Attention: Toys R Us

Attention:  Toys R Us, Come Back Plan?

Problem
Hmmm…  I read over the MarketWatch article summarizing the new plan to make a come back.  Yes, I agree getting back to Business 101 is crucial for any company struggling to find its place in today’s market and survive.  My question, is that all it takes to: retain customers, satisfy shareholders, attract new/old patrons, increase market share, climbing revenues and world peace?  To keep in the same line of less than earth shattering strategies; I have composed a simpler plan with a 3-step process (LOL for those needing a heads up).
1.      Purchase the Staples Easy Button for $5.99 with expedited shipping.  Spare no expense.  Staples Online Catalog
2.      Open package in the next boardroom or shareholder’s meeting.
3.      Push button…all is perfect.

The Staples plan is to be in jest; however which one makes more sense to truly address the core problem and not just the fundamentals?  Answer:  Neither, but the latter would be a great commercial for Staples.  Hint.  Hint.  Staples, contact me and we can discuss it for a nominal fee.

Now seriously, we all understand milestones must be trending upwards for revenue, profit, customer feedback, market share and shareholder satisfaction over the next two years prior to a nice chunk of debt maturing or the CEO will be in trouble.  My question, is importing Mr. Antonio Urcelay from Europe Toys R Us and his magic, going to work here?  I do hope he succeeds, however I trust he isn’t planning on applying the same tactics he used in Europe just because it worked there.  If the fairly simple “TRU Transformation” plan is a sample of his strategy to bring “shock and awe” to the consumers and investors; better start updating the resume.

Strategic Direction
Think about it…Toys R Us is considered an established American icon and therefore sought after in other countries much like certain foreign products here; therefore a status symbol to own or seen patronizing.  Someone from Italy living in the USA might not be very impressed with your Italian dress shoes because they are considered mass produced, not a market leader and/or low grade quality in Italy.  When dealing with international channels, it greatly depends on the target market’s location and demographics within the location to help determine the strategic approach to apply.  I remember in the 90’s a TV special on the overseas market demand for old American worn out jeans among the affluent in an Asian country.  People were paying $100+ USD equivalent to wear old pair of jeans (donated in the USA), especially the American brand, Levi’s.  Some of these same people were driving 80’s Cadillacs to further up their status level amongst the public.  If you had tried to apply the same successful strategy in the USA by marketing American worn out jeans and boat size gas guzzlers in the 90’s; it would be safe to say you would have failed quickly and miserably.

I grew up in the 70-80’s and Toys R Us was the place to go for the latest and greatest toys, bar none.  Parents flocked there to buy the newest “must have” item for their children, along with obtaining the status symbol of people knowing they shopped where you could only get it first.  Harkin back to the 80’s and recall with me Banana Republic, Chess King, Journeys and Millers Outpost.  Two are gone and the other two are barely on the radar of shopping destination significance.  So does this mean Toys R Us is irrelevant in today’s marketplace and can’t find success among the world of Walmart and Amazon.com?

The Fix
The core issue isn’t adding labor coverage, reducing aisle clutter and simplifying pricing; the underlying issue is returning to what made it a desired shopping destination as it was in the 70-80’s and how to get there.  What is the fix?  The simple answer is in the stories of historical brand reconnection.  Why did GM and Chrysler bring back the Camaro and Charger and what market did they target to sell them?  The generation(s) impacted and far along enough in their careers to have the means to buy a new one.  Brand reconnection not only influences the original generations but subsequent generations.  Think of Lacoste brand: was big, disappeared, returned, big again and thus the cycle of influencing multiple generations starts all over.  Did they target demographics with zero clue of why someone would wear an alligator on their shirt?  No.  They focused on the group that made them big in the first place and still had the means to purchase their product.  So the bottom line advice is to focus on brand reconnection, along with implementing “TRU Transformation” in a two pronged strategy.

I have more detailed ideas on how to implement the strategic marketing side of the two pronged approach, however I think I am done with “free” for this topic.

If Toys R Us or any other executive, c-suite or board needs confidential strategic marketing help; you can contact me via email, phone, meet for Starbucks in Dallas, Texas or fly me out to HQ.

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