Some idea that came from a brief set by Early Learning Centre for the redesign of their window display. This email was sent from John Lyle when he undertook this brief. This email shows how the market around children is changing and ways to slightly realign the business to better suit the changing market for kids play. There are 13 main points in all.
Ideas for improvement and promotions
- In writing this proposal, we had rather a lot of ideas for promotions and ways to slightly realign the business offer to better suit the changing market for kids play.
- Some of these you may have already considered and dismissed, but hopefully some of the others will give you food for thought and show you the level of thinking and experience we bring as a team to something as ‘on show’ as your window displays.
1. Playing together with kids
- One thing that is lacking in your POS is parental involvement. It is almost certainly a policy decision to not use children with their parents, playing together, but for us, it is one of the key differences in your offer, to that of your peers.
- The play you offer is not just designed to allow the child to be ‘dumped’ for a while to make their own fun, it is more about helping the child develop and grow through a specifically designed route. This takes parental involvement, not parental abdication.
- The biggest single change in parenting in the last ten years, which you have adapted to serve is this parental involvement. This is not reflected in what you do and it could be. With the right image treatment, it could be a sensational approach.
2. Outdoor play
- You have a great offer for outdoor play. The catalogue and website show some exciting structures and some innovative toys, but nothing that allows playing outdoors to be made easier in bad weather.
- We believe you should add play clothes to your offer. We understand that there is a potential conflict with the space of Mothercare, but in the bigger stores, this would be a sure fire winner and one you could test on a small scale anyway.
- We work very closely with Linda and Tomas of Kozikidz who produce Swedish designed kids clothing for the under 8’s. Their strapline is ‘designed in Sweden for playing outdoors’ and they would be a perfect partner for ELC as their quality is high, safety paramount and prices, pretty reasonable. Rather like your own offer!
- From a design perspective, this offers a real viable alternative to only being able to promote indoor play and creativity in the winter months.
- Again, this is backed by a very strong feeling amongst parents to get their kids out doing healthy things (like we were made to do), whatever the weather. You can see how much this is in the public consciousness with the whole move towards a ‘Change 4 Life’ programme being funded by the Government. We have seen a marked change in this attitude in the last three years since we opened BeWILDerwood.
3. Non H& S supervised play morning
- A recurring theme from your managers was how the play morning was rather less fun that it used to be, because of the stupid Health and Safety rules you now have to operate under.
- Our idea is to lift this for one morning a week. Yes you can make the parents sign a disclaimer, but by getting them into the store and playing properly, you get what we describe as ‘the benefit of proximity’. What this means in everyday language is that people who hang about with you and your brand a lot, tend to do a lot more business with you.
- If you get them back into the habit of visiting the store on a regular basis to play with their kids, you will get them buying. And again, we would suggest trialling it and see what parents think.
4. Tea and coffee for parents – and free squash for kids
- Now we appreciate that hot drinks and kids don’t go too well together, so we’re not suggesting you start hosting coffee mornings, but adding drinks for parents may make their play morning a little bit more enticing.
- Adding FREE soft drinks of the healthy variety for kids at any time could make a real difference. Particularly if you can get sponsorship from someone like Robinsons or another credible drinks supplier, who wants to be seen with the ELC brand. For them, it gives them access to your market at a time when people are switching to cheaper supermarket alternatives and for them it gets their perfect target audience hanging out with their product in a brilliant fun environment.
5. Changing facilities for kids
- This is obviously available in some of the larger stores, but it isn’t much publicised. We didn’t see a single poster letting parents know. Maybe it’s meant to be learnt through parental telepathy, but telling parents you have a facility that they can use freely will bring them in. again, it promotes the parents hanging out in your stores, which can only be good for long term growth.
6. Talking, learning and fun
- There are loads of ‘experts’ out there these days and you could become the home to some of them. we’re not saying that you should have Jo Frost Super nanny in every store every week, but someone who is of interest to your parental public could be an interesting draw.
- It could be a play expert, a modelling expert, a craft expert or even someone who could do kiddy singing (if you have a mini karaoke machine to promote) to make it feel fun and give them an opportunity to play.
- Its harder and harder to bring up a child, so may need all the help they can get. It need not be a celebrity, but someone who has experience and solid advice would make a good ‘voice’ for the company.
- You do have this ‘voice’ in place already in Dr Richard Woolfson, but you have to go through hoops to get to the information on the website and there is no evidence of his involvement instore.
7. Bigger promotions
- If the aim of the promotions such as ‘Win 1 of 5 wooden art easels’ is to gather names for the Big Birthday Club, it may be missing a trick as it is not really big enough to capture the imagination. It was some time in looking at the offer in detail, before we worked out that there were only five easels in total! We were looking at five easels per store at £20 each, with 215 stores, wow that’s £21,500!, but no, it’s nearer £100!
- The key to this could be partnership. If you can find the right brand partners to provide bigger prizes, you will get a much bigger take up on the promotion.
- The second simple rule is to incentivise (or KPI) the store staff on getting sign-ups. There needs to be internal competition between the managers that they are rewarded for getting people to sign up.
- The third simple rule is showing the previous winners in store. Few people believe that promotional winners are genuine, so they don’t bother entering in the first place. If you have a mini board, near the counter, showing previous winners, it would give you the opportunity to engage and encourage entry from the potential customers.
8. Split testing for windows
- One advantage of having a large estate is split testing different window designs. We have proposed some ideas that may not be for all and as such we would suggest that you produce some potential designs digitally and try them in a window that is representative of others. That way you can measure the effect of one store against a known set of data (ie what effect the other promotion had in previous period compared to the effect that this promotion had over the previous period).
- If it’s shown to work, then you can roll it out. If you get into real refinement, you could even introduce regional variations as is done by some of the bigger retailers.
9. Boxed in Window areas
- This is feedback directly from store. It seemed logical to them (and to us) to box in the window areas. This doesn’t mean they need to be fully boxed, so you can’t see inside them, but maybe at mid height to allow a more logical layout and consistency by store. It need not be expensive, but possibly something as simple as picket fencing, which would continue the rustic style approach in the store furniture.
10. Art area for kids to display
- In theory, having an art area would be losing some of your sales areas, but in certain stores, you have dead space already that is crying out for content.
- With the old programme Vision On, the highlight was the ‘Gallery’. If you sent your work in, they may display it on the telly. For us budding artists, this was a must see piece of viewing. They always made it clear that none of the work could be returned however and you could do the same.
- If you have an art area, you can display it for as long as you want, and then dispose of it. Maybe you could even do a picture of the budding Picasso posing in front of their picture. Digital cameras ensure that this need not have an onerous ongoing cost and a screen in store could display the stars in rotation.
11. Linked promotions to outdoor play areas (Eg BeWILDerwood)
- We previously suggested that you could ‘hang out’ with other brands with the soft drinks idea, but the same could be said for some of the better known and better quality outdoor play and adventure parks.
- We are obviously biased in recommending BeWILDerwood but in the best BBC language, other parks are available!
- This gives the advantage of linking your imaginative, but predominantly indoor play, with the fun of their outdoor play and vice versa.
- Most will offer family tickets or day tickets and these could make far more appealing promotional prizes. They could also be linked regionally if there was something strong in the area – at the discretion of your obviously intelligent managers.
- You could do much more with events as they give people reason to continually revisit the stores. They do take a little effort – and not always an expensive one at that, but can be very engaging and fun for families.
- You essentially provide the platform for the parents and/or children to join in and have fun with some simple ideas as follows:
- Card making for Mummy. The child comes in with Dad and they either pay to get involved or use the crafting area you set up to produce a kid oriented card for Mummy. What works best in our experience is to make them free and use simple cheap materials to get them into your store and in the habit of crafting as kids.
- An Easter Egg hunt is great fun for kids and could get them rooting out clues, vouchers, sweets, pictures and anything little (and possibly end of line). It’s a lovely way to get people to have a real look around at the store and what you actually do stock.
- Probably more likely than getting Dads to bring their kids in, is Mums bringing their kids into make a card for Dad. As you would have guessed, the idea is pretty similar to the one above.
- Another huge ‘back to the future’ growth area is reading with kids. It’s the best way for children to learn to read and they love it. We have introduced story telling at BeWILDerwood and it is the most popular thing we do on any single day.
- As well as having play sessions, you could introduce a reading session for kids. In the bigger stores, you have enough space to host them, so it would be great to get reading set in such a lovely environment and it builds your brand with really positive associations.
13. And finally
- One area we will criticise and criticise quite hard is in the design of the price reduction stickers. These are plastered all over the creative materials to show their generous 20% price reduction.
- (insert pic of Price reduction – Creative promo and next to Price reduction – unloved stock)
- But the choice of sticker is exactly the same as that for the unloved stock.
- You are treating your Creative materials promo in the same way as you do with your discounted and end of line stock. This is not adding value, it is just cheapening the product and making the potential buyer suspicious as to whether they will ever see the store or the product again if they come back to re-buy it. It may even be having a detrimental effect in some product ranges.
- Sorry to be so harsh, but this is a serious error in our opinion.