Full Steam Ahead: BRIO supports toy retailers with socialPALS

Lara Rosenkranz is responsible for the local marketing of the BRIO brand at Ravensburger, amongst other things, and masters the challenges of retailer marketing with socialPALS!
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Intervies Ravensburger - BRIO
Intervies Ravensburger - BRIO

Full Steam Ahead: BRIO supports toy retailers with socialPALS

Lara Rosenkranz is responsible for the local marketing of the BRIO brand at Ravensburger, amongst other things, and masters the challenges of retailer marketing with socialPALS!
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In lockdown and home office times, the big issue for many parents is: How do I keep my children occupied? Innovative play systems such as BRIO’s battery-powered steam locomotive, which even generates natural steam, came at the right time!

Now that toy retailers are finally allowed to experience their products on-site again, the challenge for toy manufacturers is above all to provide the best possible sales support for their retailer network. After all, consumer buying behaviour has changed significantly due to the temporary closure of the stores. How Marketing Manager Lara Rosenkranz is mastering this, she reports in the following interview!

Lara Rosenkranz

Lara Rosenkranz
Local Marketing Manager | Ravensburger

Lara, tell us briefly about yourself and your role at Ravensburger!

Yes, with pleasure. I’ve been marketing manager at Ravensburger for just under two years, responsible for all planning, measures and campaigns – including those for the BRIO brand.

It's hard to imagine a child's playroom around the world without BRIO toys. Can you briefly tell our readers how the brand is connected to Ravensburger and what the concept behind it is?

Ravensburger is known in Germany as “the brand with the blue triangle” and, of course, primarily for its puzzles and extensive range of games. Especially in the pandemic year 2020, there was, of course, an enormous boom in this area, and the demand for puzzles was huge.

Ravensburger has been much more than just a brand for some years now, however. We have developed into a group of companies that have prioritised inspiring people and rediscover what is really important. BRIO complements the group’s product range with innovative toys and play systems.

The target group of the BRIO brand are parents who place high value on "craftsmanship" and "quality". What are the best touchpoints and arguments to appeal to them?

Of course, this is primarily where the products are best experienced, and that is and remains the store-based retailer – or rather, the authorized toy retailer. We have also been using play tables at retail shops for years now, a central component, especially at the PoS.

BRIO is a traditional brand that has presented itself in recent years primarily through innovative play systems and products that inspire parents’ confidence and provide a lot of fascination and happy kids.

In this way, retailers can reach their local target group online - simply and without any special marketing knowledge!

What was the goal of the " FULL STEAM AHEAD" campaign and how much internal effort did you put into marketing to get it off the ground?

The objective was obvious: set up the communication campaign for the new battery-powered steam locomotive (by the way, a very, very great product that actually generates natural steam on its journey – ingenious!) in such a way that over-the-counter retailers are also involved and can effectively promote the locomotive – especially at a time when the stores were unfortunately actually closed.

Since it was an extension of the media campaign, the effort was really manageable and even prepared and set up in a few weeks, thanks to the incredible support of the socialPALS team. Thanks again!

What challenges do you currently see in the toy industry - both for Ravensburger as a brand and for toy retailers? Were you able to solve them with the help of the socialPALS platform?

The biggest challenge is undoubtedly the increased digitalisation, which is also impacting retail stores more and more. Due to the shop closures caused by the pandemic, an essential component at the PoS was eliminated: the physical product experience.

The play value and the active product experience are necessary success factors for a brand like BRIO, so we had to find a way to compensate for the loss of the product experience at the PoS through our digital content.

socialPALS has been an excellent way to give toy retailers an invaluable and easy-to-use tool to use this content.

What was the goal of the "FULL STEAM AHEAD" campaign and how much internal effort did you put into marketing to get it off the ground?

The objective was obvious: set up the communication campaign for the new battery-powered steam locomotive (by the way, a very, very great product that actually generates natural steam on its journey – ingenious!) in such a way that over-the-counter retailers are also involved and can effectively promote the locomotive – especially at a time when the stores were unfortunately actually closed.

Since it was an extension of the media campaign, the effort was really manageable and even prepared and set up in a few weeks, thanks to the incredible support of the socialPALS team. Thanks again!

How difficult is it to motivate your retail partners to participate? Is the "online marketing" module accepted as an integration into the sales concept?

Of course, this varies from dealer to dealer. On the whole, however, the campaign has been very well received. We are even repeatedly approached by colleagues wanting to participate in the campaign because their customers have contacted them.

Many retailers have recognized the potential of connecting online and offline. Here, socialPALS really offers a great platform that is also very easy to use.

How did the "Corona crisis" affect your industry? Did sales boom because people spent more time at home and often had to "keep their kids busy"? Or were the numbers instead declining because retail shopping was limited at times due to lockdown & co.

To be honest, both. There has been an enormous boom in consumer demand for toys that keep kids busy and having fun during the crisis and bring an educational component. Playing and learning at the same time – a great combination.

At the same time, however, there was almost only the possibility of getting the appropriate products online. So it’s all the nicer now to observe the trend towards “buy local” and to see how customers have also recognized what they have in “their local retailer” that online retail can certainly never give them: the proximity, the exchange and the direct product experience.

Are you already planning more campaigns to support your retailers?

Definitely, we are confident in the socialPALS platform concept and would like to continue supporting in-store retail and our customers this way in the future!

We're pleased about that, and we're excited to see what's up next - thank you very much for the interview, Lara!

Here's what our retailers say:

Toy retailers enthusiastic about socialPALS

Interview with Hans Hitzler about the use of the socialPALS platform as part of the ”tiptoi® birthday campaign“ from Ravensburger

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