Every company a decade old would know that the marketing strategy for today have evolved. It can be made highly influential with the vast usage of the web as an advertising or entertainment tool. Both adults and children are spending much more time on the internet today. We now surf the web at bandwidth we’d categorize to be science fiction few years ago. And watching that movie playback on your mobile device in color was something only Mister Spock would deem possible. Welcome to the future.
The amount and value of entertainment content today have increased but yet remained challenging competitive. Creative tools used to produce this quality content have also improved drastically over the last few years. We’ve gone from old CRT cathode tubes to HDMI cabled LCD or plasma TV. The Game & Watch of today is a dual touch screen monitor with high speed WiFi that lasts hours. And one can video call mom in Singapore and chat in real time without time latency over iChat. And even add in brother and sister from a different venue in that same window and not suffer quality deterioration. That old Windows Millenium or OSX 9.0 machine couldn’t do this. CPUs have gone from average single core 333MHz to 3GHz quad core. And to see flash rams at 32GB as compared to the old 1.22MB Floppy disk would make ET feel home.
So what does this mean to Stikfas? Or LEGO or Playmobil for this sudden evolution? One thing for certain, the face of entertainment have changed. Once upon a time we enjoy the company of few, playing Monopoly sitting in a square table and throwing dice. Losing that dice and having to crawl under the table or couch to retrieve it was best part of the entertainment. Right? Its not about collecting the $200 when you pass GO. Its the ‘way’ we play our games that have changed. The challenge today goes beyond the table but onto the web. You play with or against players who seats in another continent who speaks a different language, but on a mutual product. THIS uniqueness of being-able-to is what many find ‘cool’.
The ‘cool’ factor plays a massive role in how consumers shop today. It used to be value of the dollar against its practicality or need. If its expensive we delay the purchase, and search for a bargain somewhere else. This lay true for household essentials like a fridge in summer or regulated water heater in the middle of winter. Instead, today’s demand is generated from product coolness valued at ‘not that you must have’, but you’re cool if you ‘do have’. Let me explain.
Society driven market tends to give the able consumer that psychological winning edge as compared to somebody who are not able to afford it. In the year 1950, when you say I have 10 kids and the other say I got 2. Society would think that you have the happier family. This may also come with a presumable reason that the 2-child family stays at 2 because they cannot afford bringing another 8! This mentality of being able or not being able to today translates not to the ability based of income but ‘coolness’ that you actually have that certain luxury. Its a statement to own something that others can only dream. And THAT is what is driving sales in the 21st century. The childish ‘I am first to own it’ is another losing behavior that is uncontrollable beyond the human mind. Arnold Schwarzeneger was the 1st guy to drive a Hummer in California streets. Isn’t that cool? And guess what. It started a business trend never thought imaginable. People follow because they think its cool at no matter what price it might be.
When we know what consumers want and would give to own it, that’s when the game begins for the toy industry. Character role playing is still the core in generating the theme or energy of a product. Outwitting your virtual opponent with cool game moves also helps sell the idea. Given the digital age, almost any virtual maneuver is possible. But if you can make it talk. Give it life. Give it soul. Give it CHARACTER. Chances are, there’ll be followers.
Mickey Mouse is cute. I want it. But what if its Mortimer Mouse?
Which came first? Mickey Mouse or the law of Intellectual Property Ownership (IPO). Technically, at the time it was drawn its Mickey. But Walter was smarter to register and patent his character. He visioned it to be a money making business to sell that character in its shape, sound or form even if its on a stand still. This IPO patent gives him all rights to say that Mickey is his creation. Those big ears, voice, mouse on two feet and shoes, with a an oversized red pants and signature 2 button pocket is all his. Those button nose and three fingered glove adds to its character goofiness which is all part of the IPO. So since 1928 of Steamboat Willie, Mickey becomes a living character which we know today.
Steamboat Willie is the first movie that totally combined sound, music, and dialogue in one.
Character creation is key in giving the product soul. It makes the decision of ‘which toy to have’ easier not just for the kids but also for the adults shopping for a birthday gift. This is where Stikfas falls apart from the rest. A new Stikfas fan here sent me a tweet post after he recived his pack, “Stikfas is like an open source toy!” The patented ball and socket articulation gives it the ability to strike various dynamic poses and mimic humanly body gestures no other toy can. This is the core of the product. Its how Ban YJ have visioned it to be. This ‘open source’ affect on the ability to create your own character is its ‘cool’ factor. Stikfas understands the philosophy underlying Web 2.0, where the producer provides platform, libraries of parts and scripts and puts the act of content creation directly to the hands of its user. You can build it to be whatever you want. The line of pictures and videos posted on various websites are proof of its success.
“The very backbone of our business is IP. When we create a new product, we first put our money into protecting the IP before anything else, including manufacturing or marketing. IP management works hand-in-hand with our business strategies.” Says Ban YJ at a New Intellectual Property Management Programme in Singapore (2007).
I am a distributor for The Netherlands. But if given the opportunity, I’d love to attend Stikfas’ creativity meeting. I foresee attendees as a combination of game designers, marketers, managers, etc. The meeting’s purpose? To character role play. Of course one reason for this is to generate ideas for new games or ways to revise classics like the Black Ops. What an awesome way to foster innovation. Even if it doesn’t churn out the new ideas for product design, there’s no better way to reward the team who makes the company what it is today.
Thus the key. Character innovation takes time to happen. Even Walter had to go back and forth changing Mickey’s design. He even changed the name! But when it hits, the gears will roll on its own. Keep scribbling those ideas on paper or that chalk board Mister Ban YJ, for these are the gears which will form ways for the great new play.