Product design | Strategy Consulting

How do we redefine the way India buys a children's toy?

What was the task?

We were tasked with helping Disney penetrate the distribution system in mass India. So, we set about creating a toy for 5-8 year olds that would disrupt the unorganised distribution system and be sold in a neighbourhood stores as well as a large toy store like Hamleys. Our goal was to change the perception of Disney from being a niche brand to one that was more accessible to the masses.


The Sideways Approach


Revisit our childhood with the children of today

We realised that to truly understand kids, we had to become kids again. This meant getting out of our office chairs and getting onto the playgrounds.

We conducted play workshops to get insights into various aspects of play. We also did ethnography sessions with close to 50 kids, where we spent an entire day with them, understanding their activities, playing with them and getting a sense of their idea of play/fun.

We visited over 7 parks, 32 toy stores and 28 homes across 17 suburbs in Mumbai. At the stores, we even observed which toys kids would buy if they were given a few hundred rupees to spend. During this process, we got to study over 150 toys and games and interacted with 228 children.

Quite frankly, we put a lot of time and effort into play and it was totally worth it.


Get to know the moms, because they always know best

Of course, we could never truly get an accurate insight into a child’s life without having a chat with their mother. So, we spent time at home with several mothers and spoke to them at length about their children’s play habits.
We learnt about their schedule and how much time the child plays outdoors vs indoors.
During our many months of research, our goal was to find the answer to a few very key questions:
What do kids do when they are made to play with household objects? 
What do kids think of educational toys and games today, how are these designed for learning and fun?
How do kids respond when they are given free hand in making and building objects?
What do kids do when they are put together in groups and given a game to play?
Basically, by examining a day in the life of a mother and child, we got the kind of insights that no number of hours in the field could yield.


Draw on our insights - quite literally

Sometimes, heading back to the drawing board can be a good thing.
We analysed our findings and asked ourselves some key questions about the design direction for the toy – should we build a toy that encourages social interaction, or should we aim to build a toy that encourages learning in a fun manner? Should we focus on developing the intellectual curiosity of the child, or should we develop a toy that encourages physical activity?
After many post-it notes and intense discussions, we finalized two design directions for the toy – Fostering Togetherness, and Driving Intellectual Curiosity.


Bring a toy to life

Finally, it was time to turn all those months of research into something real. As a team, we conceptualized 30 toy ideas, and then detailed this further to arrive at 5 winning ideas. We finally agreed upon developing two toy concepts for Disney, one for Fun Learning, and another for Free Play. These two ideas have progressed to the final phase, where we are evaluating business viability and manufacturing feasibility. Soon, you’ll see them in a store near you.

What did we learn from this?

For us, this was an amazing opportunity to study the science of fun. We couldn’t have asked for a better chance to take an in-depth look into the reasons why we like to play, and why we have fun doing the things we love. As a team, we had a blast and learned a lot in the process. It’s very hard to top that.