Sonic the Hedgehog has been around since the early 90s and for many of us, Sonic and the classic platform games he inhabited will be a familiar and fond memory.
Sonic was originally released to compete with Mario, a difficult task but the competition was not so fierce then as it is now and Sonic quickly grew to give Sega a footing in what was essentially Nintendo’s market.
Sonic is continuous with many Japanese characters from that era, an anthropomorphic hedgehog with attitude and superhuman abilities, namely super-fast speed and overall, a strong appeal to Western audiences. Sega’s attempts to become a leading console brand failed shortly after the Dreamcast when the Xbox, Playstation 2 and Gamecube began to cement their positions at the top of the industry
Sonic the Hedgehog as a Movie Character
Whilst many characters from that era have come, gone or served their time, Sonic has been reincarnated in the mainstream in 2020 largely due to the release of Sonic the Hedgehog movie which sees a sharply updated high-tech Sonic make a comeback armed with greater powers, a fresh attitude and a modern digitized aesthetic.
Sonic the Hedgehog was due to be released in 2019 but the trailer caused a huge stir coming under fire for Sonic’s new character design. Many said he had become too human and too modified from his roots and as a consequence, much of his original charm had dissipated and disappeared. In a quick and fairly momentous reaction, Paramount listened to the public and announced they would change the character to bring him back in line with the original and to make him altogether more cartoony, less human and more fun/less serious.
Sonic the Hedgehog: A Resurgent Brand?
Sonic had grossed $5 billion in video game revenue before 2014 and by 2019, thanks to a large and diverse series of mobile games, Sonic sales and downloads in console gaming and mobile gaming totaled over 920 million. Sonic the Hedgehog’s historical success is massive and the franchise has enjoyed some huge years but can history repeat itself going into 2020?
From the information BrandTrends has gathered on Sonic in 2020, you could say that Paramount made the right choice as Sonic is certainly making some noise in our research. This resurgence does come off the back of a few successful phone game releases but Sonic the Hedgehog looks set for its biggest year for some time.
The quirkiness of this dynamic opens up some interesting angles for those wishing to leverage the brand, Sonic has been around for many years but yet, many of its new fans will not be familiar with its heritage; this is a brand which is calling for businesses to represent it in its modernized form.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Demographics
The BrandTrends report on Sonic the Hedgehog was generated from research into American audiences.
BrandTrend research strongly suggests the most receptive demographic to Sonic the Hedgehog in 2020 are boys aged 7 – 9. Amongst this demographic, 70% had heard of Sonic the Hedgehog which is high considering the most recent and largest entry into the franchise, the Sonic the Hedgehog film, only came out in early 2020.
1.71% placed Sonic the Hedgehog in their top 3 brands but again, though this figure looks small on the face of it, it’s still significant considering Sonic the Hedgehog is perhaps in the early stages of a resurgence. Sonic the Hedgehog scored a Brand Popularity Index score of 41 in this demographic which is reasonably high and rated ‘good’ in comparison to other brands.
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Sales Funnel
Of the 70% who were aware of Sonic the Hedgehog, 34.36% of the total sample said they liked it a lot. Of the boys aged 7 – 9 sample, this raised to 49%. 39.45% said they already owned something from the Sonic the Hedgehog brand but 49.64% said they would consider purchasing. This produces a consumer demand gap of 10.18%, this could increase as Sonic the Hedgehog gains traction following the release of the film leading to more major releases and increasing popularity. Interestingly, the majority – 51.61% – said they had purchased something from the Sonic the Hedgehog brand over 3 months ago with only 12.9% saying they had purchased something within the last month.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Products in Demand
In keeping with many other trends across video gaming characters, Sonic the Hedgehog features a rising demand for mobile games and apps. Of the boys aged 7 – 9 demographic, 43.59% wanted content of this type. 35.9% would consider purchasing downloadable content on these apps which is on par with those who wanted video games. Physical products ranging from toys and games to clothing, books, magazines, and comics, plush and DVDs are less in demand compared to these categories. This suggests Sonic the Hedgehog is best leveraged as digital media. Overall, boys aged 7 – 9 wanted Sonic the Hedgehog products across an average of 3.82 categories.
Sonic the Hedgehog rates ‘good’ in ⅘ of our key metrics for boys aged 7 – 9. ‘Good’ means the brand belongs to the top 25% – 50% of tested brands. The BPI of 41 is considered ‘good’, the total awareness of 70%, however, lies just below the threshold for being rated ‘good’ (75%). The percentage of those who like it a lot (49%) is considered ‘good’, as is current ownership (39%) and the consumer demand gap (10%).
With a long and interesting history combined with its potential for resurgence, Sonic the Hedgehog has some quirks as a brand. It is certainly sensible to look at boys aged 7 – 9 when we consider this brand as that is clearly the most receptive demographic. Sonic the Hedgehog performs well in BrandTrends tests and with high consumer demand, this is a brand to consider carefully now or keep a close eye on for the near future.