STEVE REECE: Same product, different market?

Why one toy might work in one territory, but not in another.
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A kid is a kid, right?

If a child in one country buys and plays with a toy, a child in another country will too, surely? That line of thinking has caused me – and many like me – nothing but frustration over the years. We want our products to sell in as many countries as possible, deliver ROI and maximise our sales and profit.

However, there are often significant differences between markets which can turn a hero product for one into an ‘also ran’ in another, or sometimes make it too hard to adapt a product to a new market. This is undisputable fact.

There are several areas where products can miss the mark. Firstly, we need to consider language factors. We’ve all seen those funny TV shows where a great product name in one country translates as a rude word in another. Beyond this though is another reality. While we might want everyone to speak English, the reality is they don’t. So for text/speech-heavy products there is a need for adaptation. For some products this may be comparatively simple and not too expensive, but for some types of products (like electronic toys), adding new languages can become unviably complicated and expensive.

We also need to consider cultural factors. For instance, in the UK we’re used to targeting typical ‘crash ‘em, bash ‘em’ boys, for whom boisterous, and often violent play patterns are normal. But not so in Germany, where for understandable reasons violence-inducing or emulating play patterns are normally discouraged.

Some licences are not established in all markets, so you may be a global or pan-European company, but not all hot licences work across all your markets.

Finally, sometimes there is a price point/spec mismatch. A high price point million-unit seller in North America won’t always work in Europe, or at least not in all markets in Europe. Without wishing to stereotype any particular market as being cheapskates, there are definitely some where high price points are less likely to work. So on behalf of all those toy folk trying to convince distant overlords that it’s ‘different’ over here, hopefully this can help you win the argument.

Sometimes it’s a case of ‘different strokes for different folks’.

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