Recently, Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari talked about why he started Chuck-e-cheese in an NPR show, How I Built This. To summarize his thoughts as we understand: it was about creating a complete experience zone.
Atari was selling games to arcades (one-time revenue event for Atari) who were using them for years and charging per use (recurring revenues for Arcades). So, it was obvious that real money is in engaged users. So, at Chuck-e-cheese, kids could play in the arcade, have food and hang out longer and thus engage more in more than one way.
This is exactly what Toys’R’Us, Lego, Mattel and Hasbro did not do well. They did not engage their users in all ways possible. They stuck to what worked 20 years ago and kept making it better.
We have, in our small ways, tried to reach out to executives of these companies and find ways to partner with them (remember: we too want to engage users in all possible ways). But lack of a cohesive and direct digital strategy was missing. Or, what was missing a clear communicable version. Maybe it was us, but the results & news hint above speculation may not be a weak one.
Toys’R’Us may be getting some of the future actions right. As the WSJ article mentions, “Its remaining locations would be reconfigured to be more experienced-based, incorporating amenities such as in-store play areas, they added”.
Our suggestion would be to engage with the digital ecosystem more deeply. Startups may be able to help innovate faster. They too need these established giants.
In our industry (products for kids), brick-n-motor and digital cannot build a real business on our own. The engagement has to be omnichannel. Something that Disney seems to be getting right.
So, if anyone is listening, hope you engage with us!
Cover picture curtsey Mike Mozart/Creative Commons