Redefining a retail model: Imaginarium

When we participated in the redefinition of the strategy of the well-known toy retailer Imaginarium, the first thing we did was define an opportunity ‘umbrella’ that would broaden the company’s field of action. With this purpose and after carrying out several processes of analysis of the existing knowledge of its structures (Knowledge Stock), contrasting them with their strategic plan and the vision of the value attached by its clients (semantic characterization), we could define the new opportunity umbrella using the following phrase: Imaginarium: common ground between parents and children.

This apparently naïve definition of its strategic position (not a marketing action) was based on Imaginarium’s performance with respect to helping parents to manage the time they spend with their children (increasingly more limited and involving a greater budget), thus facilitating it and maximizing the experience they had. With this purpose, we analyzed different moments and qualities of the shared time, their productization, temporalization, changes in family and relationship structures among members.

Rejecting the strategic position, the first thing we were to redefine was the target the company had: Families with at least one child within the age group of 0-8 years old. When it comes to taking advantage of spare time within a family unit, this is usually determined by the possibilities and the autonomy of the youngest member of the family. Differentiating among specifiers, purchasers and users.

The second aspect, which resulted directly from redefining the opportunity umbrella, involved redefining the field of action:

The time parents and children spend together does not only imply the interaction with toys but it also constitutes a time to live through some experiences, to learn, to grow, etc. and in this sense, leisure, spare time, trips, the tangible and the intangible, the physical and the virtual, among other aspects also gain importance.


Therefore, to the leadership action and position occupied by Imaginarium in the toy specification, design, development, distribution and sale, we have added the action on the definition of ‘experience’ between parents and children, which obviously affected the immediate concentric rings of the family unit: parents-children / brothers and sisters, grandparents-uncles and aunts-cousins, friends, etc. In this sense, the supply of products / services was extended to the whole family target.

Rejecting the umbrella concept of ‘common ground’ and having defined the two fields of action: toys / objects and experiences / services, we defined the opportunity territory by means of three action focuses: increasing the perceived value of toy lines, defining possible spin off actions and finally, defining actions to manage the company’s assets in the market (brand, distribution, etc.) generally by means of co branding actions.

Other aspects we activated to develope the opportunity territory involved maximizing the ‘moments’ of the experience to be shared: ‘Before’ (preparation, information, training); ‘Meanwhile’ (experiences of use, relationship and experiential) and finally ‘After’ (memories, graphic information shared with third parties).

The opportunities detected within the opportunity territory and framed within the umbrella were ordered by short, medium and long term, on the basis of the opportunity cost and the legitimacy of the Imaginarium’s moment in front of the consumer.

Short-term opportunities were specially focused on increasing the value attached to the toys specified and marketed by the company; therefore we reinterpreted classics like the tricycle, we searched for new opportunity territories on the basis of social movements, toys for ecological education, and we reached spaces that had been inaccessible before by means of co branding actions for the brand my First Escalextric by Imaginarium.

Medium-term opportunities were framed within more emotional aspects for the brand and in some cases the legitimacy that the brand had in the target was used; we gained access to the territory of communications and technology, children’s diet, personal care, interpretation of classical concepts of game, etc.

Finally, we developed the opportunities that were further away from the initial position of the brand’s credibility, by settling in the experiential service supply: Live the experience of Imaginarium with your family. We developed the successful travel agency Imaginarium, in a co branding action with Viajes Barceló; the first destinations were Lapland to meet Santa Claus and then some pirates, medieval castles and other attractions followed.

As the farthest territory from the initial position, in collaboration with Aramón (the agency managing Aragón mountain stations), the mountain station Imaginarium Panticosa was defined as a world of experiences with the family.




Mª Luisa Vives – Jaime Gross

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