Teenage interns for the toy industry? It might be a good idea.

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I have recently written about the toy industry’s need to bring in more young people to provide us with their insights.  After all, the closer you are to childhood, the fresher your memory of what it feels like to be a kid.  The more you feel like a kid, the better you understand intuitively what drives their interest; how they take in information and how they express themselves.

As a result, my eye was caught by an interesting New York Times article about one company’s use of teenage interns.  The article wrote about Plum Willow, an on line shopping site for teens and how it uses teenage interns to advise them on how to speak to other teens.

Here is what the article had to say:

Plum Willow, a new online shopping site for teenage girls, calls on a team of 15- and 16-year-old interns for advice about how to design and market the site. What business — whether on the Web, in the mall…Because PlumWillow wants to be more than just an online shopping destination — it’s tackling the tricky challenge of recreating the experience of a gaggle of girls going to the mall — its success hinges on getting all the details right, down to the pop songs that girls want to hear while hunting for a new pair of slouchy ankle boots…Adults trying to recreate that are just asking for trouble because these kids are smart and sophisticated and know when something is phony.

Plum Willow made sure to listen to these teenage girls and their site shows it.  Shouldn’t the toy industry, which complains about age compression, be institutionalizing the process of hearing what young people have to say by hiring them?



5 thoughts

  1. I think this a VERY romantic view of how businesses actually work, but completely correct at the same time. The only thing this equation lacks is the person (most likely not a teenager) who can encourage, nurture, and apply the ideas of the young people. That person is certainly the most important part of the process. They need to be willing to listen and adapt without letting their views “muddy up” the original ideas. The amount of “kid invented” toys out there is a great testament to the unfiltered creativity of children (or young people) and something that can be truly groundbreaking when embraced by partners that can turn it into something marketable. Every great author has a great editor…

  2. I agree completely. My own (teenage) kids and their friends, have given me invaluable feedback to implement. They are priceless critics. Particulaly when it comes to social media, and how to get the word out to the younger generation, they’re experts!

  3. Asking kids (teenage girls or ANY kids)what they want to see in THEIR toys and games makes perfect sense. If you want to sell a house to a perspective couple, the most effective real estate agent stops talking and starts listening to what they want, asking them questions along the way. Are you planning on having kids…will 3 bedrooms work?
    It’s like the scene in “BIG”, where Tom Hanks starts working for the toy company and during a meeting, he just says, “I Don’t Get It”. Clip is of course, on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNMjx1o_Uyo&NR=1 . If we don’t ask kids what THEY WANT, how will we make it for them?

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