Retrocycles: How Indian Throttles Harley

The New York Times: Harley-Davidson “now faces perhaps its most trying challenge in decades. Polaris, an established American company with manufacturing know-how and a revered motorcycle brand in Indian, is quickly making big strides … Indian’s sales grew 17 percent in the second quarter of this year, while Harley’s sales shrank nearly 7 percent. Overall sales for large-displacement bikes, the kind that Harley specializes in, shrank 9 percent in the second quarter of this year.”

“The rebirth started well, with attractive bikes earning positive reviews from enthusiast publications … All Indian motorcycles are built in Spirit Lake, Iowa. While its bikes like the Scout and the just-released Scout Bobber are aimed at younger buyers, most models revel in heritage, with styling and names that hark back to the company’s prewar glory days. They represent, as Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book, an auto research firm, put it, ‘a cool theme married to a modern chassis’ and particularly appeal to buyers with a ‘what have you done for me lately’ outlook on brand loyalty.”

“Inevitably, Indian’s retro approach makes the brand a head-to-head competitor for Harley-Davidson, offering bikes in the touring, cruiser and midsize classes as well as the popular bagger category, or bikes carrying saddlebags but not the full windscreen and gear of a long-distance touring machine … To be sure, there is little chance that Indian will run Harley-Davidson out of business anytime soon. Harley’s sales last year, some 260,000 motorcycles worldwide, generated revenue of $6 billion.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Kronkiwongi: How Lego Fans Fandom

Fast Company: “In a presentation at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on Sunday, Lego’s senior global director of social media and video Lars Silberbauer, broke down how the brand built and approaches that strategy … The two pillars of the brand’s social strategy are based on two core human social needs: the need to play and build together, and the pride of creation … By facilitating, supporting, and promoting the efforts of its fans, Lego amplifies their passion to a global audience, further fanning the flames of fandom everywhere it goes.”

“Silberbauer outlined three examples of how they do this. The first is through a competition called First Lego League, a Lego robotics competition that’s not run by the brand at all, in which up to 70,000 kids worldwide against each other in building Lego robots that can solve challenges. Second was the crowdsourcing platform Lego Ideas, where the brand invites people to propose and build new Lego sets. Like a branded version of Kickstarter, aspiring Lego designers have to get 10,000 supporters for their projects in order to be considered.”

“The third example was the Kronkiwongi Project.” Silberbauer explains: “The insight behind it is that 98% of us were creative geniuses at age three, but the challenge is that only 2% of us retain that level of creativity. With this project, we wanted to reveal and celebrate, not that we get less creative, but the amazing openness and creativity that kids have. So we asked kids from all over the world to tell us what a Kronkiwongi is and to build one for us.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Movies & Toys: Box-Office Bingo

The New York Times: “With the decline in DVD sales speeding up and the box office stalling on a global scale — even as movies become more expensive to make — studios like Warner for the first time are looking to merchandise as an engine. Film companies will release 25 movies with toy tie-ins this year, according to Bloomberg analysis, up from roughly eight annually in the past.”

“More than ever, consumer products are influencing moviemaking decisions — namely, sequels and more sequels. Retailers are more willing to devote shelf space to tie-in products when there is already proven interest … the opportunity is too great for studios to pass up, and Exhibit A is Disney. Over the last five years, operating income at Disney’s consumer products and video game business has roughly gone from $1 billion to $2 billion … Disney is the world’s No. 1 licenser, with themed products generating $56.6 billion in retail sales last year.”

‘It is not a coincidence that Warner, Universal and 20th Century Fox have turned to Disney veterans to invigorate their merchandise divisions.” Pam Lifford, the president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, “spent 12 years at Disney Consumer Products, leaving in 2012, when she was an executive vice president … Jim Fielding, former president of Disney Stores Worldwide, took over consumer products at Fox in January. Vince Klaseus became Universal’s consumer products and video game chief in 2014 after a long run at Disney.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pie Face: A New Era in Toymaking

The Washington Post: “Pie Face, a game in which a dollop of whipped cream is served up from a plastic “throwing arm” to someone who has positioned his face in its path … was the single best-selling item in the games category in 2016 and the fourth best-selling toy overall, according to market research firm NPD Group.”

“Pie Face is a symbol of a new era in toymaking, one in which social media is allowing the industry to marshal you, the everyday shopper, to become a product’s most powerful advertiser. And its mega-popularity has helped fuel a flurry of action from toymakers to create games that offer a ‘shareable moment’ — a brief visual morsel that parents and grandparents will post on Instagram or Facebook and that teens will put on Snapchat or YouTube. It’s a new breed of toy that can’t just be fun for players in real time. It has to be demonstrative. Performative, even.”

“Social trends go boom and bust at warp speed, and so toymakers say that they have to move at a breakneck pace to capitalize on them. Such was the case with Speak Out, another Hasbro creation. In this game, players wear a mouthguard-like plastic mold that stretches their faces to look cartoonish and makes it hard to talk. Players must say a phrase to a partner and get them to guess their garbled words. The idea for it was sparked by Web videos of people putting in dental mouthpieces and getting the giggles when they tried to speak clearly.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Nintendo Switch: It’s All in the Eyeballs

The Wall Street Journal: “Videogame powerhouse Nintendo Co. started as a playing-card maker more than a century ago. That is where its latest generation of architects found inspiration for a feature of its new Switch console: games where two players look straight at each other, not at a screen.” Yoshiaki Koizumi, the Switch’s general producer, explains: “When you play cards, you look opponents in the eye to read their strategy, and that is fun. And we realized no videogame devices have been able to offer that kind of entertainment.”

“While the console can still be used in traditional videogame fashion by a single player sitting in front of the TV, the company is also releasing a collection of games such as Ping-Pong that two players can play facing each other. Between the rotating and vibrating of the controllers and the sounds from the machine, players are supposed to get the sensation of paddling a ball back and forth.”

“Mr. Koizumi said he hoped buzz about the Switch would spread from people playing it in public, just as Pokémon Go, a smartphone game developed by a Nintendo affiliate, turned into a global phenomenon last summer as players roamed sidewalks and parks hunting virtual creatures.” He comments: “I want people to share the fun of playing games not just over social media but also on street corners. When we see people playing the Switch at various places and with different styles, then we would call the Switch a success.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Daily Rewards: Key to Gamer Engagement

The Wall Street Journal: “Daily rewards have emerged as the indispensable tool for hooking players in a field of more than a million game apps … Extracting as much time as possible out of users is critical because games like ‘Galaxy of Heroes’ make money selling virtual goods. The more people play, the more likely they will spend.”

“Companies have myriad ways to encourage routine use, such as a monthly calendar that tracks a player’s progress or weeklong side missions with extra-valuable rewards. The latest mobile-game hit, ‘Super Mario Run,’ rewards players for competing daily against friends … Daily-reward initiatives aren’t foolproof, though. One mistake is giving away so much players don’t need to spend. Another is punishing players for taking breaks.”

“The most alluring daily hooks give surprise rewards. Not knowing what to expect excites people, said Michael Hanus, a professor at the University Nebraska … Exclusive offers, such as the opportunity to unlock a rare character during a one-week event, tap into people’s natural fear of missing out, he said.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Digital Dolls: Toying With Children & Privacy

The Wall Street Journal: “A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission alleges that two talking dolls—My Friend Cayla and I-Que Intelligent Robot, both made by Genesis Toys Inc.—collect and use personal information from children in violation of rules prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices.”

“According to the complaint, Genesis Toys doesn’t get the consent of children’s parents before collecting children’s voice recordings and other personal data while they are using the toys. Genesis then sends the voice recordings to a separate company … that may use the data for other products …My Friend Cayla, a $60 interactive doll that users can talk to, uses speech recognition, a microphone and speakers to understand what a user is saying. The internet-connected toy submits the user’s queries through a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone app to come up with responses.”

“For both toys, the terms of service are difficult to find, and the documents give few details about what information is collected from the children, how it is used, or where it ends up.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why Did Lego Hinder Product Sales?

The Washington Post: “Business has been so brisk at the world’s most profitable toymaker that Lego last year did something unusual: It began looking for ways to discourage customers from buying its products. The Danish company scaled back its advertising efforts amid a 25 percent rise in annual sales … It simply couldn’t make enough toys to satiate demand in North America, and needed a break while it boosted capacity at its factories and increased its workforce by nearly 25 percent.”

“But executives at Lego are hoping to ramp up production in time for this year’s holiday season … The company is buildings its first factory in China, and is expanding existing plants in Mexico, Hungary and Denmark. Lego also hired 3,500 employees in the first half of the year, increasingly its workforce to 18,500.”

Lego CFO John Goodwin comments: “In the past decade we have seen LEGO sales growth in the double digits year after year. We are of course very excited about this development. [But] the high demand also puts a strain on our factories around the world.”

atlas_HkMSMX2o@2x

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail