Savvy licensors and manufacturers know there’s money to be made from tapping into the regular routines that govern kids’ lives. But whereas most players tend to focus their efforts on one component of this universal daily schedule, West coast entrepreneur Hillary Hayden Burri is looking to put her stamp on the whole thing.
Her crusade began in 2005 when a line of light-up safari car slippers created were picked up by Nordstrom. They came with a companion book outlining the story of two safari cars that come to life and take two children on an adventure with animal friends to show them that getting ready for bed is fun. In year one, the book was a freebie that came with the battery-operated slippers for US$29.95. But the products sold through so well that Nordstrom renewed its deal for the slippers the next year, and ordered the book to sell separately.
Sensing she’d clued into a major opportunity, Hayden Burri decided to expand the scope of the business and create a whole line of routine-based products. She brought in Jeanne Smith as VP of creative, and let her loose on a product and packaging design overhaul along 3-D lines, contracting Spain’s Animagic to do the work under the guiding hand of a former lead animator from Disney. Hayden Burri also worked with child development professionals on informal focus group research that yielded a key insight: Kids are immediately engaged when signature songs are applied to daily routines.
So when the Rascals & Routines line launches at Nordstrom this fall, it will feature six plush characters (US$7.99), companion books (US$9.99) and music downloads (US$0.99), each centering on a different routine. Toothtime with Chomper features a crocodile who shows kids how to brush and floss properly, for example, while Sleepytime with Rory’s star tiger takes them through the motions of preparing for bedtime. The products will be housed in a freestanding display that Hayden Burri describes as Webkinz-esque.
The plan is to create characters around other routines such as wake-up and meal time in 2009, as well as aggressively broaden the range’s retail distribution footprint, targeting club channels such as Sam’s Club and Costco to start. Oakland, California-based Haydenburri Lane, Hayden Burri’s company, is also working on a carry-all suitcase containing a satin and fleece blanket, a storybook and finger puppet ambassadors; this higher-end SKU will sell through QVC in ’09 for between US$30 and US$32. The light-up slippers that started it all will also be making a comeback for Christmas 2009, and Hayden Burri plans to develop routine-specific products to accompany each book in future lines.