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Industry: Toys

14.Melissa & Doug

Index score: 15

In a highly competitive industry, Melissa & Doug, the 30-year old maker of classic wooden toys, has grown steadily despite a huge toy market crowded with the latest whizzy electronic gadgets.

Their Director of Digital Strategy, John Freyer, recently claimed, “We are brand first, commerce second.” They made the site and its social media less promotional and focused instead on the company’s mission to “Take Back Childhood.” This mission to #takebackchildhood is clearly resonating with its fans and customers on social media.

However, they score the lowest among new companies in the Conversation Index - here’s why:

The Strategy doesn’t fit reality

The company claims its channels are less promotional, instead they re-Tweet and share people – mostly mums – posting pictures of their kids playing with their toys.

They do little public relations and don’t advertise in magazines, or on radio or television. Breaking away from traditional methods is a good starting point for this disruptor that has a different approach. However the Conversation Index, which audits what is actually happening on the ground, finds us wanting Melissa & Doug to live up to its values of a company that wants people to be “brand loyalists, people who buy our products because they have a connection to what Melissa & Doug stands for.”

Retweets are not a conversation

Re-Tweeting consumer content does not provide meaningful conversations and can begin to feel too promotional. Its Twitter account is also filled with seasonal promotions as well as celebrating various national days, which may not always resonate with its audiences, even committing the cardinal error of tweets without an accompanying visual.

This toy manufacturer wants to be known for producing a stream of fresh and innovative ideas and new designs.

Could Melissa & Doug provide a space for children and parents to co-create its stories and products inspired by the brand’s ethos and values?