How To Get Ahead In The Creative Play Category
The creative play category is one of the most timeless. Children have been playing in a creative way with some basic components forever. The challenge though is to try to provide something more than the child or parent can cobble together themselves out of whatever stationery is hanging around.
From a consumer perspective, the key insight is that creative play tends to be a parental driven purchase, which means we need to appeal to the parents wants and needs as well as delivering an experience which feels like it delivers value for money, helps the child to create an admirable end result and occupies the child for long enough for the parent to get some respite.
Parents wants and needs are fairly simple in terms of this type of product – they want to actively and productively occupy their child, they want to feel like they are a good parent for aiding the development of their child and they want to help their child to feel proud of their work in order to boost their self-confidence and self-worth.
These consumer drivers are so different to many of the more headline grabbing toy categories i.e. collectable toys where the child and their social circle combined with entertainment content of some description is the overriding dynamic. Whereas children don’t consider value so much because they have a lesser developed sense of economic ‘value’, parents are very driven by value perception.
One of the biggest and most recurring feedback points when speaking to parents about creative play sets is a much-repeated observation that they could buy all the components separately more cheaply than the kit or product offered as a creative play set by a toy company. The usual way round this is to add some kind of distinct feature – like a plastic unit or moving part which ramps up the quality or quantity of the child’s output, and which can serve as a central point in a TV advert, video review or influencer video.
We have consulted with more than a dozen creative play companies/brands, and in some ways it is a more straightforward and predictable category than others because it doesn’t see the major content driven ups and downs associated with other categories, but it is also not easy due to high consumer expectations. In the end the path to success entails understanding the consumer drivers for the category and delivering to those.
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