TFE/TFE Licensing, October 2019

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Analyzing the Future of Play BY JENNIFER

hen Hasbro put out its Millennial edition of Monopoly, in which players make their way around the board collecting experience points, it elicited mixed reviews. Hasbro did, however, get one thing right: for today’s consumer—millennials in particular— experience matters. More importantly, for today’s toymakers and retailers, this generation of young parents consider experience, sometimes even more so than price and assortment, to be the most important factor in their shopping and buying experience—regardless of channel. According to global market research by Accenture on the shopping behaviors of 6,000 consumers, of which 1,707 were millennials, across eight countries, millennials’ spending is projected to grow to $1.4 trillion annually, beginning in 2020, and represent 30 percent of total retail sales. Sixty-eight percent of all millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience that transitions effortlessly from smartphone to personal computer to physical store in their quest for the best products and services. AT RETAIL The importance of experience at retail is rising in the minds of consumers, and a lack of focus on it can make or break a store’s overall performance. In looking back at the many factors that led to Toys “R” Us’ (TRU) bankruptcy last year, experience played a role. And it’s something parent company Tru Kids Brands is looking to change when it makes its official, albeit physically smaller, return this fall. The company recruited b8ta, the software-powered experiential retailer, to launch its new store experience. With a smaller footprint of about 6,500 square feet, the stores will feature interactive experiences that will continually evolve throughout the year in interactive, playground-like environments, centered around product discovery and engagement. While it’s yet to be seen how consumers will respond to TRU’s return, CAMP, which opened the doors to its flagship location last fall in New York City and will expand to five locations by year’s end, is one example of an experiential toy store done right. Six months into opening, 35 percent of the retailer’s transactions were from repeat customers. A self-described family experience store, not a toy store, CAMP has set mont up a unique structure. While the front of its store is inspired by a Ver

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LYNCH general store that co-founder and CEO Ben Kaufman (former CMO of BuzzFeed) visited as a kid, behind a secret door lies a rotating themed world filled with activities, toys for purchase, and events designed to appeal just as much to parents as kids. These range from hands-on play areas and mommy-and-me yoga sessions to music hours, cooking classes, date night drop-offs, and more. Since opening, it’s rotated through two themes, a traditional summer camp theme and a cooking camp theme. Up next: travel camp. “You come through the tunnel and you’re on an airport runway,” says Kaufman. “Then you go to London, take a train to Paris, and then you’re in Australia, Africa, and back in New York before you exit the store. It’s an around-theworld tour.” The secret door isn’t just cool for kids though, it also serves a function, allowing the retailer to keep its front store open while CAMP switches over themes. With plans to continue its national expansion in place, the retailer is also rolling out a new e-commerce site that will mirror its instore experience. “We combine planned products, and we let the kids play with the actual stuff and our website’s going to mirror that where we’re actually going to make it so that kids can play with toys on our website,” adds Kaufman. Target and Walmart are also working harder these days to create a seamless in-store and online shopping experience for its toy shoppers. Beginning October 4 (i.e. Star Wars Triple Force Friday and the first Frozen Fan Fest), Disney kicks off a new partnership with Target with 25 permanent shop-in-shops featuring music, interactive displays, photo opportunities, and a seating area where families can watch Disney movie clips and Park events. The new shop-in-shops also feature an enhanced Disney assortment of more than 450 items, including more than 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail locations. Walmart, meanwhile, has been teaming up with digital-first brands that invite visitors to not only interact with their favorite content creators but play test the toys inspired by them for the first time before buying. pocket. watch, for example, has teamed up with the retailer for in-store events around Ryan’s World and HobbyKidsTV. This year, Walmart will boost its marketing efforts around holiday 2019 by further expanding its toy assortment (a 25-percent increase in toy exclusives) and its Walmart Toy Lab, a digital playground where kids can

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