After eight years of financial loss, Toys R Us has finally collapsed. The well-known retailer no longer has the appeal required on the high street to survive. So, what did the retailer fail to do?
Today’s consumers have changed rapidly. As a brand you need to move with the times and look at how you can resonate with and excite your target audience. Toy’s R Us failed to do this. It wasn’t that parents stopped indulging their children, or that children stopped parting ways with their pocket money to buy toys. Plenty of toy stores continue to thrive. It seems that a mixture of failing to invest in its online offering and neglecting to make the in-store experience attractive have led to the closure.
It’s always interesting to draw parallels from these sorts of incidents with how we work in communications to support brand elevation and momentum. Being complacent is the stairway to collapse in today’s fast paced and demanding business environment.
Whether you are a consumer or business, when you buy a product or service you expect experience, value and innovation.
When we work with brands to support their positioning and profile in the market there some key areas we focus on when advising them on their brand communications strategy, all of which are aligned to the mistakes and challenges faced by this once loved retailer.
Audience: You need to understand your audiences and what they are looking for. Today’s children want electronic games and innovative new activities. The world we live in has digitised and so have audiences and markets. Its important you look at this and what your audiences want from you and continually evolve your approach.
Experience: People want to experience a brand. What do you stand for, how can you engage your audiences and take them on a journey? This personalised approach is key and something Toy’s R Us failed to do. In-store experience and engagement between staff and customers, opportunities to try things out and play in break-out zones could have enhanced the brands position. We work with clients looking to engage their end audiences through new content and experiences they offer. You need to be adding value to the end customer, your product or service alone is no longer enough.
Competitor market: Reviewing your competitor market is key to demonstrating value and achieving market share. We are constantly reviewing our client’s competitors to understand what they are doing that is different and how they are targeting the market. Failure to do this results in a tired brand, unaware of other market innovations and competitors. It’s hard being at the top, as there will always be a challenger. For Toys R Us there were many, and this finally stole their market.
Value: What value are you bringing to your customers? This isn’t just about price of goods or services, this is about the additional value they receive from you, linked to experience and other offers available in the market. Reviewing this is key to staying fresh and competitive. Toy’s R Us were sadly priced out of the market by more affordable digital toys and stores, however some innovative new approaches and experiences could have differentiated them and helped to keep this high street institution afloat.
Creativity: How are you being different? What is your purpose and focus? We often ask our clients this and seek to understand their view point and what new innovations they are working on. Creativity can be everything from product innovation, through to engaging with customers via a new channel and in a more innovative way so they feel they understand the brand, and ultimately become loyal customers.
Brand buy in is a key component when building an effective communications strategy. What do audiences think of you as a brand: traditional and out of touch, or innovative and forward thinking?
It’s not too late to make a change and refresh your brand image. Unfortunately for Toys R Us it was.