This is a book for and about those who play with toys - about modern users, about their background and motivation for choosing certain toys to play with.
When I call them “modern”, I do so because they belong to a generation which sees toys as consumer goods.
The user is therefore also a consumer who has some kind of consumer culture. This means that the individual consumer - through the toy - demonstrates and hands down his world image, values, morals, norms and behaviour to the next generation.
But this also means that some users distinguish themselves from other users in their preference for certain material and immaterial products (including toys) over others.
This should make the aim and meaning of the book clear.
The aim of the book is to define - to the extent that this is possible - which toys children and their parents prefer to play with in this final decade of the 20th century. It seems that certain things are more highly valued and more important to some to children than they are to others!
- copies of real objects
- copies of historical items and objects, but can also be
- imaginary things, based on both reality and imagination
A toy can also be:
- an analogue for an object about which the person-at-play seeks cognition, knowledge and experience through play - an analogy which in play replaces the object itself.
It is therefore well-known and broadly accepted that consumers view and react differently to different toy products - their responses are even different to the same products - so it might be a good idea to base an overview on the consumer segment on consumer elasticity.
However, this is difficult to carry out in practice because it involves measuring the very small and individual differences and similarities which are definitive for the mutual differences between consumer groups and the differences between consumers and products and which differ often only slightly from one version to another.
Despite these difficulties, it is possible to identify the significant differences in particular between different families’ attitudes to their future and to children’s toys and the games they play.
By means of analyses, it is possible to make the correlation between selection and non-selection of toys and play and certain patterns of behaviour and attitude which are common within certain lifestyles.
We end up, therefore, with interpretations which can help to explain differences and similarities in human behaviour and imagination. However, these are interpretations based solely on combinations of theory and empiricism.
The difficulties mentioned are further complicated by the inherent limitations of the value of interpretation in any kind of description of reality simply because reality in relativistic terms can never be categorical. Even so, interpretation can give thought-provoking results when it is analysed as if it were categorical.
I decided to illuminate this in this book by relating two of the classical, traditional basic segments.
The book includes:
- A positioning study of toys and communication of this by describing:
- the use of toys in play
- toy preferences
- toys’ benefits/advantages.
I regard the position of any given toy as the consumers’ understanding of the image of the toy - which has been formed on the basis of the toy’s objective and subjective characteristics or attributes - relative to the consumers’ attitude to the image of directly competing and similar competitor products.
- A description of the users’ general understanding of the toy market’s products where a variety of user groupings:
- indicate the desired benefits/advantages of the toy
- express the needs associated with acquisition of the toy
- demonstrate a pattern of loyalty in relation to certain toys.
Product positioning is based on an understanding of how users and consumers view and collect information about toys and how this information is stored in consumer consciousness. We assume that, in a situation where he has to choose, the user’s evaluation of any given toy is based on:
- prior knowledge of the toy in question
- other factors which can satisfy the current need
- associations to the situations in which he can imagine the toy could be utilised.
There is, therefore, a clear connection between the social and psychological background on the one hand and product positioning on the other - which is solely due to the consumers’ individual background for handling information leading to a decision about their choice of toy.
This book touches only sporadically on other traditional forms of segmentation - and only when this is deemed necessary for the sake of outline and unity.
These other traditional forms of segmentation are those for:
- brand new toy products/concepts
- price decisions
- advertising decisions and
- distribution decisions.