Fad or Famine: How to Keep From Being a “One-Hit Wonder” in Business

Posted on July 28, 2010

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examined the difficulty of being a business geared towards children. A look through toy history – from Cabbage Patch Kids to Micro Machines – demonstrates the short attention span of this large market share. Inevitably, children get bored, and when they do, they move from one toy to the next without a second thought. Every toy company that starts out wants to be the Barbie or the Lego; no one wants to end up as the Popple.

At present, that is the very dilemma facing Silly Bandz, makers of the animal bracelets that are currently the most popular kids’ product on the shelves. But, does the company have what it takes to make it as more than just the must-have item of the moment?

The ideas explored in the Wall Street Journal don’t just apply to children’s markets. Any business with a hit product or service needs to think beyond the here and now to ensure the sustainability of their success and the continued growth and profitability of their brand.

For children’s companies that have been able to survive past their product’s peak, one of three strategies was vital:

1. Licensing

If you have a hit product, try to stretch that brand as far as it will go. The Wall Street Journal points to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a prime example of this strategy. The brains behind the Turtles made a successful comic book into a franchise that included a television show, movie and ancillary products from stuffed animals to bed sheets.

2. Limited Editions

We all want what we can’t have and some companies find success in promoting their product’s lack of availability – hence how Beanie Babies have hung around long past their initial success.

3. Follow-Up Products

Putting all of your eggs in one basket can be a dangerous decision. When Giga Pets began to wane in popularity, Tiger Electronics created the Furby, and thereby kept the company going. The lesson for business owners here is to constantly research and develop rather than resting on one’s laurels.

At present, Silly Bandz is pursuing both follow-up products, in the form of Silly Necklaces and Silly Buttons, as well as limited editions, a recent Spring pack of Silly Bandz has been retired, to keep the now $100 million dollar business afloat. However, it remains to be seen if Silly Bandz has the staying power to remain popular on the playground, or if, like so many toys before them, they’ll end up gathering dust beneath children’s bed across the country.

Mike Goodrich
Goodrich Law Firm, LLC

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