We at Brackitz are often asked how we came up with the idea for our revolutionary engineering sets, how we turned that idea into a tangible product, and what it takes to get a product to market in the notoriously tough toy industry. Well, it’s a long road with lots of surprising twists and turns, but we’ve learned a lot along the way and we’re happy to share it all with you!
New product ideas can come from almost anywhere. Like many of the most successful consumer products, our idea for a new type of construction toy was born out of necessity. Scientist, dad, and Brackitz inventor Chris Cochella wanted the building blocks his kids played with to do more so that his kids could build cooler things. So he brainstormed several possible solutions and the winning idea eventually became Brackitz.
The competitive review is a critical step that is often skipped, to the almost certain failure of the idea. Unfortunately, if you’ve got a great, must-have, can’t-believe-no-one-has-done-this-already idea, the odds are, someone has already done it. The worst thing an inventor can do is pour tons of time and money into bringing a product to market that’s already there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a version that’s bigger, better, or otherwise different. You’ve just got to be very clear on what’s already out there to begin with.
Once you know what you want to make and are sure no one else is already making it, you’ll need to prove that it can actually be made. This usually begins with an extremely rough, often homemade prototype. When you’re satisfied with the proportions and functionality of your prototype, it’s time to move to a 3-D rendering. This is just a fancy term for a digital version of your design that a manufacturer is able to read and produce exactly the way you want. This is also the stage where you’ll need to select and cost the materials you’ll be using on your product—get ready to make some compromises!
Manufacturing can be expensive, particularly for small “runs”, or amounts, of product. If you’re not prepared to place an order for several hundred thousand pieces of your great idea, you’re going to pay more per piece. Luckily, there are agents who can help you find a factory that specializes in your type of product and meets any other requirements you might have. Once you’ve partnered with a factory, you will receive a single version of your produced product to review and critique, and will go back and forth with the factory several (sometimes many, many) times until the product they are producing is exactly what you had envisioned. Once it is, you’ll sign off, and they’ll begin the production process.
Having a product in hand is one thing. Selling it is another thing entirely. Your sales process should begin in the prototype phase when you gauge interest from the retailers who will be purchasing and reselling it and get an understanding of the price they’d be willing to pay for your product. Assuming there was enough interest to move into manufacturing and that you were able to produce the product for a price that provides you and your resellers an adequate profit margin while maintaining a reasonable “suggested retail price” for the consumer, it’s time to go back to those retailers with your finished goods. There are a few ways to find them. First, every industry has annual tradeshows, where manufacturers gather to display their newest offerings and buyers come to place their orders for the year. Shows like the North American International Toy Fair bring thousands of retailers to you over the course of several days and are a great way to get your product in front of lots and lots of potential customers. Sales reps are another channel for shopping your product to your buyers. Regionally based, these professional salespeople know their accounts and are dedicated to matching your product with the stores in their areas where they will sell best.
What? You’ve done your research, manufactured your product, and sold it to lots of stores—and there’s still more work to be done? Yes. Just because your product sits on the shelf of a toy store doesn’t mean anyone is looking for it or has even ever heard of it. It’s your job to make sure consumers are aware of your product, know why it’s so cool, special, and different, and are actively seeking it out. Advertising on websites and publications moms and kids are browsing, posting product videos on YouTube, reaching potential customers through email and social marketing campaigns, winning and promoting product awards, working with the media to run reviews on TV, in print, and online, and hosting in-store play day events are just some of the ways you might reach your audience. You want to be anywhere and everywhere your consumers are. Get creative!
And there you have it! The process in a nutshell. We did it and so can you. If you’re lucky, it starts with a great idea and ends with a critical success, with lots and lots of hard work and perseverance in between. Good luck!
Brackitz engineering toys are the only construction toys that let kids design any structure they can imagine - anything. Our unique, connect-anywhere Brackitz enables kids to create large scale, portable, 3-D structures – with no instructions or limitations – all while learning real-life math, science, engineering, and architecture skills.
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