It is vital to know what drives particular products within a particular industry. What’s challenging is understanding how it is done within a young one and recognising it within the context of what market you’re directly dealing with.
It is a sad and common trend to see a lot of designer toy retailers in Australia fall off the map in the past few months. Although there are other limitations beyond their control preventing them from being successful (the biggest factor being that Australia is such a small country with a culture saturated with everything), a lot of them missed one really vital point.
The designer toy industry was built on the platform that it wasn’t the toy that’s being sold, it’s the lifestyle that comes with it. Think of the common stigmas attached to contemporary, urban and freelance art and you’ll get what I mean.
Customers and friends I know who are medium to heavy consumers of designer toys display them as trophies symbolising their adoption to this lifestyle. It adds a bit of ‘edge’ to their rooms with a piece of artwork in such an unconventional medium. Designer toys are a way of making art more accessible and affordable and because of this, this lifestyle is now heavily propagated and celebrated.
The common mistake that these retailers make was that they dedicated a lot of resources to sourcing these amazing products, only to find they are missing half the ingredients needed; selling the idea that even you, the student or accountant, can label yourself as a culture purveyor. This idea can be sold through:
- the careful manner you merchandise things (glass displays, how they can fit into your normal living space using common furniture)
- how you educate your customers (common pitches include limited quantities, references to what other things the artist has done, showing customers the details, and reminding them that they are buying an affordable and unique piece of artwork.)
- marketing how the toys play a part and create value for this lifestyle (customisation shows, gallery shows, demonstration shows, clubs, artist meets)
- diluting your product range – can you realistically turn over $10-15,000 worth of toys a week? add a bit of relevant fashion, accessories, books and the like.
- utilising the medium most people of that demoraphic explore: the internet!!!
This niche industry is a raging success overseas, especially in Asia and the States. I hope it will someday gain some prominence in Australia.