90 markets in one launch

Toca Tea Party
Björn Jeffery is Director of Digital Commerce at Brickmark, a part of Bonnier Digital. Björn is also a speaker at Media Evolution The Conference. This article is taken from our publication “App app app app app”.

When Bonnier was researching new business segments, Brickmark came about from one simple insight. It’s easier to invent a new product in a successful segment than to create a willingness to pay in a segment where there isn’t one.

But with new products come new rules and ecosystems. Media companies don’t necessarily have the same role as they once did. We have chosen to accept, appreciate and exploit this fact – instead of resisting it.

Countless articles have been written about media companies worldwide who feel unfairly treated and pushed aside by the new technology companies that are now setting the agenda. Apple, Google and Facebook, to name but a few. Brickmark takes them on from a different angle. We develop products and services that play with these ecosystems from the start. We accept the dependence this brings because the opportunities of creating something with them are so much greater than we have ever been able to achieve on our own. But it means fundamentally changing the product, which is precisely what we’ve done.

When we release a digital toy in the App Store, we are selling on over 90 markets at the same time in the space of a single second. It’s a fascinating fact, but it’s also central to our product development. What can we create that exploits that fact? What can we sell on 90 markets that still feels relevant and important? What Swedish media companies have traditionally created, articles in Swedish, don’t scale up very well, for obvious reasons.

So how do you find these products? We started with research. We looked at changes in consumer behaviour, software development, prices of hardware, ecosystem growth and much more besides. One central insight was the importance of the touchscreen in future media consumption. One of the many things it does is make it easier for small children to have their first digital media experience. The interfaces are easy to use and don’t need the same fine motor functions as a mouse or a touchpad. The iPad has also become a gadget shared by everyone in the family, making it ideal for products that parents and children use together. All this was a factor when we chose to develop our first game studio, Toca Boca.

Toca Boca solely makes products that work on a global scale. Our product and concept development process is designed to sift out the ideas that have the potential to do this. We use very little language and speech. It’s all about simple, child-friendly user interfaces built around symbols and themes that are recognised worldwide. And we can receive payment for them easily because Apple runs a smooth payment process that consumers feel comfortable with.

When others set the rules for how business operates, you have to be quick and adaptable in choosing your product. If you are, there is a global market just sitting out there waiting for the next big thing.

  • http://kalström.se/ kalstrom

    In some ways I think you already are in this product segment, with your line of books for children. Many of the Toca Boca games remind me of “point and click” books, ie picture books or pekböcker.

    It’s pekböcker evolved.

  • http://twitter.com/bjornjeffery Björn Jeffery

    The willingness to pay differs greatly depending on what category the product in perceived to be in. Even if a book and a toy can look similar, the willingness to pay can vary a lot.