5 Common Issues We Find When Testing Toys With Kids
You can forget about every part of your process until you understand what the target end consumer is looking for, and what they will buy.
Everything else is superfluous to this point, because if kids don’t want your products, everything else is merely part of your products journey towards the clearance aisle!
There are normally 5 main areas where we find Consumer Research helps Toy brands:
1. Dexterity fit – if your product is targeted at 4 year olds, but even a 10 year old would struggle to have the dexterity to meaningfully engage with your products you have a problem. We once tested a product range (based on a global perennial hit franchise), which was fundamentally not suitable for the target market due to lack of dexterity fit. That’s comparatively easy to identify, and only a little more complex to fix! If kids can’t play with the toy it isn’t fit for purpose, and that’s going to hurt your sales/brand.
2. Positioning mismatch – this is a biggie, because many of the most costly mistakes we’ve witnessed in the Kids Entertainment industry come from this mistake. What children perceive to be ‘coo’ and aspirational changes. So a 4 year old is driven by different motivations & aspirations than an 8 year old. Of course this sounds blindingly obvious, but alas mismatching is common. Here’s an example, we once tested a TVC for a well known Global brand. Their clever agency had created a slick and glossy advert which they thought was just great. However, when the TVC aired, it failed to deliver any significant uplift whatsoever, despite strong media spend. When we tested the advert, it was based on a concept that was meaningless to the target market. They had created an advert which had the right positioning for early teens versus primary school aged kids. The revised ad which we tested and validated created a very strong sales uplift. The most painful part of this was that if we’d tested the concept of the 1st TVC before production we could have saved $millions in media spend and production…
3. Lack Of Tactile Experience – the best Toys, the one’s which kids just keep on playing with are those which are the most tactile. Around half of the Toys we test (on average) don’t have some kind of cool feature or mechanism that means children just can’t put the Toy down. There is something ever so satisfying about clicking together Lego bricks, no wonder then that Lego is such a huge phenomenon. Clearly not every play pattern lends itself to that particular tactile experience, but priority/design direction must be given to deliver on this to maximise the chances of success in the Toy aisle.
4. Failure To Understand The Purchase Dynamic there are most commonly 2 parties to a Toy purchase – child & adult (most often this is mum/mom). There are certain factors proven to put mums/moms off i.e. need to buy batteries, annoying sounds/mechanisms, overly violent play pattern. Now for sure, sometimes the strength of the appeal to the child can outweigh the parental objections. This is normally one of the areas where we deliver most surprises to Toy companies & kids Entertainment brands when testing their products/content.
5. Failing To Address Obvious Problems – sometimes our feedback after Focus groups with children is met with a response along the lines of ‘oh yeah we knew that’. Quite often this relates to some quite fundamental functionality or positioning flaw which is guaranteed to be causing damage in terms of bad word of mouth, kids drifting away from un-compelling entertainment content or returns at retail. Yet often a company will wait until we deliver the news they already knew (often delivered with the subtlety of a baseball bat!) before doing something about it. While this may sound ridiculous, it is understandable on one level – that being that there are so many other pressures & ‘voices’ in the process normally that it takes an external ‘voice’ to assert the obvious over more inward looking concerns.
So there you have it. Frankly, we’d be very surprised if your Toys or Entertainment content didn’t suffer from some of these issues, as we find that in at least 99% of projects we find significant insight based on some of the above issues & other issues.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you embrace the benefits & value of Consumer Insight, please feel free to drop us a line via the ‘Contact Us’ page.