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Toys "R" Bust?

By: Darrin Duber-Smith


Long-ago, Toys "R" Us joined the ever-growing list of retailers struggling against the forces of Wal-Mart and Amazon, unable to beat prices and losing relevance to an increasingly fickle culture. Once a mainstay of the national retail scene, the toy chain is now crippled by $5 billion in debt and has filed for bankruptcy protection just in time for the holiday season. That can't be good. Could this be the end for Geoffrey?


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All is not yet lost. Bankruptcy protection allows the company to re-organize and largely "stiff" their creditors in an effort to survive, and most importantly, change marketing strategies and tactics. Simply marketing lots of toys using a cute "spokescharacter" simply isn't enough in 2017.


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The company should probably take Best Buy's lead and overhaul its e-commerce platform so that products and prices are consistent, and the on-line experience is seamless and fun. Marketers might also want to make efforts to make the in-store experience more fun by offering special experiences like birthday parties and brand-sponsored game demonstrations if they wish to see the 1,600 Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores remain open. Perhaps there is a toy equivalent of a "Geek Squad", providing services for busy parents. The retailer admits that it cannot compete on price, so it will have to give customers some other reasons to shop there. How will marketers respond to these increasingly hostile market conditions? We shall soon see.