Non-linear Innovation at Hasbro
In the mid-1990s, toy giant saw itself as a product company, with offerings consisting mainly of toys (G.I. Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony) and board games (Life, Monopoly, Candy Land). Hasbro competed in an industry broadly referred to as ‘family entertainment’—toys and games described by marketers as appealing to ‘kids from two to 92’. Until the 1990s, people typically purchased its products in a retail store.
Today, Hasbro is a self-styled ‘branded-play company’. Its relationships with customers may or may not begin with a physical product on a shelf. Customers get to know and use its core brands across multiple platforms: online games, fan sites, movies and TV shows, digital gaming systems, and comic books and magazines produced through partnerships with and others.
The goal is to create many opportunities for ongoing exposure to and experience of the various Hasbro brands. For example, the company has parlayed its popular Transformers line into a wide array of media, products and experiences.
Having studied this company for years, I have been struck by the fact that these changes were not sudden, but were the result of continuing attention, experimentation and learning—some of it ambiguous or inconclusive— that spanned most of two decades. For Hasbro, ‘inventing the future’ has been more of a steady process than a cataclysmic event.