How to sell Go? An amateur market study

By | 2010-03-14

Running to the centerAs I said in my previous post about spreading Go, looks like nobody has done a real “market study” about selling Go. It’s really easy to realize there are 3 separate “targets”, perhaps 4, based on the age, and for each case a different approach has to be applied.

· Children
They do not decide, parents decide for them. This means you have to sell Go to the parents, telling them that Go will help the kid become more intelligent. As a mental discipline, this is a reality, and actually some studies show improvements in IQ and concentration on children who started playing Go. Different parts of the mind are improved, from spatial sense to coherent judgement, and not only calculation abilities.

The problem here is the infrastructure, that is, the things we need to support a Go academy for kids. We need teachers, we need good books for kids in their mother tongue, and we need continuity. We have to train players to teach properly to children, because nowadays most of them are horrible at teaching. We have to create relations with Go books publishers and try to translate books for children to our local languages. And (the most difficult part) children should keep playing/studying. Usually in Europe an amateur player goes to a school and runs some kind of Go introductory course; then they learn to play. But later, when the the course is over, they do not continue playing. That’s because the only way they have to continue playing is in a real club (with people smoking or using bad language) or on Internet, and parents do not allow it most of the time. So the way to keep children playing is creating a children-focused space (real or virtual) for them, with some teacher/tutor/guard taking after them.

· Teenagers
Actually not so much work is needed with this group. They usually discover the game via Hikaru no Go, and start playing a lot, spending the enormous free time they have. The only problem they suffer is their tight budget. That is, it’s not easy to buy a Go book, which are quite expensive here, starting at 15€. Moreover, it’s not easy to travel to take part in a tournament. So the action to take here is try to lower the prices of books (perhaps prepare a grant for this), and help them to take part in real tournaments.

· Adults
Why don’t we just sell Go telling people it’s a fun game, instead of a complex one?. Usually adults looks for activities to enjoy with, in their spare time. If you tell them Go is a complex thing, most people will not look at it. So the idea here is selling Go as an enjoyable game, with a bit of “it will keep your mind young”. Think about all those “brain training” videogames that are succeeding lately; despite in theory they are boring (you have to solve maths) they sell them as an enjoyable game, and people keep buying. Of course, you also have studies on Go and brain activity to use as background. Moreover, Go magazines or newspapers could keep adults playing the game.

· Elders
Do you know that Go helps to prevent dementia? This could be a nice slogan to start with. There are studies which show that mental activities like Go help the brain to remain healthy. They have a lot of free time, so introductory courses could help. Also they can take part in tournaments, read magazines and such.

So summarizing, we should STOP telling people Go is a complex thing!!

3 thoughts on “How to sell Go? An amateur market study

  1. Javier

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It is really important to have books in local languages, but not only for kids, also for teenagers, adults and elders. Not every body has the capacity, the knowledge or the motivation to take a book in foreign language.

    When I learned to play go, I began to login into kgs Italian room, where I never has met more than ten persons. Nowadays, after hikaru non go has been published, the population in the room has been increased notoriously, the number of users in this room is quite similar or higher than the Spanish one.

    By the other side, I’m not quite sure about the suposed go health profit. I can imagine that It is better to play go that to watch televison. But it is difficult to me say that is better play go than make sudokus, or play domino, cards, or something else.

  2. Israel RN


    I agree with most of what you say, your target segmentation is well done as an exploratory exercise. But there are SO MANY things that can be done that is difficult to determine what is best to increase the go playing population (assuming that is your main goal).

    Resources (both economic and human) are always limited, so I think the very first thing to do is to define what we want to accomplish: do we only want to grow the go playing population? or do we want to make western go players stronger so we can beat asians? do we want to rise awareness even if the audience doesn’t become actual players?

    We must think in the long term, of course, and the best strategy to follow in one country won’t be the same for another: localized study has to be done.

    In my opinion we should first look into how well similar activities (such as chess, draughts, and so on) do among a defined population (for instance: a country, a state or even a single city). This should throw valuable information for us to decide the goals that fit the most to the specific population we are working with.

    Having defined the goals we want to pursue, we can proceed into developing the proper tools for the actual study; after the results come in, then -and only then- we can be ready to trace a strategy and working plan and proceed to action.

    Asian go associations had long tried to spread go among western countries… but with very few information on the targets, most of the resources spent in this endeavour are terribly spent and produced few to none results. Is it their fault? only partially… as it is our due as go players to do our homework and look for the best way to make it grow, instead of just reaching out our hands to take whatever prerrogative they are willing to offer.

    For instance after 30 years of WAGC, how big is the impact it has had in making go popular in our countries? As for latinamerica, I’m afraid to say, impact has been close to zero: the go population growth is almost non-existent and the new players did not started playing nor kept playing because of or thanks to the WAGC. The result? Now that sponsorships are being cut, national associations are not strong enough to keep sending a representative on their own.

    There’s lots of work to do. When do we start?

  3. Julio Post author

    @Javier, in case you did not see it, I answered you extensively in my following post about Brain development in Go

    @Israel, actually the problem is that people are not sure what do they want 😉 More players or better players? Perhaps the epic goal is that, in the future, you will play on the street and nobody will ask you about the game, because they ALREADY know about it.

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