Shehnaz Safiuddin is an innovative brand builder and marketer with expertise in creating relevant, differentiated brands that stand the test of time while keeping up with the times. She recently launched Snap Kick Marketing Inc., a brand strategy and marketing consultancy with focus on market analysis, consumer insights, and innovation, to drive brand strategy.
Safiuddin has over 25 years of experience in consumer goods and retail marketing, including 16+ years in toys at Fisher-Price and TOMY International. She has extensive experience growing established brands, identifying new brand opportunities, creating break-through marketing plans, and launching innovative new products, particularly in the area of kid and family targeted brands. She is equally left brain and right brain, giving her a unique passion for both business analytics and creative problem solving.
Much has been written and discussed about Millennials and their passion for experiences versus the accumulation of things. They’re interested in enjoying life to its fullest, gathering stories, and creating memories.
This penchant for experiences takes on a whole new meaning when Millennials become parents. They don’t let crying babies stand in their way of exploring the world and they don’t let potty-training hold them back from their next great adventure. As a matter of fact, the arrival of children helps Millennials discover a bigger and broader range of adventures and experiences.
While it sometimes seems like today’s trends – the shift to online information gathering, the growth of e-commerce, the ubiquitous image of people self-absorbed in their own devices, and the increasing role of technology in every aspect of our lives – are inconsistent with the desire for hands-on, emotional experiences, the reality is millennial parents are all about balance and are looking to leverage both ends of this spectrum. They harness the strength of technology while also embracing opportunities to unite their families with captivating experiences. Toys and games and playthings provide the perfect opportunity to find this balance and deliver experiences – experiences derived from the products themselves, as well as experiential marketing that engages parents and children alike, creating special moments along the way.
Product opportunities span both sides of the continuum from non-electronic, back-to-basics playthings, to leading edge, high tech toys.
- Unplug: Games and puzzles have been the fastest growing super category in Toys for a reason. They’re a way for families to bond, to unplug, and to build childhood memories.
- Go Outside: Sports and outdoor toys are another opportunity area, fulfilling parents’ desires to balance online activities with fresh air. Being outdoors gets families “doing” versus “watching.”
- Family Tech: Technology done right also builds togetherness and creates family stories. The notion of toys-to-life or any concepts that combine physical toys with the latest tech in a multi-player, interactive format, provides experiential moments, while embracing technology.
On the marketing side, every integrated marketing plan needs to have experiential elements. Let the consumer experience your product wherever they are.
- In-store: Yes, Millennials are doing a lot of shopping online, but they are going to stores too. Captivate them when they’re there with interactive experiences – displays that allows kids to touch and feel the products out-of-box, or seasonal out-door play areas in a blocked off section of parking lots so kids can try-out your toys (e.g., a kids’ driving track for ride-ons)! Create in-store events and activities to engage them when they do make a trek to the stores.
- Out and About: Leverage existing events or create your own event. Tie in with zoos, museums, fairs, and any other family destination. Craft a branded mobile play space and invite families to participate during a cross country tour. The ideas are endless.
- At Home: There’s no better way to experience toys than at home. Partnering with a company like House Party is one way to get thousands of parents and kids to experience your toys first hand. Online is another great way to engage families with your products when they’re home. Interactive social media games or the chance for families to work together to create and upload their own content will strengthen their connection with your toys.
Wherever you’re headed with your product and marketing plans, the key is to engage millennial parents and their kids with experiences and moments they will cherish for years to come.