August 14th, 2009 by Andy Didyk
Saddening. Sickening. Soul-swallowing.
Three phrases that describe the end of summer, and the most dreaded of all phrases in a young person’s life: back to school.
This is a truth universal, as sure to come as the changing of the seasons. It’s been embedded in our nation’s ethos since the industrial revolution and ensuing urbanization led to the closure of the one-room schoolhouses and the end to (most) home schooling. And now, in a desperate play to gain market share in a weak economy, the place where kids “don’t want to grow up” suddenly transformed into another Target wanna-be (and not in a good way). What’s next? Despite it’s optimistically named signage, Toys ‘R Us’ “Back 2 Cool” program makes a paltry swipe at the lucrative back-to-school market and ultimately weakens the Toys ‘R Us brand.
I can just imagine the nightmarish scenario for thousands of kids across the country, their eyes sparkling with promise and wonder as they roll up into the Toys ‘R Us parking lot, anticipating the delights within. When suddenly, the bottom of their world drops out and they realize what their Mommy or Daddy really brought them in for: pencil boxes, washable markers, and #2 pencils.
Toys ‘R Us selling school supplies is as ridiculous to me as the Mercedes-Benz minivan [full disclosure: I own a Honda Odyssey]. The best thing a brand can do is to become more narrow instead of broad (unless you happen to be a Wal-Mart), to further define a portfolio of products and services by who the company really is. One thing about a company that has an imbalance favoring growth is that the brand gets ignored and trampled as top management seeks to drive up stock prices and profits. Doing so for Toys ‘R Us means clearing out a huge area of floor space and adding school supplies to try to capture a few more dollars, instead of offering a consistently fun and unique shopping experience. A place where kids “don’t want to grow up” should be filled with fun and toys that they simply can’t get anywhere else. Calling a jumble of cardboard bins filled with cheap imported school supplies doesn’t exactly seem to fit the bill. “Back 2 Cool” it most certainly is not.
This entry was posted on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 2:25 pm and is filed under branding, consumer products, consumerism, marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.