sales of white slip-on Vans up by 7,800% since the premiere, as reported by Sole Supplier? Also, according to Lyst report, searches for red boiler suits have spiked 62%. With so much content created around this TV series, if your brand acts fast and have a clever Squid Game, it can experience these rises as well. I know it sounds very off at first, that’s if you haven’t seen this show yet, but the learnings and winning strategies in the games can be worth watching. This article will discuss only 4 of the lessons learnt so far, feel free to add your learnings in the comment section.
1. Any business idea can thrive given time and some Insh-Allah
The script of this TV show ranked as Netflix’s No. 1 most-watched show across the world and on track to becoming the best-performing series ever on the streaming giant has been written since about 2009, with failed years and attempts by the writer to get it picked up, but no one wanted to produce such an unrealistic and violent story. Even at some point the creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk had to sell his $675 laptop to make ends meet. But, just like any other marketing success, the show owes its popularity to a combination of luck and perfect timing. So, if you are still finding your foot in your business, or sometimes feel that once-great idea no longer makes sense or you feel like giving up, remember Hwang was rejected 10 times but he never gave up!
2. Referral from satisfied customers can be more successful than the largest paid ad campaigns
To think that religion like most human cultures has lived and thrived from generation to generation by word-of-mouth is a glaring proof of the power of this very old and all-time classic marketing technique. Squid Game proves that referral marketing or word-of-mouth marketing is still a major leading factor in advertising. I saw Squid Game on my Netflix suggestions but didn’t even look at it twice; not my kind of show, I thought to myself. My friends, Eniye and David could not stop talking about it, but that was still not enough to convince me to watch it. As days passed, I saw countless memes flooding my news feeds on every social-media app including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. At this point, I had to give the TV show a lazy shot…the rest is history!
No paid ad campaign of any scale could accomplish the success that Squid Game achieved using just word-of-mouth, and there is a psychology that supports this. The show gives the pleasure of some sort and makes for a great conversation starter. Word-of-mouth referral of a TV show at such an accelerated pace is something we have never seen before, all thanks to social media. Unfortunately, word of mouth can’t be bought, it comes from satisfaction and is usually done organically, but with social media being so accessible to brands, businesses can now attempt to trigger a wave of trends or buzz to get word-of-mouth going.
3. People don’t buy because what you’re selling is awesome, they buy based on feelings and what they can relate with
Like I mentioned earlier, the TV show is based on desperately poor people being invited to compete in children’s themed games that can either change their lives for good or sadly, for bad. The Squid Game appeals to the viewers on a basic human emotional level so that everyone can relate to the characters’ dilemmas and build a connection with them. You don’t have to be a Korean to love this show, this is the same for any great product or idea. Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented sliced bread in 1928 and every culture since then has embraced it just like that, no cultural discrepancies, who doesn’t love sliced bread? Brands need to stop selling just great products or services, they need to start selling emotions and feelings consumers can relate with and enjoy. The sweet part is human emotions are the same everywhere, despite ethnic divides.
4. No one knows what consumers really want until they show us
Oftentimes, brands shove products down the throat of consumers; the product may be awesome but may not be suitable for the market. However, in the case of the Squid Game, it is quite the opposite. After being rejected for about a decade, the violence and gore that kept the script on a shelf for a decade eventually contributed to its success. The TV show will keep you on the edge of your seat, and it’s rated highly by critics. Especially in a time where consumers are bored of the copy-paste-styled shows now available on all these streaming services, it’s the perfect time to release such a show. There is a gap in the market, almost a need for something odd and fresh like Squid Game. The fourth and most important lesson the show can teach us is that we really can’t predict what consumers want next until they show us.
Innovative businesses should always consider taking calculated risks with their marketing strategies; pivoting diverse ideas until they find the one that clicks–that’s what we do at Brandest; we are not stereotypical, we explore while we take care of your digital marketing and brand communications. The reality is that we sometimes don’t really know what we want until we are given something, and suddenly we realize we want it all along.
Have you watched the Squid Game already? Did you grab anything insightful from this article? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comment section.