Kidrobot, A Strategic Brand Analysis


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  • Kidrobot is a designer and retailer of art toys. Art toys refer to a set of toys, characters, figurines and other collectibles that are produced in limited quantities (as few as 10 or as many as 2000 pieces) and created by artists and designers. They can be made from a variety of materials. Kidrobot specializes in products made from vinyl.
  • Kidrobot is a designer and retailer of art toys. Art toys refer to a set of toys, characters, figurines and other collectibles that are produced in limited quantities (as few as 10 or as many as 2000 pieces) and created by artists and designers. They can be made from a variety of materials. Kidrobot specializes in products made from vinyl. They often feature limited product collaborations with well-known brands and popular artists from across genres (street art to music). Recently the company has expanded its product offerings to include apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, hats, shoes etc.).I chose this brand as one of my favorites because I think that it is one of those brands that is at the forefront of modern youth fashion/culture. A number of the ideas behind the company are very modern and reticent of the times that we live in. The brand is young, fresh and has a very global/cosmopolitan spin. I am also impressed by its ability to maintain a strong appeal to two (or perhaps more) very different audiences. On one hand, there is the group of people who are collectors of vinyl, toys or limited quantity merchandise. This is the company/brands original base audience, but it has also expanded to capture a more mainstream, cool, hip and trendy audience. With its clothes and apparel, it clearly imports a certain fashion aesthetic and ideal from the eastern (Japanese) market, but at the same time it’s almost one of those brand that gives the idea of designed for the people by the people. I think that this appeal to such disparate audiences and continued success as a brand is very interesting. I also personally enjoy the fashion aspect. When you’re wearing a piece of kidrobot apparel, first off you feel like you are young and cool and wearing the most popular style. You feel like you’re hip and part of an exclusive (yet cool and conscious) group of people who are privy to the social ideas behind the brand, fashion & idea forward, as well as privileged enough to be able to physically wear it. If you’re a collector, this feeling of belonging to somewhat of a member’s only club is even more so.*********************** More background info. On company***************************************************************Wildbrainis an award-winning entertainment company that develops and produces television programming, motion pictures, commercial content and licensed merchandise. They have several properties in their portfolio, but are perhaps best known for their animated work on the Nick jr. and the Disney Channel. In 2006, the company acquired majority ownership in Kidrobot. Kidrobot figures have been featured in a number of artistic & museum collections, but the New York Museum of Modern Art(MOMA) is the only museum to have Kidrobot toys (or similar items) as part of their permanent collection.MOMAjustified the acquisition of these 13 figures, because they felt that the ‘art toys’ were part of the legacy of toys that were already a part of the MOMA’s collection, as well as representative of recent phenomenon within design. In the exhibition, the production of the figurines is tied into the history of mass production as well as serialized production, in the form of the applied decoration. The 13 pieces are as follows: Chairman Mao Dunny, 2005, Frank Kozik designer; Tilt Dunny, 2005, Tilt designer; DomaDunny, 2005, DOMA designer;Cycle Dunny, 2005, Cycle designer; Bad Dunny, 2006, David Flores designer; Big Mouth Dunny, 2006, Deph designer; and a Kenzo Minami Dunny, 2006, Kenzo Minami designer.
  • Kidrobot not only sales these art toys and inspired accessories, but here they place themselves at the center of a growing artistic movement! In essence they strongly place their value as being at the forefront of something that is yet to come. They are the innovative brand among their peers.
  • Very in your face message and a very Generation X/Y way of looking at the world. Not everyone would agree with this message. Overall gives the feeling of being bold, vibrant and cutting edge.
  • This image featuring popular hip-hop artist and producer, Swizz Beats is featured and taken directly from the a KR advertisement found on the website.Kidrobot positions itself at the center of an artistic and cultural movement. It’s about being young, edgy, artistic and against the mainstream. It aligns itself with hip-hop, as well as other youth/ subculture style. All of this is represented in the unique, often one of a kind goods that they produce; whether this be vinyl figures, clothing or other goods. It also positions itself as being popular amongst the popular; again its popular.The mission, vision, visual vocabulary and experience in the store all lend themselves to creating a cohesive personality for the brand.The brand’s personality is young, energetic, trendy, edgy and artistic. If it were personified, it would definitely be a young male, between the ages of late teens to early thirties who is a product of globalization and hip-hop generation. Bright colors, baggy hoodies and a swagger when he walks, he always knows what’s up. He is an individual (at least he thinks so) and though not classically trained, he’s a street artist. He’s unconventional in nearly every since. He might not have gone to college, but he’s a graduate from the school of life and is intent on being a revolutionary and having his voice heard loud and in living color. Fulfilling all of these sort of cliché’s about coolness, art and counter-culture, he’s also a bit of a hipster.Audience Identification: Kidrobot, like its personality is geared toward a younger audience with non-traditional values who wants to step a bit out of convention and tradition. Kidrobot is not for the sensible, buttoned up and preppy, but for the youthful, cool and in-the-know. It’s geared toward again a younger middle to upper class individual with some affinity for art and exclusivity. The clothes are street-inspired, but at the same time very fashionable by way of the brands that are collaborated with. The audience is reflected in the styling, retail locations, price and collaborations. There are four permanent stores in the U.S. and each is located in a prominent upscale and young shopping area. Items in the store range from $5- $5000 and sales are rarely featured. Collaborations are not with everyday, accessible brands, but top designers and brands.
  • This is a snapshot of the Kidrobot homepage. As consistent with the experience in the store (as I will talk about in the next slide), the website is very sleek and modern. In general, the brand uses the Helvetica type font in variations of black, white and gray, which gives a very clean, minimalist and modern feel. The color white is also used very heavily. It creates the feeling of cleanliness, space, and of being like a blank canvas. The white doesn’t draw attention to anything and obscures detail, making for also somewhat of a futuristic look. On top of the white (mostly added by the figures and other items themselves, we have splashes of bright color. These splashes of color draw the attention of the eye to the products and at the same time, being so bold and bright give the feeling of being almost otherworldy/futuristic. The bright colors also are symbolic of energy and moving life. Overall this color palette and visual vocabulary work to support the cool, artistic, next generation feel and promise that the brand offers. It’s all very modern and hip.
  • Direct competitors can be considered to be considered to be other companies who are in the business of producing and/or retailing (art) toys and accessories. I have listed Hasbro and Mattel as being direct competitors, because they are the two largest manufacturers of toys in the world, and although they may not specialize in vinyl art toys, they do offer, amongst the plentitude, figures that could compete for this demographic. They also license a number of iconic characters and offer certain collectible lines that might appeal to the same people who collect or buy from Kidrobot. The other three direct competitors listed, Strangeco, Toki Doki and Paul Frank only offer products that are very similar to Kidrobot– vinyl toys, bright clothing, etc. They are perhaps the biggest competition and this will be elaborated upon in the following slides. The indirect competitors of Kidrobot would be all other Luxury goods. When I say luxury, I do not mean ‘luxury,’ as in of the finer class, but luxury, in the sense of non-essential items; items to be purchased by individuals with a certain amount of disposable income.Kidrobot is targeted toward a younger, hip demographic with disposable capital. These same people, in order to fulfill their desires might purchase certain brands of fashion, hybrid cars, other one of a kind collector’s items from an auction house, etc. Because Kidrobot is selling not only, art toys, but clothing and certain promise of the cool aesthetic, it has a lot of competition. There is no service that Kidrobot offers that people ‘need’ in day-to-day life. It’s a purely luxury good, geared toward those who can afford it or want to appear to be of a certain group of individuals.
  • This is just a competitive analysis between Kidrobot and thee top three real world competitors as I have gauged through research. There are several additional companies/brands that have popped up over the past few years that may also act as direct competitors to Kidrobot, should be watched, but at this time are no direct threat because of size and lack of originality. These other competitors include:-Deadzebra, Founded in 2000 distributes artwork and goods produced by Andrew Bell. Has very small collection of plastic toys, most notably a series of Android vinyl figures. Also features prints, books, apparel etc. Overall aesthetic is very similar to kidrobot. Few collaborations. Available for purchase online and in retail stores.-Strangekiss, online art / toy gallery for collectors and enthusiasts. The main mission of Strangekiss is to bring "Art back into Art". Features some original toys/designs, but mostly designs by other well known artists. Similar aesthetic and idea.MuttPop, founded 2005 produces high quality art toys and intellectual properties. Designers/owners have history in animation etc. Toys feature familiar and new characters. Available for purchase online and in select retailers.What Kidrobot has in common with its three major competitors*(self-assesed) is the age of the company and the offerings. What stands out about Kidrobot, that a number of its competitors cannot offer is that Kidrobot is a popular brand, but also a popular retailer of art toys, apparel and accessories. What this means is that they are a popular brand in themselves, but besides that they also retail a number of their competitors’ products, making them essentially a bit of a one stop shop for art toys, clothing and accessories. Toki Doki and Paul Frank are specific artists that have a line of products, while Kidrobot is an entire brand that features all original characters and collaborations with artists. Conversly, Strangeco is just a manufacturer of the plastic and vinyl toys; few of the designs are original or branded.Because of the interesting space that Kidrobot occupies as Toy brand and toy retailer, it is also in direct competition with other retailers of art toys and accessories. There are no large chain stories in this category, but a number of local staples. These large purveyors of art toys in the US include: Munkey king, My Plastic Heart, Rotofugi, Lulubell, Neon Monster, Toy Qube and even stores like Urban Outfitters.
  • Simone Legno is an Italian designer based in LA, but his art is Japanese inspired. Tokidoki is positioned aesthetically very similarly to Kidrobot– vinyl figurines, bright colors, street fashion. Popular collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, LeSportsac, Onitsuka Tiger, Marvel, New Era, Hello Kitty, Fujitsu, Levi's, Smashbox cosmetics, Xbox, T-mobile, Fornarina, Skullcandy and Medicom Toy.Some products can be found in the Kidrobot store.
  • Paul Frank is perhaps the most widely known and established of Kidrobot’s competitors. The have designed guitar straps for The White Stripes, Foo Fighters and Weezer(to mention a few) and special edition t-shirts for Coachella. They have collaborated with a number of other organizations & brands, suchas The Elvis Presley Foundation, LEGO, John Deere, Mattel, Dr. Scholl's and Oscar Mayer to create one-time run collectible items. Paul Frank Industries clothing, t-shirts and other products achieved excellent visibility. The brand appeared in numerous blockbuster films like Superbad, Knocked Up, Austin Powers, American Pie and Charlie's Angels. Actors such as Jason Schwarzman, Elijah Wood, ZooeyDeschanel and Michael Rapaport, as well as Pop Stars (Hilary Duff, AvrilLavigne), punk bands (Bad Religion, The Donnas, Alkaline Trio), and indie rockers (The White Stripes, The Shins, Interpol, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hot Hot Heat) are all public fans of the Paul Frank brand. **This information comes directly from their website and can be supported by the author’s own knowledge of the brand and popular culture.
  • Right here in LAKidrobot’s physical space is surrounded by its competitors. When I first went to visit the store, before I had any knowledge of the store and had only looked it up online, I accidentally went into the Tokidoki store thinking that it was Kidrobot. In fact the Kidrobot store in Los Angeles, on Melrose is directly across the street from Tokidoki. Directly next door to Kidrobot (on the same side) is a store called Loyal Army, that if you can gauge anything from the store front, offers a a very similar aesthetic to Kidrobot. Loyal Army clothing might be considered a direct competitor to Kidrobot because it is a designer and manufacturer of original clothing, inspired by art and Japanese Kawaii. They only sale clothing, so there is no competition for the toys, but I noticed many of the customers that visited Kidrobot also stopped next door at the Loyal Army store did. Two stores down from Loyal Army and three down from Kidrobot is the Paul Frank store and on the corner of the block is a store called Johnny Cupcakes. Johny Cupcakes can also be considered a direct competitor because it produces original t-shirts and accessories with artful screens and prints. It targets the same demographic of young people who who are into alternative clothing, art and exclusivity. So, in this one block of Melrose, there are four direct competitors positioned right near each other. From just a customer’s point of view, so many stores, offering such similar products makes it hard to differentiate or prefer one to the other unless one already had an outstanding reputation or larger collection than the other.
  • In a way, I believe that Kidrobot may be in the process of overextending its brand. Originally it was limited edition art toys, created through artist collaboration, now it has extended to fashion and Budnitz has already said that in the near future he plans to expand to animation, software & technology and other products. As mentioned in the lectures, no brand can be all things to all people and this seems to be the direction that Kidrobot is trying to go. They do art toys well, but as an 8 year old company, what reason do I have to believe that they should make games, clothing and films? I understand part of the extension, but at the same time, expanding so far, so fast may confuse customers wondering what Kidrobot actually makes well now.I did an informal survey of people’s knowledge and opinions of the Kidrobot brand by just calling up friends, asking around on facebook etc. According to Kirdrobot, it thinks that it is art toys and other art-inspired accessories. None of the people I asked described it in this manner. Someone described it as “Hello Kitty for guys.” Another person described it as hipster clothing. None of the people that I asked about it said anything about being inspired by art or that it was collectibles. More than just art, Kidrobot is trying to import a Japanese-inspired culture that centers around coolness and style, by virtue of cuteness (Kawaii) or caricature. In a way, it has taken hold and carved out a niche for itself in popular American style. Perhaps they need to embrace this aspect of their perception. Again, drawing off their self-positioning as as art related, It has been said that Art is the anti-thesis to capitalism. It is supposed to be by the people, for the people to enjoy. If this is so, then how can they put such a high price, such a high premium on the products that they produce?Looking across the board, at Kidrobot’s direct and indirect competitors, there is very little that Kidrobot offers in the way of products or services that one cannot get from one of its competitors. There are, however three things that seemed to be in Kidrobot’s favor. 1, Paul Budnitz wrote two books about the ‘art toy revolution,’ and these books, being an extension of Paul Budnitz and thus his brand Kidrobot, serve to add a certain amount of legitimacy and in a way establish him/the brand as the original and an expert on art toys. 2, Kidrobot is both an established/popular brand and a retailer of art toys, clothing and accessories. This means that they not only corner the market ontheir own sales, but also place themselves as a one-stop-shop, i.e. “you like art toys? Well, take a look at ours, we’re the best? Want something different? Well, we also offer these other options. It’s all about the art revolution, not buying our stuff per se,” meanwhile, they make money on both ends. 3, Paul Budnitz has, “Munny will rule the world.” The Munny figure is very unique, I feel to this market. It is a blank canvas and a way for anyone to express themselves and be an artist. None of Kidrobot’s competitors offer such a product. It really supports the idea of an art revolution and I think that this might be an area that Kidrobot has potential to grow and differentiate itself.
  • Researching the brand was a process by which I used a number of sources to gathering various information. I started with the company website and from there proceeded with a google search to just bring up as much as could on the brand and company. I went through each of the returned queries and read what seemed to be most relevant. I also talked to people who know about the brand. Here is a list and explanation of three of the other resources that I used.Highbeam business: This is a useful resource because it provides practical/concrete company info. Here I was able to find company statistics, such as who is in charge of the company, its financial holdings, how many employees work for the company and other pertinent information. In addition to this, highbeam also provides a database of recent articles and media artifacts.Yelp: I used Yelp, in addition with asking actual people, in order to get a feel of how real, everyday people felt about the brand. Here on yelp and other consumer driven blog/fan-type websites you get a point of view that you would not get directly from the company. Reading the posts, I got an insight of how actual customers view the brand, what they like and what the problems This website in itself is not perhaps the most important resource, but it is representative of a type of resource; the media article or interview. I found a very thorough article on the company and interview with the creator etc. In the article/interview format we get an idea again of the company and where it fits into the the larger scheme of things, as well as get the chance to look at the peronalities of the people behind the brand.Reviewing diverse sources in research is key to getting a well-rounded image of the brand as perceived by the company, as well as the general populace. The more, different sources and different types of sources one looks at the more depth and breadth that one can gain.
  • Kidrobot, A Strategic Brand Analysis

    1. 1. Kidrobot®, A Strategic Brand Analysis Presentation by Carl Dickerson
    2. 2. What is kidrobot?“Is it art?” “Is it toys?” Or It’s Both!
    3. 3. About the Brand• Founded in 2002 by Paul Budnitz• Sales art toys, clothing and accessories• Acquired by W!ldbrain in 2006• 13 Pieces featured in the New York Museum of Modern Art• A surprise in every box! “My goal is to make beautiful things, toys, art, whatever. Making limited editions means that we can take risks, because if I make just 250 pieces of something, then only 250 people have to like it, and everyone else can go to hell.”
    4. 4. About the Brand Mission“ Kidrobot is the world’s premier designer and retailer of limited edition art toys and apparel. Kidrobot merges urban street trends, fashion, and pop art to produce limited edition, collectible toys and apparel. Kidrobot products feature unique collaborations with top international artists with backgrounds as diverse as graffiti, fine art, fashion, industrial design, graphic design, illustration, and music.”
    5. 5. About the BrandMission Vision “ We make art possible, from limited edition toys to apparel, and much much more! The designer toys sold at Kidrobot are the centerpieces of a new and growing artistic movement.”
    6. 6. About the Brand Mission “Don’t look backwards. None of our work is nostalgicVision or sentimental. We’re always looking forward to see what’s next, what’s next, what’s next.” Tagline – Paul Budnitz, Creator and President Nostalgia = Death
    7. 7. Positioning• Young• Trendy• Edgy• Artistic
    8. 8. The Brand Experience: In-Store• Reflects positioning/personality with use of white and bright colors• Modern design• Glass cases• Is as much a museum as it is a store.
    9. 9. The Brand Experience: Online
    10. 10. The Competition Direct Indirect All Other Hasbro Luxury Goods Mattel StrangeCo Toki Doki Paul Frank
    11. 11. DistributionCompany Mission/Targe Product Lines Key Notes Competitors: Competitive Analysis t Markets competitive Products Kidrobot is the world’s Dunny, Munny, Vinyl art toys, special Kidrobot stores are Founded 2002Kidrobot premier designer and YummyKozik, Kidrobot edition collaborations, located in New York City, retailer of limited edition Apparel, Special edition apparel. San Francisco, Los *Paul Budnitz has also art toys and apparel. Angeles, Miami, and wrote two books on the Merges urban street *Do-it-yourself Munny London, with temporary topic of the art toy trends, fashion, and pop pop-up stores appearing revolution, positions art to produce limited from time to time in brand as the original and edition, collectible toys other cities worldwide. an expert. and apparel. Kidrobot Products can be found products feature unique online and in select collaborations with top retailers worldwide international artists Tokidoki produces Sunglasses, apparel, bags, Apparel& Accessories, Nordstrom, Macys, Fred Founded in 2003TokiDoki apparel, footwear, footwear, hats,jewelery, Vinyl toys: Moofia, Segal, Metropark, accessories and other toys, tech, watches, Wildboys, Trexi, Cactus Karmaloop and approx. * Toki doki is an artist and products using art, iconic skate, limited Pups, Adios &Cia Ciao, 1000 boutiques in more vinyls done in characters and the collaboration, cosmetics Captain Coco, etc. than 60 countries collaboration with other tokidoki logo designed by worldwide. 3 standalone companies, including Simone Legno. Features retail stores in Los kidrobot high-profile Angeles, New York and collaborations with Milan. popular brands. We are all about one Home & Clothes Clothes & accessories Accessories sold in retail Incorporated 1997Paul Frank thing – fun. We have accessories, Clothing: have similar asthetic & dept stores. been creating smiles all infants, children, adults, 20+ standalone stores Brandweek Magazine over the globe for ten Bedding, edibles, worldwide: Southern recognized the company years through our most helmets, baby California, Los Angeles, in 2001 as "Marketers of recognized character, accessories, stationary, San Francisco, Dallas, the Next Generation” Julius. Combine all that bikes, lip balm, Chicago and New York with our brightly colored, optometrics, Pet City, London, Amsterdam, *Some Paul frank mid-century inspired products, tech & audio, Berlin, Dubai, Qatar, products also featured at vision and youve got Paul zipper pulls Bangkok, Athens, Taipei, kidrobot Frank Industries. Japan and Malaysia. STRANGEco creates and Rare stuff, double super Vinyl collectibles retailers worldwide, Founded in 2002Strangeco distributes unique, high- products, mini figures, including art, design and quality design-oriented vinyl collectibles, special gift stores, boutique toy STRANGEco – Purveyors
    12. 12. Competitors: Toki Doki
    13. 13. Competitors:
    14. 14. Competitors: The Street View
    15. 15. Further thinking on the Brand and Positioning• Can KR sustain it’s current branding and its current positioning within the marketplace? and Is it just a trend?• Is it properly positioned or should it consider repositioning for the future?• What is unique about the brand feeling and does it offer something that its competitors don’t or can’t?
    16. 16. Additional Links & Resources•• bot/index.html• profiles/info/1297697/kidrobot-inc•