A-Z Of The Toy Industry – C is for Children
Without children there wouldn’t be a toy industry.
However, you might be surprised at how few toy industry executives ever get anywhere near their end consumer interacting with their products. There are so many must do’s in the toy industry and so many functions that sometimes consumer research/interaction falls by the wayside because you absolutely must speak to retailers, you must hit marketing deadlines & stock ordering deadlines, QA standards etc. But none of that guarantees you have a product that your end consumer will actually want/buy.
It is not coincidence that the largest toy companies in the world i.e. Mattel, Lego & Hasbro spend significant time, money and resources on consumer testing.
Aside from children being crucial to our achieving our sales targets & ongoing success, we also have a burden of responsibility as our products can play a massive role in the development of the next generation of people. Having conducted over 1,000 focus groups with children and parents, and seen how precious children are and how much of a role our industry plays in their childhoods, I hold strongly the feeling of childhood being sacrosanct.
This is one of the reasons why I continue to conduct consumer research for toy companies (big and small), because it works for toy companies & it helps to avoid disappointed kids on Christmas morning. There is little more satisfying than making a failing product work.
Of course play patterns have changed over time, as has the living conditions of children. As research for this article I visited the museum of childhood at Sudbury manor in the North of England. This glorious display of play artifacts and the lives of children reminded me that children of my great grandparents generation may have been too busy working to spend too much time playing with toys.
My parents generation had a lot of freedom to roam as well as the beginnings of mass produced toys to play with.
Today’s kids lack physical freedom due to health and safety and ‘stranger danger’, and so instead they have online/virtual freedom instead from quite a young age. This is why I believe Minecraft has been so successful – because children are free to roam the unformed world, much like past generations roamed the real world.
Such ramblings aside, the reality is that our industry is entirely dependent on children – our end consumer, best not to forget this!
by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight www.KidsBrandInsight.com, a leading Consultancy to toy companies around the world, which helps companies with product reviews & awards, find the right toy & game factories, consumer research test their products with kids and parents and secure export distribution/market entry around the world.