Marketing & End User Insights From My 7 Year Old
BeyBlade is the latest thing my 7 year old son and his school friends are into these days. For those who may be unfamiliar, it’s a modern, upgraded version of playing tops that includes battling other players. The game also has versions of it online as well as on the Wii console.
I’m always fascinated by new trends in toys and how the messaging gets out to its young audience, especially outside of traditional advertisement (e.g., TV commercials & coupons). Since I had not seen this product on TV, I decided to ask my son about how this phenomenon has spread in the past few months at such a rapid pace in his school. He unintentionally gave me several insights through his storytelling about marketing and the end user experience (yes, my words and not his). Based on my conversation with my son, I was reminded of some of the core values and experiences that foster a product’s reach and growth:
- Word of Mouth & Story Still Matters – There’s nothing like a compelling story that cuts through the white noise of marketing. My son first heard about the toy a few months ago that intrigued him enough to bring it up in several conversations with our family. Initially, my wife and I had no idea nor interest in this new toy, but his persistence caused us to investigate.
- Try It Out! – Not only did our son begin to play with BeyBlades with his friends, but in addition, a friend lent him one over the weekend while another gave him one to keep. Yes, he was sold on it. This experimentation over the weekend made in him an expert in all the parts associated with the toy, related strategy, and various specialties of each kind of BeyBlade. Who knew?! There’s no greater sell that making something participatory. This usually creates some sense of ownership.
- Familiarity with a Twist Works – People will often invest in improvements or evolutions of a product. In this case, it was ingenious of Hasbro to combine both the tradition of a toy like the top and recent trends in battling products (e.g., Pokemon, Digimon, etc.). It felt like this toy really built itself upon its predecessors while adding on a new twist. That little spark or innovative sprinkle can go a long way!
- Accessibility, Intuition, & Scalability Are Important – My son was able to pick up many of the nuances of the game without too much instruction. (Side Note: It’s always fun to see boys trying to explain rules of the game with limited verbal skills and grunts.) I asked him who played with BeyBlades. He responded to my question with “Everyone. Even girls play with it.” Yes, he is a boy! The point here being that it was simple and inclusive enough for most to participate. This is good when the product is a toy designed for the masses.
- Online or Offline? Yes! – Most of my son’s friends were engaged with the game both online and offline. This reminded me of the importance of both physical and virtual presence. This product offered engagement with real people in two different environments. It’s not about going “all online” nor is it about just physical interaction. Effective marketing and messaging requires us to be present in both worlds.
- Keep it Creative, Fun, & Mobile – Yes, it’s most definitely true. Keep things enjoyable and sharable. A viral campaign must accommodate motion. Asking yourself questions about the end user enjoyment level during engagement and the products mobility are very important for the creative process.
- Passion Often Produces Ownership & Eventually Sales – People will ultimately invest in what or who they value. My son’s passion for the product coupled with our passion for our son ended up in a trip to Toys R’ Us to purchase a couple of BeyBlades. The toy company didn’t have to strongly market to us parents. They knew that the passion of the kids would eventually connect us to their product (i.e., the ones who were able to provide purchasing power.)
Many thanks to Jonathan (my son) for his great storytelling that helped me to refine my understanding of the ever-changing landscape of marketing!