Men Who Love to Play; one way to revive the toy business

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I have recently had the opportunity to speak with professionals from other forms of play about their perceptions of the traditional toy industry.  Many of them express the same notion:  “The toy industry is out of touch with those who play and how they play.”

You may or may not agree with this perception but it is interesting to listen to how someone else sees us.  Its always a bit unsettling when someone tells us that our longtime hairstyle or clothing choices with which we are so comfortable make us look dated.

One area in which I think our retail toy community is lacking is in its failure to see “play” as a family enterprise rather than something just for children.  Toy stores and departments should not be just a child’s destination but a place for adults, teens and tweens to be comfortable visiting and to be delighted in what they find.

It was with this in mind that I came upon an article on Flipbook entitled “Men’s Many Toys.”  We know that 21st century grownups now like to play as much or more than children so what is it that they want to play with?  Here are some of the items the article listed:

Harley Davidson Livewire Electric Motorcycle

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Water Hoverboard

Hoverboard

Vintage Arcade Skeeball

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Base Camp X Slingshot

Slingshot

What if Toys “R” Us were to fully embrace the adult play enthusiast?  What if they were to create a toy department for men that contained what men thought were cool?  Think about how many adults, kids in tow, that it would bring to the store.  Do they need to carry the Harley Davidson Livewire Electric Motorcycle?  Why not have one on display and take orders for a nearby Harley shop and split the profit.  There are any number of ways to think differently about the business of play.

It’s time for our retail partners to rethink the very essence of who plays and how they play.  It might just revive a declining industry. 

 

2 thoughts

  1. Richard, I completely agree with your assessment and believe Carrera is the perfect example of how a company can deliver a great product and “play experience” to both kids and adults.
    As the world’s largest producer of electric slot car racing products, our business has been growing at the rate of +20% a year over the past five years (in spite of the recent economic woes we have all been experiencing).
    Our product attracts kids, hobbyist and car enthusiasts alike. Through a strategy which I call market segmentation we have created a line dedicated to kids with our licensed themed 1:43 scale GO line.
    In addition, our 1:32 and 1:24 scale lines in analog and digital formats appeal specifically to an adult demographic with the largest range of the most popular vintage, street and race versions of the top car brands.
    Our product is multi-generational and is a perfect example of a “family activity”. It is kinetic and it offers speed, skill and challenge in simulating real racing. Our research also shows that there is a growing segment of girls and women that enjoy the Carrera race experience as well.
    When you discuss “play dates for men” Carrera has already identified this trend and will be launching a new product this year aimed at a 30+ male demographic utilizing wireless digital technology combined with blue tooth compatibility.
    This is cutting edge high tech and not your grandfather’s slot car track from 40 years ago!!
    There ARE specialty and hobby retailers that embrace this concept of offering products that appeal to both kids and adults. Mass market and big box retailers could learn a lesson in this and expand their product offering to attract a not only a new customer but keep existing customers shopping in their stores for longer periods of time.

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