Cats, Irons And Short Attention Spans: Four Lessons From Hasbro’s New Monopoly Empire

By Lisa Arthur | Small Business

Have you ever sat down to play a friendly game of Monopoly . . . and emerged, days later, in a haze of green plastic houses and railroad deeds, wondering why you were clutching a handful of fake $1 bills?

Granted, it doesn’t take that long to play a game, but according to the folks at Hasbro, kids today want something a little more, um, timely. That’s why they’re shaking up one of our most beloved board games — which first appeared on kitchen tables in 1935 — and introducing Monopoly Empire, designed to suit a new generation’s attention span.

Change was clearly in the wind back in February of this year, when Hasbro held a contest on Facebook to choose a new token for gameplay. A cat token won the vote and will now replace the iron, which fans selected for retirement – all of which confirm that, if given a choice, the internet’s answer to everything is “cats!”

If you’re nostalgic about everyone’s favorite real estate game, Monopoly Empire might seem like a bit of an affront, but marketers can learn some important lessons from what Hasbro has done:

  1. Don’t be afraid of change. If a giant company like Hasbro can make agile moves with huge brand properties like Monopoly, you can undoubtedly revisit some of your own pitches (and products), too. Change is inevitable — and avoiding risk means you very well could be avoiding rewards, too.
  2. Build on your successes. Yes, there’s the “if it ain’t broke…” truism, but it’s also important to stay open to opportunities to improve something that’s working for you or to build on a successful strategy or campaign to get even better results. Take what works, jettison what doesn’t and see how much further you can get!
  3. Listen to your customer data. The folks at Hasbro took what their customers were telling them — in addition to how the market was responding to their product overall — and made some big (potentially scary) moves to meet new needs. They collected data and made changes based on what they learned . . . which is ultimately what all marketers should be doing. What’s the point of gathering, processing and analyzing all that information if you can’t turn it into something actionable, and ultimately, profitable? ]
  4. Learn to be “snackable.” Hasbro wanted to offer a game that could be enjoyed in a few minutes, instead of a few hours. The company knows that since families are more time-strapped than ever before, giving them a game they could squeeze into their schedules could lead to more investment in their product. More and more marketers are turning to content creation as the lynchpin of their online marketing efforts, but you must recognize that your audience can only consume so much at a time — and if you fail to engage them, that time shrinks to nearly nothing. By keeping your messages brief, easy to “consume” and respectful of your audience’s time (not to mention bandwidth), you stand a better chance of actually begin heard.

Changing an iconic brand can be a risky move, and while Hasbro has drawn criticism from traditional Monopoly fans for the launch of Monopoly Empire, it’s clear to me that the company is betting the updated versions will help families realize that maybe they do have time for a game together.

As a marketer, your success depends on your ability to stay agile, to keep track of your market’s needs and wants, to respond to new opportunities as they arise . . . and sometimes, to be willing to make a big change if the payoff could be equally large.

Just remember, as with so many other aspects of your role, getting a solid handle on your customer data remains the best way to stay on the right side of a big risk.

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