We’ve all heard the stores before about companies manufacturing demand, but this has to be one of the most shameless I’ve ever encountered.
I was on the phone earlier with a friend of mine who works at a major video game retailer, and I overheard a conversation he had with a customer. The woman came in and asked for Kinect and he told her that they were sold out. Of course she assumed that they were flying off shelves and that it was going to be impossible to get one. My friend corrected her by saying that even though they were selling relatively fast, his last shipment contained only 3 units so it’s tough to judge. Now, this is usually where the theory of manufactured demand comes in. As with all popular products if this type, it would stand to reason that Microsoft is purposefully limiting shipments so that this woman’s first instincts would seem correct. If every store you go to is sold out, it must be really amazing, right? I made a comment to my friend after the customer left, and what said me surprised me.
Apparently, when this last shipment of Kinects came in, they were accompanied by a company wide email. The message said to hold 2 of each type of Kinect product until further notice. No adequate reason was given, though there was some half-hearted excuse about layaway. I’ve worked in video game retail for over 13 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. True, at certain big box retail chains it is common practice to hold onto a hot ticket item for an upcoming sale, but having every store in the company hold onto a specific number of something in the off chance of some sort of layaway program needing the product available is something completely different. There is no way that a major retailer would forego legitimate sales from the customer standing in the store in order to avoid the hypothetical customer maybe not getting their item later. At least, not without being told they had to.
Granted, this is only speculation on my part, but this reeks of Microsoft telling their retail partners to help them manufacture demand for Kinect. What do you think?