NEW BOOK: Pivotal: Creating Stability in an Uncertain World Coming June 18, 2024

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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

Radio Flyer wagon

Radio Flyer is PIVOTAL!

One week from today, PIVOTAL: Creating Stability in an Uncertain World will be in bookstores. Given that today is International Day of Play, sharing this excerpt seems quite appropriate. Enjoy!

When seeking stability, look no further than Radio Flyer. Established in 1917, the company is renowned for its iconic “The Original Little Red Wagon.” Over the years, Radio Flyer has diversified its product line to include tricycles and scooters. However, it’s not the products that make the company special, especially given the presence of many lower-cost competitors. Their differentiator lies in their focus on high-quality products that evoke a sense of American nostalgia. It’s a wholesome company with strong roots.

Robert Pasin, the current CEO and grandson of the company’s original founder, is so passionate about Radio Flyer that he’s affectionately known as the Chief Wagon Officer. In defining their differentiator, he emphasized emotion over products. He shared with me, “I ask our customers, and almost everyone I meet, questions that focus on the brand rather than the product. What does Radio Flyer mean to people? What emotions does it evoke? How do people describe their experiences with it?

“Some strong themes emerged. Usually, the first thing people do when they hear ‘Radio Flyer’ is smile. The next thing they do is share a story. Stories about their wagon being a race car, a rocket, a spaceship, a submarine, a motorboat, or a magic carpet. Listening to these stories, I encountered themes of outdoor play, sunshine, green grass, wind-blown hair, laughter, love, and cherished memories.

“Given this feedback, we articulated our purpose: Radio Flyer exists to ‘bring smiles and create warm memories that last a lifetime.’ That encapsulates what our brand means to people. We transitioned from making wagons to fostering smiles and cherished memories. This realization gave us a broader and more exhilarating purpose, marking a pivotal mindset shift that spurred our growth.”

They sell a feeling, not just a product. And that feeling is irreplaceable. No one else can replicate it. It is the ultimate differentiator.

Customers adore Radio Flyer, and the sentiment is shared by its employees. In 2015, Fortune ranked Radio Flyer as the top small business to work for. In a move that further underscores its commitment, it became a Certified B Corporation in September 2022, standing out as the first global toy manufacturer recognized for its dedication to positive environmental and social impact.

(the image is courtesy of the Radio Flyer website)