How to create a toy craze

New research by Method Design Lab identifies ?nine key elements? required to spark a new craze.
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With collectable toy sales driving toy market growth, one London-based research firm has a mission to find out what makes a collectable popular.

Yann Mathias, creative director at Method Design Lab said: "Through our desire to understand what causes a craze, our research is intended to give a measure of insight into the phenomenon of the toy craze through research into some contemporary case studies. 

"We found nine key elements that help set a craze in motion based on understanding a child’s urge to collect, sort and categorise things."

The research identified qualities like size, with pocket-sized toys likely to be more popular, limited editions and price as important. Having an online counterpart was also noted as a key part of a modern collectable.

Santiago Matheus, co-founder and managing director, Method Design Lab said: "A craze behaves like an ‘outbreak’ seemingly coming out of nowhere and spreading rapidly through the population often leaving us with no understanding of the reasons behind what just happened."

The firm looked at a range of crazes from past and present, including the Star Wars toys, yo-yos, Pogs and Gogos Crazy Bones, and identified nine common collectable characteristics:

Play factor "Both high and lot tech interactivity which allows the child to make up their own play around the product."

Range "Children love to classify and collect objects around themes such as colour, size and shape, so it is important to create a large range to facilitate this natural behaviour and ensure longevity."

Limited edition and distribution "While a craze will often come out of nowhere, deliberate scarcity (limited editions) and distribution can play a large part in helping a craze become a one-season wonder creating an opportunity for follow on products."

Size "As a general rule small is best, pocket sized is even better."

Price point "The price of actual individual items varies and is dependent on the characteristics of the craze; as a general rule £3 - £6 is the current sweet spot."

Accessories "Whilst the core offering of the craze must be enough to grab the attention of children on its own and be small enough to carry around with them, most successful crazes have additional accessories which extend the interactivity and play factor."

Online Component "More than ever, a craze is linked with some kind of online community whether this is created and organised by the distributor or the community itself. Some crazes go so far as to make the online component an integral part of the craze’s appeal."

Update on an older toy craze "Toy crazes have been around for many decades and there are plenty of examples of older crazes becoming popular again, or being updated for a new audience or for new technology." 

Positive message "Whilst it does not seem 100 per cent necessary for a craze to have an overt positive message, it certainly doesn’t hurt their chance of success and many crazes do."

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