How One Kids’ Laptop Brand is Preparing For The Next Wave of Demand This Holiday Season

At its core, Tanoshi sells laptops for kids. But there’s so much more to it than that if you ask co-founder Lisa Love.

“Our goal is to provide an equitable digital education for all kids, no matter their socioeconomic background,” said Lisa.

“We believe that all kids should be given a chance to succeed and should have the basic tools in order to succeed, such as a computer. So, we launched our first product, our Tanoshi 2-in-1 Kids Computer, about two and a half years ago in 2018,” she said.

The laptop is targeted towards tweens (kids ranging from 6-12) and comes preloaded with educational apps as well as some traditional apps like Google Docs and Sheets. 

And perhaps the most attractive part of the Tanoshi laptop? It’s affordable. Comparing it to an HP Chromebook that starts at $599, the Tanoshi 2-in-1 Kids Computer is much more reasonable at $199—and it still provides all the functions and features kids need to complete school assignments. “We position it as a child’s first real computer,” said Lisa.

But what happens when you mix an affordable, up-and-coming kids’ laptop with a pandemic that forces children of all ages to educate at home?

“There was this big frenzy and everyone needed a computer for their child,” said Lisa. “By the end of March, we were out of stock.”

Find out how Tanoshi is keeping up with demand after seeing their revenue double and how they’re preparing for the holiday season.

Demand from every direction

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, parents were forced to work from home, while their kids also had to participate in virtual schooling This put immense pressure on brands like Tanoshi that sell goods in the electronics space and saw increased ecommerce sales trying to match the needs of their customers’ new situations.

If you look at the graph below, which displays global order values over time for electronics brands, the data accurately reflects Lisa’s observations of the industry. 
“We’ve been trying to meet the demand, but it’s not just us. It’s this whole consumer electronics, computers, and tablets space. Bottom line, there are not enough computers for the need,” said Lisa.

"We've been trying to meet the demand, but it's not just us. It's this whole consumer electronics, computers, and tablets space. Bottom line, there are not enough computers for the need."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

On top of that, shipping and production delays with their suppliers in China meant that it was harder than ever for Lisa and her team to meet the interest they were seeing in Tanoshi computers.

Not only did the pandemic increase demand, but the Tanoshi team had also just been featured on an episode of Shark Tank that aired in May, which was driving additional awareness for the product. 

And it doesn’t end there. As parents prepared for back-to-school and were often again forced to have their children participate in virtual learning, Tanoshi was hit with a wave of interest from consumers once again.

So in order to best accommodate their lack of inventory during the time, the Tanohsi team implemented pre-ordering to better communicate shipping delays and transactional updates with their customers.

“With pre-orders, that made a huge difference in how we could communicate with our customers because I could update them once every couple of weeks with what was happening with the production process and their order,” said Lisa.

And while keeping up with this demand has been a challenge, to say the very least, Lisa stressed the importance of keeping Tanoshi’s values, mission, and most importantly, prices, consistent with what they’ve always been in order to focus on building long-term relationships rather than short-term profits.

“A lot of companies took advantage of the whole situation and they price gouged. That was one thing that we didn’t do. We didn’t want to mark up our computers by 200 percent just because we knew that everyone needed a computer and it was in high demand. So, I think our customers appreciated that,” she said.

"A lot of companies took advantage of the whole situation and they price gouged. That was one thing that we didn’t do. We didn’t want to mark up our computers by 200 percent just because we knew that everyone needed a computer and it was in high demand. So, I think our customers appreciated that."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

“We were just trying to produce more and get it out there while making sure that not just affluent families, but all families and under-resourced communities, have access to a good computer,” said Lisa.

Moving on from Amazon

Tanoshi sells direct-to-consumer (DTC) on their website as well as through Amazon and Walmart. But, as the brand continues to grow, both organically and after the pandemic-induced demand, the Tanoshi team is increasingly moving away from Amazon to focus on their DTC relationships.

“Amazon is a great channel for those who are starting off. Build that momentum, build that brand awareness, get your product out there. However, they basically control your marketing,” said Lisa. 

"Amazon is a great channel for those who are starting off. Build that momentum, build that brand awareness, get your product out there. However, they basically control your marketing."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

“You have no visibility to who your customers are. You can’t communicate directly to your customers. It’s always going through their portal. Even the marketing promotions you’ve got to pay for. So, they have a lot of control over your business. We just didn’t want to have a third-party company having that much control over our sales,” she said.

Additionally, Lisa acknowledges that with third-party marketplaces like Amazon, you never truly know when they’re going to change their policies or business models—for better or for worse.

“Who knows what’s going to happen to Amazon? I doubt if they’ll ever go out of business, but you never know what they’re going to change,” she said.

Instead, communicating directly with customers has allowed Tanoshi to build deeper relationships that they weren’t able to fully understand through Amazon.

“You want to be able to communicate to customers directly. That’s really the advantage of an email service provider like Klaviyo. I can see who exactly my customers are, when they’re on my site, how much time they’re spending,” said LIsa. 

“That’s what I love—the fact that I can communicate to my customers. It’s like your own focus group. You can segment your data and you can really target your specific customers, depending on where they’re going on your site,” she said.

"That's what I love—the fact that I can communicate to my customers. It's like your own focus group. You can segment your data and you can really target your specific customers, depending on where they're going on your site."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

For example, when customers buy or sign up with Tanoshi via their website vs Amazon, the team then has the opportunity to send out a welcome series to them through email.
“Folks who don’t really know our brand and our mission and what we’re trying to do, that whole flow explains who we are. So, that’s a really effective one for us,” said Lisa.

 

Preparing for kids’ holiday wish lists

Even after everything 2020 has brought for the Tanoshi team between Shark Tank, the pandemic, and back-to-school, Lisa still says that the holiday season is still the most important time of year for them. And the team is preparing now to make sure they have inventory for one unlike we’ve ever seen before.

But where Tanoshi used to offer traditional, deep discounts on Black Friday Cyber Monday, this year things are looking a little different.

“In our industry, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be the heavily discounted prices that you typically see on Black Friday, Cyber Monday,” said Lisa.

"In our industry, it doesn't seem like there's going to be the heavily discounted prices that you typically see on Black Friday, Cyber Monday."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

“Last year, we deeply discounted. This year, businesses are having a hard time producing computers. It’s not just us, it’s industry-wide. They don’t have the computers that the customers need. So, you’re not going to see the deep discounts like you usually on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’re going to discount maybe a little bit, but it’s not going to be a deep discount,” she said.

Instead, the Tanoshi team is launching their next-generation product and focusing on generating awareness around the newest computer in their collection, the Tanoshi Scholar.

“Email marketing will be foundational to introducing what it is, the difference between the Scholar and our Tanoshi 2-in-1, and making sure customers are aware of just the various differences and the advantages of each,” said Lisa.

Fortunately, with an email list that’s grown exponentially throughout the year, Tanoshi will undoubtedly have a receptive audience for this new product launch.

Lisa also mentioned that she sees a lot of grandparents buying Tanoshi computers for their grandchildren, so she’ll be making sure she’s communicating to these customers through images and messaging, as well as segmentation, this year.

“The companies that are going to succeed and that are really going to excel are going to be those companies that really know their demographic. Not just age and household income and all that stuff, but also what they do, what they like to do? What irks them? What makes them excited about stuff? Where do they hang out?” said Lisa.

“Those companies that can really nail down their audience and really speak to them, listen to them, and then act accordingly, those are the companies that are going to do well,” she said.

"Those companies that can really nail down their audience and really speak to them, listen to them, and then act accordingly, those are the companies that are going to do well."

Lisa Love, co-founder, Tanoshi

Final thoughts

While 2020 has been a while ride for Tanoshi, it’s not over yet. But Lisa says that there’s still a lot brands can do to make the most of the year and the holiday season. 

“Start now, start planning, and be consistent. That’s key. We’re a startup. It’s just me doing the marketing, but I know that I need to get an email out Sunday morning at 7:45 AM every week. So just be consistent, plan it in your schedule, and track your analytics,” said Lisa.

For brands that haven’t yet begun planning for Cyber Weekend and the holiday season, these upcoming weeks can be a make-or-break when Cyber Weekend sales will likely come in at $51.1 billion—a sales number that’s likely to be larger than what we’ll see across the same weekend the following year (2021). 

Ideating and executing your content and communications strategy now will be critical for brands that wish to compete online.

Interested in finding out how other brands are preparing for the holiday season? Read about how Haus puts customer experience first.

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