February 26, 2019 | By: Michael Stone, Chairman & Co-founder, Beanstalk
It looks like Toys "R" Us is rising from the dead already, as many speculated would happen (including me!). Rebranding as Tru Kids Brands, the investors who currently own TRU are weighing the possibility of opening freestanding stores and smaller shops within larger stores, with the goal of relaunching the brand by the holiday season of 2019.
TRU certainly isn't the first dead brand to shoot for a comeback, but it's perhaps among the biggest and most beloved. And, it shares many critical elements in common with brand revivals that have seen the most success. To elaborate, all of the best brand revivals meet some or all of the following criteria and TRU meets many of these:
A significant awareness and emotional attachment in the minds of consumers. TRU is an iconic brand with a 70-year history.
“Power” or weight in the memories of consumers. TRU has established authenticity and trust with consumers.
A market gap to be filled. Holiday toy sales were down 2% in 2018, and while the likes of Amazon and Walmart took advantage of the gap TRU left in the market, there is still room for TRU (to fill the gap that it created with its demise!).
A good story to tell. A new brand has to invest in a new story, which takes time and money. TRU’s story is already built in.
An understanding and consideration of the competition. The new owners of TRU need to figure out how to compete with Walmart, Target and Amazon, as well as others such as FAO Schwarz, which also recently made a successful comeback. TRU will need to move fast, others are not sitting still.
Strong brand management and market support. We know what caused the demise of TRU, and the new owners need to be careful to not make the same mistakes that led to the brand’s demise the first time. And they will need to support any relaunch with marketing investments. Those fond memories of consumers will not carry the day by themselves.
I happen to think Toys R' Us hits most of the criteria for brand revival success, so I'm optimistic about their chances. In any case, this will certainly be an interesting revival to watch as more details unfold. Are you ready to be a Toys R Us kid again?
More insights on branding, brand extension licensing and the revival of dead brands can be found in my new book The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity.