Opinion | Love craft: What are the secrets to creating a lovable toy brand?

In the quest to answer the question, how can you create not just a great toy brand, but a loved one, PR agency Energy PR has uncovered a few home truths about the nature of customer loyalty, all of which it lays out in its new Brand Love research report.

Here, Louise Findlay-Wilson, founder and managing director at Energy PR, explores some of those findings as she discusses the boxes a brand needs to tick to transition from a favoured children’s brand to one that is loved by kids, families, and parents alike.

It seems obvious that a toy brand would want to make itself lovable, after all the relationship between a child and a toy is utterly rooted in the emotions of fun, excitement and yes…love.

But it’s not just the child which a toy brand needs to worry about. Unlike most other consumer goods, toy brands also need to think about the parents and gift givers too – and go the distance in order to foster their love.

This sounds like a lot of hard work but there are lots of good commercial reasons why toy brands should try.  For instance, in our research report, Brand Love, we found that people who love a brand are three times more likely to recommend it to others. They are also much more forgiving – they will tolerate twice as many mistakes from a brand they are 100 per cent committed to.

All this love. and therefore loyalty, translates into bottom line sales. Data shows that, whilst repeat buyers only make up around eight per cent of the average online retailer’s customers, they account for a disproportionate share of its turnover – a whopping 40 per cent.

So, how do you build the love for your toy brand among both kids and adults? The first thing to remember is that it’s not about price or customer service. These factors matter but they’re not key to loyalty. Indeed, according to our study, just 33 per cent of marketers think value for money is important for brand greatness, and 34 per cent believe it’s determined by its customer support. Instead, they argue that great brands are those we trust (60 per cent) and those which make us feel good (58 per cent).

What’s more, to move from brand greatness to being loved, your brand needs to also have values which align with the customer’s (55 per cent), be closely tied with the consumer’s identity (38 per cent) and indeed become part of someone’s life (42 per cent).

This involves much more sophisticated marketing – and for a toy brand it’s a massive balancing act. You must be fun and relevant from the child’s point of view, but also fit with the parent or gift giver’s values, so that they feel comfortable – indeed, positively excited – buying the toy or game for another.

And this balance must be achieved time and again, over many years. This means not only consistently living up to values but keeping them relevant for the modern era.

LEGO has done this brilliantly. The notion of ‘playing well’ – through imagination, fun and creativity – worked back in 1932 and can still be seen today in its ‘rebuild the world’ campaign. Another evergreen favourite, Paddington, has also deftly held onto its long-held values – this time of kindness and generosity – refreshing them for each era.

For instance, Paddington in 2017 became a champion for children’s rights for UNICEF. A tactic which will have resonated with those grandparents, who themselves loved Paddington when children in the 1950s.

Getting your values right, and living up to them, so that customers learn to trust you for them, is the fundamental first step on the road to brand love.

Get your free copy of Brand Love here

Louise Findlay-Wilson is the founder and managing director at Energy PR an active PR agency in the toy and children’s sectors

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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