EA’s customer strategy takes its cue from entertainment world

Photo Credit. Simon Fraser University

Electronic Arts is a big player in the gaming world. At the recent BC Tech Summit in Vancouver, the company revealed the secret of how it has maintained brand position by using data-driven strategies to hang on to fickle audiences. In the entertainment industry, it’s largely about effectively using consumer data to be on the forefront of consumer intelligence.

“We look at three stages to acquiring and maintaining customers: discovery, purchase, and enjoyment,” said EA CEO, Andrew Wilson. “Take for example, cinemas. I remember lining up for hours to watch my favourite movies and then rushing to find the best seat. Those days are now over. I book my tickets online, I select my seat in advance, and I can even order a meal in-theater. Movie theaters began to see a decline in attendance, so they changed their movie viewing experience to retain customers.”

Connection to customer

Wilson talked about three types of connection in customer relationships: connection to customer, content, and brand. “Brands seem to confuse connection to customer with connection to brand. We need to see things from the customer perspective. The consumer wants to know who and what am I connected to. Who out of my friend and contact group am I connected to by making this purchase?” Wilson also discussed Dunbar’s Number, the theory that humans have a maximum of 150 friends and only 7 close friends. “When consumers make a purchase, they want to be connected to their 7 close friends.”

Connection to content

“Maybe you’ve seen House of Cards on Netflix. Their data tells them that viewers will binge watch a show after the 3 episode mark. Netflix asked the House of Cards team to show different sides of Frank in the first three episodes; ruthless Frank, Frank the politician, and Frank the human.” It was episode three, Frank the human, the viewers really connected to the character and the show.

EA has similar measurements. With the introduction of the EA subscription model, its teams were much better able to assess who loyal customers were and when they became loyal. According to Wilson, “when subscribers play 3 games or more, they stay, and when they play 10 sessions or more, they stay.”

Connection to brand

“Starbucks is a people company that serves coffee, not a coffee company that serves to people,” Wilson said. Taking a note from that playbook, EA Access is focused on value-added experiences to really connect consumers to the brand. Humans used to invest time after dollars, they now invest dollars after time as our values have shifted, Wilson added.

“For a brand to remain omnipresent it has to avoid disconnects in the relationship. If you’re not there, somebody else will be.


Meena Sandhu

Meena Sandhu is a marketing strategist and a speaker. She heads up Moonshot Marketing. Meena is currently working with a number of clients in the startup, fintech, and agency worlds. She is an adjunct professor at UBC at the Graduate School of Journalism and the Sauder School of Business. Meena lead the acquisition strategy for Credit Unions of BC. She was responsible for leading ING DIRECT's regional marketing strategy for Western Canada. Meena is well recognized in the social media community in Vancouver and hosted Social Media Week in 2011 and 2012 as well as presenting as a speaker and moderator each year. Meena joined the BCAMA board of Directors in 2012 as the Director of Social Media and in 2014 as the Director of Vision. She has been doing public speaking across North America since 2009.

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