(Pictured: Jim Engle, President of Little Kids Inc., thanks the Curry MBA cohort for delivering recommendations including a marketing game plan designed to provide the company with a 4:1 ROI.)
At well over $20 billion in annual sales, the U.S. toy industry is serious business. And with the help of Curry MBA students, Little Kids Inc. is sharply focused on gaining a greater share of the market.
Each year, Curry College MBA coursework culminates in a capstone project where an MBA cohort works as a team of consultants to an area organization on an applied research project. On Thursday, December 12, a cohort of 10 students presented recommendations to help boost success at Little Kids.
Founded in 1989, Little Kids is a private, family-owned and operated toy and game manufacturer with 40 employees located in Seekonk, Mass. The company has been a sales leader in the summer/seasonal toy category for over 30 years.
Bubble-making products have been the primary profit generator since the company’s inception. Recently, Little Kids has ventured into the lucrative outdoor activity and game industry with the introduction of their Wicked Big Sports (WBS) products. Combining traditional sports and games with oversized fun, WBS has proven to be a fast-growing, popular product line. Little Kids is now looking to leverage the popularity of the WBS brand to create opportunities within the outdoor game industry and fuel future growth.
The project charter for the Curry College cohort consulting engagement with Little Kids committed to two major deliverables: a plan for growing the Wicked Big Sports product line and an operational efficiency action plan.
Marketing recommendations were based on a consumer WBS brand perception survey conducted by the cohort, review of the company’s existing marketing approach, and industry best practices. The cohort then created strategies addressing the gaps. In addition, the team built a consolidated marketing plan for the WBS product line tying all its recommendations together.
On the operations side, the cohort created a plan informed by on-site, in-person observations of day-to-day activities at the Little Kids warehouse, combined with research and evaluation of hundreds of industry best practices. The plan resulted in a practical, scalable operations roadmap that addresses the company’s immediate warehousing concerns. It also contains strategies for handling sales Little Kids has projected and growth the cohort’s marketing plans will help generate.
“This consulting engagement was a great fit for our cohort,” notes Paul Berg, MBA class of 2019 and capstone project manager. “We have team members with strong marketing, operations, and project management backgrounds. The project deliverables allowed us to capitalize on those strengths.
“The capstone provided the cohort with a real-life consulting opportunity,” he adds. “It allowed us to apply what we’ve learned throughout the Curry MBA program to real-world business problems. That’s extremely valuable experience that not all MBA programs offer.”
Not surprisingly, Jim Engle is a “Wicked Big” fan of the cohort. As president of Little Kids Inc., he clearly appreciates the tremendous value his company has received as a result of the cohort’s efforts. “They asked great questions, challenged the way we think and provided fantastic feedback,” he explains. “Working with them was a great opportunity that opened us up to lots of new ideas and recommendations. They gave us a solid game plan we can execute to become a market leader.”
Fall 2019 Curry College MBA Cohort members:
Paul Berg (Capstone Project Manager)