Toy Industry Expert: Aunts Deserve Our Attention!
is Founder of Savvy Auntie, Author and Lifestyle Expert
Editor's Note: Earlier this month, I was asked to speak about social and digital marketing at the Toy Industry Association's PlayCon - the annual conference designed for toy industry professionals. I was a bit starstruck. So many extraordinary and veteran toy industry people were there and I was honored to meet and speak with them all.
One name that sticks out as a leader in the industry is Richard Gottlieb, now CEO of Global Toy Experts. There are few who know the industry domestically and globally as Richard does. So when he asked if he might share some thoughts on the toy industry and Savvy Auntie, I immediately welcomed him to do so.
When I read Richard's piece (below) I immediately called him to thank him personally. For him to tell the toy industry that we Savvy Aunties are a valuable and overlooked market for the toy industry - one that has focused almost exclusively on moms, making it challenging for we aunts to know what children need and want - makes me know that what I've been working on at Savvy Auntie is working. We are getting the acknowledgment and credit for being the wonderful secondary caregivers and primary gift givers that we are.
I encourage you to read and respond to Richard's article below. Thank you.
Melanie Notkin, Founder, Savvy Auntie
The Gatekeeper and the Savvy Auntie
I am a full-fledged member of the toy industry. It’s a good place to work. At least other people seem to think so, when I tell people about my occupation, they typically respond by saying: “That sounds like fun.”
Well, actually, it is… some of the time. Other times, not so much. I have tested “washable sidewalk chalk” in the company parking lot only to find out that it didn’t wash off; thrown flying discs that didn’t fly and played any number of not so great games. I have also had some wonderful moments. I remember once being with my colleagues at a new product selection meeting. A toy was demonstrated that was so exciting that all ten of us stood up at the exact same time.
If you stay around the office long enough, however, you have to go to marketing meetings and that’s where we decide who the target consumer is and how to sell to him or her. When dealing with children, particularly small children, the term that is most frequently used is “Gatekeeper.” The “Gatekeeper” is the person in the family who is most likely to decide whether to buy a toy or not…and that person is typically the mother.
Yes, the child has “want” power but if the child is not very old, he or she does not have the power to actually buy what they want. It’s Mom’s decision. Moms can be pretty tough. I can remember as a small child almost (well, not even almost) having a nervous breakdown in a store aisle over a tiny toy rifle. My Mom would not buy it for me and as I remember my Dad was ultimately called in. I think he threatened metaphorically (I hope it was metaphorically) to kill me if I didn’t stop crying. Alas, no tiny rifle for me. (Oh, what could have been…sigh)
But I digress; simply put, the toy industry is infatuated with Moms. Fathers; forget it. Grandparents; not a chance. Aunts and Uncles, they never (and I mean never) come up.
That’s really a shame for all of those mentioned and particularly for the toy industry. Why, because Moms starting out in life are strapped for cash and have a hard enough time making ends meet.
Who has the spending power; Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. But they don’t just have disposable income; they have love and interest but lack the knowledge of what to buy. That is why Savvy Auntie is such an important and cool place.
I am new to Savvy Auntie but I intend to take a message back to the toy industry about all of you Aunts out there who love children and need some attention from us. If you would like to send a message to the toy industry you can do that by commenting here or to my emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We need to hear your story.
Richard Gottlieb is a globally recognized toy industry commentator and CEO of Global Toy Experts, a consultancy and resource for toy industry analysis and strategies. Richard is also a partner in China Ready Limited, a company providing insights and access to the Chinese consumer market. In addition, Richard is Publisher of Global Toy News, the industry resource for toy news, trends and analysis.