Consumer Insights Summit at PlayCon to Deliver Experts’ Research on the Value of Toys and Play

April 19, 2011 | The Consumer Insights Summit at PlayCon, the Toy Industry Association’s International Conference of Play Professionals, will explore the myriad ways that 21st century children, adults and families view and value toys, play, brands and trends. In-depth, research-focused discussions – presented by key players in the industry – will enrich the informative and creative conference, taking place May 4-6, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Our Consumer Insights Summit speakers are highly respected leaders and innovators in the fields of kid entertainment, youth marketing and child psychology,” said Marian Bossard, VP of Meetings and Events at TIA. “Throughout each of the discussions, the presenters will impart invaluable information and tools tailored specifically to PlayCon’s audience of youth- and play-focused professionals.”

Scheduled immediately following the Retail Landscapes panel discussion on May 6, the well-rounded Consumers Insights Summit will cover three separate areas of interest:

  • Ron 

Geraci“How Kids, Parents and Families View the Play Landscape,” led by Ron Geraci, Senior Vice President of Research and Planning at Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids a nd Family Group, will present excerpts from a Nickelodeon study on play that surveyed more than 1,000 children nationwide and explore the following questions: How do kids and parents think about play differently and where do they agree?  How does family play represent a growth opportunity?  Is outdoor play the next big opportunity?  How does technology fit into play — from the perspectives of both kids and parents? 

    In his professional role, Mr. Geraci oversees all research related to analyzing viewer trends and handles primary research on behalf of Nickelodeon’s advertising sales department.  He has spearheaded groundbreaking research projects that helped the network break into non-traditional kid categories such as automotive, travel and new media. 

  • Renee WeberHow to Maximize Play Value” presented by Renee Weber, Vice President of Consumer Insights at The Marketing Store will reveal insights derived from hundreds of focus groups of kids and their parents from the past several years. Attendees will glean information on how to maximize a toy’s play value; how to evaluate licenses from a play value perspective; when you should – and shouldn’t – utilize trends to add value to a brand; and how brands must evolve as they grow stronger.

    Ms. Weber brings strategic thinking, science and an in-depth understanding of kids, moms and families to promotional and product development. For the past seven years, she has dedicated her work to tracking changing play patterns; insights from these efforts have been instrumental in guiding successful toy development for The Marketing Store’s promotional premium and retail product clients, such as McDonald’s, General Mills, Nestle, Met Life and Wild Planet.

  • Dr. 


CohenIn “What Happens After the Toy Gets Home?” Dr. Michael Cohen, a developmental psychologist and the President of the Michael Cohen Group LLC (MCG) will dissect current research on what kids do with their toys once they are purchased. Questions posed will include: What toys deliver on play value the best?  How often do kids play with toys before they tire of them?  How does a toy’s play value help to encourage deeper purchases into the brand? 

    Dr. Cohen is internationally known as a provider of superior qualitative and quantitative studies in the fields of children and families, media, education, mental health and public policy. Under Dr. Cohen’s guidance, MCG has aided corporations, government and institutions – informing decision-making and providing solutions to a variety of business and policy challenges, including the development of educational media products and services and educational marketing, branding and strategic communications. He has conducted research on behalf of the US Department of Education and the NYC Department of Education, and his clients include companies such as Nickelodeon, PBS, Sesame Workshop and Noggin.


ZwiersNancy Zwiers, CEO and Chief Funosopher of Funosophy, Inc. will moderate the Consumer Insights Summit discussions and share her expert knowledge in marketing, design and licensing activities. Ms. Zwiers has worked as a consultant with top toy companies – including Hasbro, Leapfrog, Spin Master and Disney – and has created a number of cost-effective research and decision-making tools specially designed for the toy and licensing industries. For the past 18 years, Ms. Zwiers has been a leader in the toy industry; she worked at Mattel for nine years, where she was promoted to Senior VP and division General Manager, and as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Barbie she pioneered a host of innovative initiatives, growing the Barbie brand by $700 million in just five years, to its peak sales level of nearly $2 billion.  She also re-launched the almost-dead Polly Pocket brand in 1999, positioning it to grow into one of the biggest girls’ brands of the past decade.

Full biographies of the esteemed faculty speakers presenting throughout the conference program, as well as registration and event information, can be found on the PlayCon website.