"What are some of the challenges of developing, packaging, marketing and finally getting a new product to retail?"
That was the question I posed to exhibitors at the recently held Holiday Gift Guide Show.
A topic near and dear to their hearts, respondents were eager to share their strategies which ranged from "securing capital and proper distribution," "creating great packaging," and "tapping into trends that have long-term viability," to "making sure you have a champion at the store level" "creating a need where there wasn't a perceived one before," to just plain "making a fun product that consumers will really enjoy."
No doubt most, if not all, of these strategies must be implemented in one way or another for a new product to get that precious square footage in the planogram.
But now back to the show. I was amazed at all the cool and interesting products that were on view in a variety of categories, including more than a handful of toymakers showcasing some upcoming holiday must-haves.
Driving growth for RideMakerz is its Cars 2 Snap 'N' Go line available exclusively at Toys "R" Us. Each at-home custom car kit includes a character body as well tires, rims, spoilers and other accessories that kids can use to "trick out" their favorite character from the movie.
Also going for that customized look is FashionPlaytes which has built a unique experience for the digital girl with Fashionplaytes.com. Girls, ages 5-12, can design one-of-a-kind outfits for themselves and their dolls that are produced and shipped to their doorstep. Gift certificates (starting at $20) can also be purchased on the website.
WowWee spread the word about LightStrike which "brings video game action into the real world" with a set of laser tag guns and accessories. The product ships in August and features fingerprint ID, long-range LED targeting, built-in health and ammo meters, and the ability to play with up to four teams of unlimited size.
Also coming in August is Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Wii and DS; its first Xbox Kinect title "Once Upon A Monster" debuts in October.
Melissa & Doug showcased Trunki, a carry-on-sized suitcase designed especially for kids ages 3 to 6. The product can serve as luggage, riding toy and travel companion.
Over at Patch Products, the company turned classic stories into a beautifully designed line of Tales to Play games inspired by "Where The Wild Things Are," "The Berenstain Bears" and "Mother Goose," and "The Little Engine That Could." A line of 3D Sneaky Puzzles also heads to shelves in September, complete with 3D-glasses.
Heading beyond the toy aisle, Apisphere Inc. showed off Geomate Jr., a GPS device preloaded with nearly 250,000 geocache locations covering all 50 U.S. states. As an aside: geocaching is defined as a scavenger hunt destination point.
Want to bring along a good book? DK Publishing has a broad line-up of fall titles including "The Lego Ideas Book," which offers instruction on using existing bricks to create something new, "Monsters in the Movies," written by filmmaker John Landis as well as "Timelines of History," for history buffs.
There were also lots of eco-friendly products weaved throughout the aisles. A personal favorite was SodaStream which makes the equivalent of 60 or 110 liters of homemade soda using tap water that is turned into sparkling water in under 30 seconds. Over 30 flavors can be added for total customization.
After several hours of walking around, I really felt inspired by all the innovation that I had seen. As I've written in previous columns, I love learning about new products and I pay homage to all the brilliant product development minds out there.