Why Club Nintendo Isn't Free

This year's Elite Status gifts have arrived. Already several have blogged about it, and many have run to the internet to voice their opinions. Without retreading many of the louder opinions that I have little to add to (they aren't positive), let me give a basic run down of American economic practices and the value of data sets.

Or, why Club Nintendo isn't free.

Dutifully in the past whenever difference of opinion has arisen regarding Nintendo's fan-survey program, those with the fastest reflexes seem to always be those who have this to say (you may notice the search terms):

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You get the idea.

But without even having to point to the fact that a Platinum Club Nintendo account is made up of somewhere in the range of $500-600 worth of games a year, complaining about "free games", still, isn't the point.

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What has become less and less obvious to people regarding data farming systems is how monetarily beneficiary they are to the company.

A popular opinion is that Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, or others have reward systems in place purely out of the good of their hearts, as a means to satiate heavily invested customers. This, in fact, is only a happy side effect of the true reason why companies put these member systems in place:

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DATA.

A quick EBSCO host search shows that there are file cabinets filled with peer reviewed data reports that suggest that demographic information is a pain to achieve if only because privacy matters mandate that it must be volunteered.

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A study in 2011 placed a value on the types of worth a particular data set may be worth:

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Without going into heavy statistical analysis (and believe me I won't), you can glean from this 2011 graphic an extremely rough value of ~$8-10 per survey gained from each Club Nintendo survey, based off demographic information and online purchasing history alone. If you were to factor in web browsing information insofar that Club Nintendo gauges it, the price raises significantly.

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Nintendo calculated that their sample on their first year was worth producing and shipping a Mario hat. Now Nintendo calculates that their sample from their sixth year is worth a download code.

Still, for countless reasons, it is very difficult, if not impossible to say how much these surveys are truly worth to Nintendo, other than to say that it obviously is a business practice they have continued to exercise. Their sample gained is but a targeted sample of convenience, and therefore can only study a person who:

A) Has a Club Nintendo code

B) Registers a Club Nintendo code

C) Properly fills out the survey attached to the Club Nintendo code

A random sample, this is not. But of course, customer quantitative and qualitative data that you weren't getting before is a godsend. Especially if you don't have to pay equal value on the market for the information.

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To know the purchasing patterns, thoughts, demographics, purchase history, and general behaviors of a committed customer is not worthless information. It certainly is considerably valuable.

And it most definitely is not "free".

So for all of you people who have pumped in several hundred dollars worth of codes while filling out all those pre and post surveys for your favorite corporation, feel free to send your complaints to Nintendo of America. They certainly owe it to you.

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Email Nintendo your thoughts here: http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/webfo…

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Alan is a grad student studying the psychology of creativity in southern California. He almost has all the Mario Kart 8 toys from McDonalds, but is missing Peach and the hat thing.

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/pandaman27

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