Toys R Us, a Victim of Memory Management



“Painting your vision of the future requires the ability to paint over your memories with the paint of your imagination.”

I am sure many have decided, Toys R Us is just another example of outdated marketing strategies. Most have read much about how they refused to innovate. Well, Here’s my thinking. Toys R Us thought they were innovating. They based their marketing and their customer’s experiences on what they believed to be true instead of what the customer knew was true.

The number of organizations or industries who attempt to innovate from their memories instead of their imagination continues rising. Toys R Us is just one example of the refusal to comprehend how their once valuable value proposition has diminished in value. Just because yesterday’s parents used to fill up the minivan and travel to the toy store where their children had a ball running around in the madness of toy shopping. Doesn’t mean their kids when parents or their grand-kids will value the same experience.

“Innovation is not a practice of memory management it’s a practice of Imagination management.”

Things change, and companies don’t. Customer Experience has become a slogan for marketing departments not a reality for customers. When the means to any deliverable changes or is modified by an innovator. Listen to the noise from the legacy way hear their reasoning why the innovator will fail, or more importantly listen to the explanations why they believe the innovator won. You will soon discover those disrupted will describe their memories of why their customer experience is better, and the winning innovator only won because they were the cheapest. Reality check! I think there is a delusional leadership problem when organizations believe being less expensive is a fault or somehow doesn’t qualify as a customer experience. Especially for commodity products or commodity services.

Toys R Us honestly believed that the experience their customer had in their stores was more valuable they the new experience of saving time and money buying toys some other way. Toys R Us tried innovating from the directions of their memories. Trying to fit what they wanted into what they insisted their customer wanted. The problem they didn’t listen to the customer, and more importantly, they didn’t take their lost customer’s advice. The toy buyer today decided that buying from home at lower prices is the better experience.

So, now the Ex- Toys R Us leaders and the Ex-RadioShack leaders drink coffee at Starbucks and brag how their customer experiences were so, much better than well, let’s just say it “ better than Amazons.” The problem is their ex-customers didn’t think so causing the ex-customers to outnumber their once temporary current customers. During market disruptions and shifts, companies need to lead from their boardrooms not delegate to their marketing departments in an attempt to temporarily sell outdated value propositions. The one thing every leader knows although not every leader prepares for is this.

“Customers buy outcomes; the means to their achievement always changes.” 

Many industries are or will become victims of disruptive innovations if they continue attempting their responses based on memories. Don’t fall victim to the belief that your outdated value proposition still has the same value. Don’t fall victim to the thinking you are the better Customer Experience because you say so. Listen to your lost customer more than your current customer and imagine what your deliverable looks like without you delivering it.

Once the mind is open to different possibilities, your imagination and creativity will vision new possibilities which were unimaginable to your memories.”

R.J. Stasieczko


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