We’ve seen social gatherings of women to sell products — so-called “tupperware parties” — for everything from sex toys to botox. But this might be the strangest one yet: Is Microsoft (MSFT) using tupperware parties to sell the Xbox 360?
That’s what a report in Ft Myers, FL-based news-press.com (a Gannett (GCI) property) suggests.
On a recent Saturday, about 1,000 women across the country moonlighted as marketers for Microsoft’s newest Xbox services.
House cleaners, hairdressers, guidance counselors and IT technicians got a $150 pack of Xbox freebies for opening their homes to at least 10 friends or relatives…
Microsoft signed up Maldonado and the others to drum up interest among women like them in the services and the newest Xbox console, whose price was cut in the fall to $199.
“We’ve sold 20 million consoles to date globally since we launched three years ago,” says Heather Snavely, Microsoft’s director of interactive entertainment business global platforms. “In order to get to the next 20 million, we need to get a new audience of women and teens. We’re going after them in ways that are different than ways we’ve done before.”
Brilliant. Especially considering game consoles have a strong “network effect” — you want to have the same console all your friends are on. (Which is a big part of what makes the PS3’s ongoing slump so dangerous for Sony (SNE).)
Up till now we’ve been seeing Microsoft and Sony in an increasingly bitter struggle for the hearts and wallets of so-called “hardcore gamers” (think socially awkward males aged 17-25). Meanwhile, Nintendo (NTDOY) has reinvented the wheel with its Wii, crushing both of its competitors in sales by discovering a new, and much larger, market in games that appeal to casual gamers and women with its pick-up-and-play simplicity.
And what do women get for becoming Microsoft’s ad-hoc sales force, and where does Microsoft find them?
They got an Xbox party pack of freebies that included microwaveable popcorn, Xbox trivia game “Scene It? Box Office Smash,” an Xbox universal media remote control, a three-month subscription to Xbox Live, and 1,600 Xbox Live points (used for game, movie and TV show purchases).
Xbox found women including Maldonado and Chicago-area resident Danielle Jamil through a service called House Party, which sets up home parties for marketers. House Party has a database of 100,000 names of people who have provided a profile of personal information and who want to be “brand advocates.” The advocates host a preplanned party to show off the marketer’s brand to their friends.
Read: The whole shebang isn’t costing Microsoft very much at all.