Tag Archives: brand management

The Worst Toys this Holiday Season

We all know that many new products will fail in the marketplace for one reason or another. Sometimes the quality is poor, or the packaging is wrong, or the price is too high. And sometimes a product fails because it can be dangerous.

Each year the non-profit organization World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) compiles a list of the 10 “worst toys” of the year. Toys make the list when they present a hazard to children such as choking, cutting, or with one of this year’s toys, slashing.

Before crying out that “kids will be kids and anything can be dangerous,” consider that unsafe toys are a serious health issue. The numbers are scary. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there were roughly 240,000 toy-related injuries in the U.S. in 2016. This translates to one child treated for a toy-related injury in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes. And, between January 2017 and October 2018 there were an estimated 3.5 million units of toys recalled in the U.S. and Canada.

Some of the toys on this year’s list include:

  • Black Panther Slash Claw (slashing injuries)
  • Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade (blunt force and eye injuries)
  • Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket (eye, face, and other impact injuries)
  • Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll (choking injuries)

Detailed warning labels on packaging aren’t always enough. Young, small children in particular are vulnerable, plus not all warning labels are read and followed. View the list and read the concerns.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the topic of responsibility of a company to consumers.
  2. View the toys on the list: https://toysafety.org/
  3. Divide the students into teams. Have each team review one of the products on the list.
  4. For the product, how should the company address the issue that it is on the “worst toys” list? What should retailers do?
  5. Have students research how toys are tested.

Source: Marcelo, P. (13 November 2018). The “worst toys” for the holidays, according to safety group. Associated Press.

 

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The Power of Play – Innovation in Toys

Innovation comes in many forms. It can range from very complex high technology products such as robots and self-driving cars, to relatively simple toys and dolls. Nonetheless, even when simple, innovation and imagination are powerful forces. They help to fuel learning and expand thinking.

Consider a somewhat humble product – the Barbie doll. Barbie is getting up there in years and is approaching 60 years on the toy market. Yet, instead of being seen as old-fashioned, the doll has changed greatly over the years. Barbie has changed in shape, size, color, and profession. In past years, Barbie has had careers including nurse, teacher, fashion model, and princess. But now she is much more. Barbie is now an engineer, an Olympic athlete, a legendary pilot, mathematician, chef, and artist.

In its latest incarnation, Barbie follows the lead of other female trailblazers and has a new personas as the first female actor to portray Doctor Who, the time-traveler lead of the popular BBC TV series, and the alien-hunting FBI Agent Dana Scully of the X-Files. This takes her far beyond her fashion and beach days and brings her into the current era of strong female leaders.

Who should Barbie become next?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage. Make sure to include various toys and Barbie dolls.
  3. Discuss Mattel’s new additions to the Barbie product line. How does Mattel maintain its position on the PLC using Barbie products?
  4. Show the Web site: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/new-barbies
  5. Show the Dr. Who doll: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/doctor-who-barbie-doll-fxc83?sf93512412=1
  6. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Miller, S. (9 October 2018). Barbie adds Doctor Who, Dana Scully and more to its growing roster of modern icons. Advertising Age.

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Singles Day 2018 – “11/11 Global Shopping Festival” Hits $30 Billion

Once again the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. And, no, it’s not Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By far, the biggest shopping day of the year is on November 11, Singles Day, in China. The holiday originally began in 1993 by college students as a celebration for people who are single, chosen because of the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. November 11 now serves as an occasion for single people to party – and shop!

This year, sales (stated as Gross Merchandise Value – GMV) hit $1 billion in only 1 minute and 25 seconds! At the end of the first hour, the sales reached $10 billion! By the end of 24 hours, the sales were an astounding $30.8 billion!

There were more than 100 million items sold in 17 countries, with 180,000 brands participating. More than one billion packages are estimated to be shipping. Even more impressive is that a whopping 90% of sales were completed from mobile devices. Wow.

Singles’ Day is by far the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the world. Compare it to Amazon’s Prime Day at $4 billion, and Black Friday at $14 billion online to see the difference.

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping. It started with a November 10 evening event with a live-streamed, star-studded gala show that drew in 240 million viewers (that’s the equivalent of one in five people in China). There was also interactive entertainment and sport via Alibaba’s app to increase audience and shopper participation.

Why is it so important for global brands to enter this shopping day? Consider that there are roughly 300 million middle-class shoppers in China, rising to an estimated 500 million in the next 10-15 years. While Singles Day may have originally started for lonely Chinese consumers, the shopping day now is seen as critical to driving China’s – and the world – economy.

If you are not familiar with Singles Day, there are many sources with information about the event and Alibaba, including the following:

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Most students will not have previously heard of China’s Single Day. Discuss the shopping holiday and its importance in China.
  2. This is likely the first time students have heard about Singles Day. There are a number of videos that can help explain the event:
    1. What is 11/11?  https://youtu.be/bRv9qG75x2c
    2. Evolution of Singles Day: https://www.alizila.com/video/the-evolution-of-11-11/
    3. Highlights of 2018 event: https://youtu.be/W9JNfS0dAL0
  1. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  2. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, The Verge, other news sources

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