New Pathways to Success in the Industry: Toy Companies can Benefit from a “Toy Diaspora”

January 22, 2019 | Is the traditional toy store a relic of the past? According to a new report by The Toy Association and ProdigyWorks, consumers are demanding new venues (both digital and brick-and-mortar stores), new business models, and new occasions to encounter toys –  presenting opportunity for toy manufacturers and toy retailers.

Toy News Tuesday’s new series, “New Pathways to Success in the Industry,” takes a deep-dive into new ideas suggested by ProdigyWorks as to how the industry can capitalize on the changing marketplace and appeal to new and existing consumers. In The Toy Association’s new report, Toy Manufacturing and Retail Solutions – the Future,” ProdigyWork’s futurists identified 12 key opportunities, centered around five themes: “A Toy Diaspora,” “Everybody Plays,” “Experiences,” “Speaking to Consumer Values,” and “Looking Beyond the Thing: Service Opportunities.”

“Successfully moving into a new era can only happen if toy companies and retailers are willing to step out of their comfort zones to explore a new normal for the industry,” said Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “The ideas presented under ProdigyWorks ‘toy diaspora’ theme offer innovative approaches for toy companies and retailers to introduce new products and reach niche buyers.”

Opportunities under the “toy diaspora” theme include:

  • Mobile Toy Stores and Experiences: Inspired by food trucks, pop-up stores, and national tours, the ToyMobile is a retail shop and/or toy experience mounted in a truck. The ToyMobile could be sponsored by a retailer, manufacturer, or collaboration of smaller industry players to give people an engaging experience and retail opportunity, and showcase leading-edge toy innovations. ToyMobiles on tour could appear in town centers, farm markets, shopping centers and malls, and at festivals, among other places, bringing an immersive experience to consumers, where people have their first chance to try new toys, or customize and build their own toys.
  • Airport Playrooms: Many airports have moved to offer more experiences and services to passengers that sometimes endure long waits for flights. The airport play space could be an area of carefully curated collections of toys, with options for purchasing the products. Consumers would have the chance to try out a toy before deciding whether to buy it. Industry players could sponsor the playrooms. Notably, this play space idea extends to any place where families are looking to keep kids entertained, such as car dealerships, fitness centers, childcare centers, grocery stores, and malls.
  • Geocaching Campaigns: Geocaching is an experience that’s like a scavenger hunt. Participants use GPS to try to find objects hidden in public, outdoor places. Considering the buzz around Pokémon Go™, it’s clear consumers can enjoy the outdoor adventure of geocaching, in this case with the “finds” being toys. Toymakers or retailers could geocache pre-release toys in interesting and fun public locations. This becomes a powerful form of brand activation. Those designing the campaigns could encourage social media sharing, which would further create buzz around products and brands.
  • Interactive Toy WishBooks: With the help of artificial intelligence software, parents would be able to customize a safe and engaging shopping portal for their kids to discover toys online. Children could explore toys with virtual tools and simulations and tag them to their wish list. The WishBook could showcase toys with video and interactive experiences. The service could include a savings mechanism, where contributions from Grandma, an allowance, or earned money could accumulate until the child had enough for a toy. Toy WishBooks would not take away from the brick-and-mortar toy store experience, but could be an expanded way to market and sell a vast array of fun and engaging toy experiences throughout the year.

The new report complements a first phase completed in early 2018 in which The Toy Association commissioned ProdigyWorks to determine how the toy industry will look over the next decade and to explore transformational ideas about toys and play. At the time, ProdigyWorks concluded that the toy industry has significant an opportunity to redefine toys and play for the next generation and shared its findings in “The Future Toy Consumer and Toy Retail Ecosystem, Part I & Part II.”

The full reports are available free to Toy Association members at

Next month, Toy News Tuesday will feature an article exploring the second series theme, “Everybody Plays.”