I grew up with Hot Wheels and I'm sure many of you did as well.
In a day when big box toy stores like Toys' R Us are closing, Hot Wheels grew 21% last year.
This is twice the gain of the companies' Barbie dolls.
Hot Wheels first appeared on the scene over 50 years ago. They were originally launched to stabilize the company's boy's line of toys. Its roots are in Southern California car culture.
The name derived from co-founder Elliot Handler. He first saw one of the cars roll across the floor and said "Those are some Hot Wheels." It was the launch of a favorite toy in many kids' lives. Check out these stats...
Hot Wheels sold over 16 million cars in 1968.
In the last 50 years, 6 billion Hot Wheels have been made. There are 7.6 billion people on the planet.
There are currently over 20,000 different Hot Wheels models.
30,000 people attended the Hot Wheels convention in Mexico City.
A 2018 Hot Wheels-edition Camaro sold for $38,790.
A 1969 Pink Rear-Loading Volkswagen sold for $72,000.
Hot Wheels' success in engaging kids is worth taking note of. There are some valuable lessons we can gain from them. Let's look at a few of them.
FIND YOUR NICHE
When Mattel first started designing their cars, Matchbox was a leader in making toy cars as well. Matchbox's cars tended to be replica's of ordinary cars that were on the road.
Hot Wheel's decided they would do something different. Something that would distinguish them from the other companies who made toy cars. They needed to find their niche. They decided they would go with a California custom look. The cars would have bright colors, red-line wheels, big spokes and engines.
As a children's ministry leader, you can do a lot of programs, events, strategies, camps, etc. You can fill your calendar up. And you'll end up doing all of these things with mediocrity. Finding your niche means you focus on a few things you can do with excellence. We must remember that being busy is not the goal, rather being fruitful is the goal.
FOCUS ON WHAT KIDS LIKE
The company leaders realized that kids love to "go fast." So they began creating drag-style cars. They also started offering the orange plastic track, which allowed kids to drag race again other.
When you stay closely connected to kid culture, it empowers you with the knowledge of what kids like. But you have to intentionally enter their world. Remember this - yes, you were once a kid, but you've never been a kid right now. It's a lot different growing up now, than it was when you and I were children. Kids today face challenges, temptations and pressures that we never faced. They live in a digital world. They've always had high speed internet, small, powerful computers called cell phones and on demand media.
A great way to find out what kids like or think about the ministry is to simply ask them. You can do this by having a kids' focus group. Bring in 6-8 kids and ask them to tell you what they like and don't like about the ministry.
When you find out what kids like, you can use that to effectively capture their attention and keep them engaged.
A big area this is glaringly apparent is when you sing worship songs with the kids. Watch how they react. Do they sing? Do they engage in worship? Do they get excited about praising Jesus?
You can find out a lot by simply watching how kids respond.
Some older kids who love Hot Wheels have started putting GoPros on their Hot Wheels. They use it to record stunts and cool maneuvers.
Kids can also use a remote control to race their cars against other cars that have artificial intelligence.
Gen Z kids live in a digital world. They are always immersed in technology.
Look for ways you can integrate technology into your lessons, programs and events. Be okay with kids bringing the Bible to church on their tablet or cell phone. Have kids look up key Bible services on their phone or tablet.
Technology is your friend. It offers you opportunities to connect with families that previous generations never had.
So there you have it. 3 big ideas from Hot Wheels that you can use for your ministry. Here are some discussions you can have with your team on about this. Put the ideas out there and you'll be amazed at the even better ideas that come from collaborating with your volunteers, kids and parents.
Do you still have a Hot Wheels collection from your childhood? What are some other tips we can get from Hot Wheels' success? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.
Have we found our niche? If not, how can we find it?
What should we focus on?
What do we need to stop doing so we can do less things with more excellence.
How familiar are we with kid culture? How can we improve in this area?
How can we integrate technology into our lessons?
What opportunities can we give kids to use technology when they come?