Four Reasons Why Toy Companies Don’t Conduct Consumer Research
We thought it worth highlighting the common reasons why so many Toy companies don’t conduct consumer research:
1. Too many other inputs/pressures/stakeholders in process to complicate by adding another – this is one of THE most common reasons we find…especially in bigger companies. By the time a brand or product team has the buy in of the sales team & their retailers, senior management, QA, engineering/factory confirms they can manufacture at the right price, the creative team have delivered the right pack that everyone accepts (etcetera!), it often seems like adding another complication into the mix to ask the end consumer who is the one who will use/push for purchase what they think of a product. Sounds crazy, but it’s more common than might appear sensible! The reality though, is that properly conducted consumer research, conducted by commercially savvy researchers actually makes things simpler in the sense that while everyone has an opinion, a 3rd party report on what consumers think often holds sway over ‘I don’t like that colour on the pack’!
2. Muddled financial thinking – there are significant costs associated with developing Toys, Games & other Kid targeted products. So to add yet another 3rd party agency fee into the mix often seems a step too far. However, as people who have managed P&L’s ourselves, we’ve seen the horrendous impact of products that bomb and just won’t move off retail shelves. The reality is that consumer research which reduces your chance of launch failure, when conducted systematically over time is guaranteed to reduce your risk of launch failure, and thus will easily pay for itself. The reason why it’s guaranteed to reduce the risk is because it takes one more unknown factor into account. So for instance if your product is well liked by kids in research, but there is a significant barrier to purchase, you can acknowledge and address that barrier in terms of product & graphic design, marketing & P.O.S. The reality is that the average TV advertised product costs at least a few hundred thousand to launch, and can cost millions in lost sales, opportunity, loss of future listings and more, if it fails.
3. R&D are solely responsible for the ‘Research’ in ‘Research & Development’ – don’t get us wrong, there are hundreds of highly talented product designers in the Toy industry, we’ve worked with some amazing people. BUT, the person developing a concept is not the right person to test/validate it, because they are naturally (and rightly) passionately committed to it. By the time a company has committed any work time, resource and/or expenditure on a concept, the designer has had to justify and sell it internally. As such, the process itself makes them the wrong person to test a product’s fit with consumer needs. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the designer testing the product with their kids or other kids they know, in fact if your designers aren’t doing this, you should get them to as a bare minimum. However, consumer insight’s value is in validating products that are on track, and highlighting issues to address with those that aren’t. The best people in most organisation’s to manage consumer research feedback & it’s place in the process are either Marketing or Management, for 2 reasons: 1. They are more removed from the product’s current form 2. They have to deal with the crap if the product fails!
4. No obvious solution – where companies don’t have consumer insight engrained within their process/way of operating, someone has to pitch for/justify funds, and then take the risk of hiring an agency to conduct the research to validate the judgement/proposed route of the instigating party on the client’s side. That’s why we make a point of understanding your business first, and the consumer second, because we want to deliver meaningful, actionable, useful findings. And because we have launched hundreds of products ourselves in previous roles, and dealt with many of the issues you face, we fully understand what happens after we leave research findings on the table.
We’re an easy choice for many clients because we have robust research credentials, having conducted hundreds of research groups with Kids, having multiple qualifications from industry acknowledged associations, but also because we can go one step (or more) beyond what kids said with you, thus ensuring value & impact.
To find out more about our research services, or for a research quote/proposal, please email us: SteveReece