Fast enough to ride the trend?

We pride ourselves on being able to unpack problems or opportunities with a client and then develop a brief to focus in on what is needed to solve it. A route to doing that rapidly is building a long-term relationship, so that trust and honesty (on both sides) let’s everyone get to the point and get moving.

One of those clients for us is Keycraft, an impulse toy company we’ve been closely working with for nearly a decade.

In markets like toys, where products and trends are also moving at a super-fast rate, strong relationships are even more essential to getting things right. We have worked with many clients to face the uber-critical scrutiny of children who will cut a brand or product idea to pieces with one dismissively-bored shrug. Toy trends and crazes come and go. By the time you’ve seen ‘the latest thing’, it’s too late. You’ll never develop and get new product in store before the storm has blown over (unless of course, all you want is a cheap copy).

Our long-term relationship with Keycraft means that we join and participate on Board meetings, and not just the ones that might involve direct discussions about brand performance, digital marketing or product development. We sit side-by-side each month to understand finance issues, operations, supply chain and HR. In return we bring our knowledge of creativity and design. So, when a recent new product opportunity came to the table, we all worked together to think through and prototype a solution that went to market in three weeks and became a best seller in its first quarter of sales.

Slime for kids is a global craze, so it’s not profitable enough to just throw out a me-too. The question at the Board meeting was how might we combine other features to capitalise on the interest, but minimise risk. Collectables is something we know more than a thing or two about, so the potential to add this aspect into a slime product was explored. In a little over two hours the team had sketched a range of 24, each to use a unique name, character face and collectable wrist band – giving the product an all-important way in which kids could display and share their collected purchases with friends. With finance in the room we had the price points that had to be met, with marketing there we knew the limitations on POS and the distribution expectations, with operations involved we understood the manufacture and shipping options.

By having senior decision-makers co-creating in the room with us, we came away with a creative brief that our team could move straight to a solution. This was not about creating three visual routes ready for another round of meetings. There isn’t the time. In three weeks we had brand, product designs and marketing ready to go – including photography, print and animation. The first quarter saw upwards of 600K units sold, with three of the individual SKUs entering the company’s annual best sellers lists without even a full year of sales recorded. The commercial success came from a creative partnership, based on trust. It was a genuine collaborative situation that drew on all the skills and knowledge inside the clients business, and ours, to enable us to make the decisions and get to market fast.

View the full case study here.

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