No Messing Around: Girl Power at the Toy Store

January 30 2014

with contributor anniegee

Goldie Blox is a toy brand that is assertively staking their claim to "disrupt the pink aisle" by providing young girls the resources and visual language to engage in the early stages of engineering, which is typically boys’ turf. While many of the stores selling the product are smaller boutique toy stores, Goldie Blox has also infiltrated the system at large. Both Toys R Us and Target sell the toys either online or in store, indicating that the mainstream market for little girls is looking for the brand of girl power that Goldie Blox delivers.


Their motto – “Toys for Future Innovators” – differentiates this brand from the majority of toys targeted to young girls. It's been awhile since we've seen astronaut or doctor Barbie, and even in the old days, professional Barbie seemed more like a costume than a call to a professional identity. The Goldie Blox packaging is "cute", and features Goldie with her big sparkling eyes, but the visuals aren't as saturated in pink glitter, butterflies, and rainbows as typical girls’ toys. Ditto the colors and typography, which are fun and engaging without going overboard. And they know how to use the digital space wisely. Last year, Goldie Blox put out an ad spot that went totally viral. The video showcases three young girls who are totally bored with the frills of their current girly toys. Inspired, they use everything from a pink feather boa to a spinning Barbie to build a multi-layered "Princess Machine" inspired by the Rube Goldberg Machine beloved by who? Boys and men! Take that, guys!


Debbie Sterling, Goldie Blox CEO (and real life mechanical engineer) has definitely seized a market opportunity. Growing up in a small town, Sterling didn’t even realize that engineering was something that existed, let alone something she could do. Since getting her degree, she realized that if she didn’t know her options, lots of other little girls didn’t know theirs, either. Consequently, her brand has been lauded as a feminist brand but also criticized for the same reasons. This is one reason I always say that when you approach brand analysis, you need to come at it from a neutral perspective, and see in a pure way what the brand has to tell you. This is the basis of being a good brand analyst.

No matter what your politics, the whole world should be presented to young girls, so that playtime encourages them to become strong, thinking young women. You can be a princess, dress up, wear pink, and still be an engineer. Goldie Blox encourages girls to be  multi-faceted people; both "girly" and smart. As Sterling said, "We believe that femininity is strong and girls will build the future — literally." Is everything perfect? Have we finally reached the pinnacle of gender equality? Has Goldie Blox totally revolutionized the toy industry? Of course not. However, the conversation has started; moves are being made, and that’s just as important. And from a branding perspective, it’s always good to be first out of the gate in claiming a new space. Education is always required; think of Apple in the early days. And look where they are now!

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Market Trending: Kmart Raps Its Way to the Top

August 23 2013

Retailers go through cycles in which they gain and then lose market share. Of course, the reasons for these cycles are complex, ranging from everything to being out of touch with consumer tastes and trends, downturns in the economic cycles to making mistakes in repositioning their offerings and brand voice. Currently suffering mightily in public perception and market confidence is the Kmart franchise. In 2012 they shut down eighty-four stores, but they have been dealing with declining sales for the past six years.

Market trends have shown the business’ decline is mainly due toe loss of popularity among younger consumers. Feeling desperate to staunch their losses and bad PR, and In order to appeal to a hipper teen audience, Kmart is now trying to refine their brand image by teaming up with viral sensation Da Rich Kids, a group of young rappers all younger than age thirteen. Kmart asked the group to create a rap song about the discount store and thus “My Limo” was born.

    

                                                       Image via www.fastcocreate.com

My Limo has already received millions of views and is featured in the retailer’s latest television commercial. This new partnership may push Kmart back up the ranks and sway younger generations to shop at KMart, but the affiliation seems a bit out of left field. In addition, there have been a few reports of older customers being unhappy that the rap commercial portrays only African-American children promoting a brand that is known for low prices. However, the ads are too new to calculate exactly how big or small the effect has been so far with any of their target audiences.

Keep in mind that brands must be credible in order to cement consumer loyalty and maintain longevity in the marketplace. Kmart would need a family of products with legs that are in alignment with the spirit of My Life and that would continue to attract the same type of audience. A flash in the pan doesn’t work long term at retail, as it’s critical to maintain your brand voice in everything you do. Hence the consistent success of brands such as Burberry, Diesel, and Vans, who really know what they are doing in this regard.

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