The estimated £13billion European Toy Industry continues to see major brands grow, as the increasing importance of manufacturing safety, along with the growing awareness of play and toys in children’s development, hits the media.
Challenger Brands in the sector face particular difficulty in engaging shoppers, with many needing to stand out in environments which are often crammed full of exciting products that are themselves in bright, bold and colourful packaging.
Frontline visited Toy Fair 2015 in Olympia London to see how new entrants to the sector are meeting the challenges, and to
take a look at some of the latest trends.
On arrival at Olympia we were instantly wowed with K’Nex striking rocket on display outside, and we weren’t disappointed when we visited their stand, to discover that pieces which had originally been designed purely for exhibition purposes, were now being launched as wider displays for retail, due to high demand.
Immersive play and exploration of the toys is clearly the key factor for many brands at retail, especially challenger and emerging companies that don’t have the budgets for high level marketing.
Daniel Abdelmassih, Product Development Manager at Bladez Toyz finds the best way to engage with their products is to get them visibly seen, touched and used. “With some products it’s really hard to tell from the packaging, just how great the toy is. For example with the inflatable Minion and Dinosaur remote control units you don’t really get a sense of the product from looking at the box”.
They’re addressing this by adding in a test button to hear the sounds, but if you had someone in the store simply going around with live models it would be the perfect advertising for them. There’s agreement from many of the smaller companies that the Independent stores are best when it comes to helping drive sales through trial & sampling.
Marvins Magic definitely has a handle on this. They clearly know the benefits of experiential, employing some 70 magicians who go to stores all over the country performing magic tricks in shops.
Having participated in a demonstration we saw how amazing the tricks were and realised that these are the sort of things that our own kids would love! Marvin uses TV screens when he can get positions in store so that he has a permanent presence.
To help push sales the brands love to use experiential retail displays and communication POS materials, but find the large multiples especially difficult when it comes to getting placement of these in the UK, leaving many emerging and challenging brands left stacked on shelves amongst all the other products. Retailers in other European countries it seems are less restrictive.
Wicked’s Head of UK Sales, Mark Holland, says that they’ve addressed this issue with small floor standing displays that have built-in monitors to show off their boomerangs at play. This type of unit can be cost effective to produce and when used in conjunction with flair and creativity in design, can help to secure permanent merchandising placement.
Recently introduced into the craft industry as ways to demonstrate product use, small displays with screens could be an advantage in the growing children’s activity and craft sector, which is booming. Key trends for girls revolve around being creative with bling, from friendship bracelets to sequin pictures.
The Galt brand dazzled with Strictly Come Dancing’s Aliona Vilani and Kristina Rihanoff launching their Sensational Sequins Dazzling Dancers activity set. The mix of craft and fashion for young girls is dynamic, with even selfies and usies being incorporated into charms and bracelets.
Traditional toys haven’t been ousted by the new crazes, with wooden toys becoming more beautiful and exiting than ever. Orchard Toys showed off with a fabulous collection of toys that pack away into small carry boxes, which can be used on the go, as well as their more established ranges. Licensed products could also be seen everywhere, with the new Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron and James Bond
Spectre movies due out this year. It was reported in 2013 of sluggish industry growth, with the lack of new block buster movies and licenses being a contributory factor. This clearly won’t be the case for 2015/16. And with Despicable Me 3 also due out in 2015 the craze for Minions is due to continue. The show boasted them at every corner, from inflatable’s to plush and branded bags to space hoppers.
Boosted by the imminent Jurassic World Jurassic Park 4 Movie, dinosaurs are big business (excuse the pun) with literally huge inflatable units that are great for exhibitions and shows, as well as child play, which can be packed away afterwards into a tiny bag; to radio
controlled and robotic models and construction modelling.
The impact of films and TV was evident too in the resurgence of some of
the old 1970’s and 80’s favourites, with the Clangers, Wombles and Smurf’s busy posing for selfies around the halls.
The craze for gamers using Minecraft sees this becoming a toy industry trend, with the top brands like Lego, launching Minecraft products this year.
For many new industry entrants, and niche companies, the focus to engage with customers is mainly in online and social as platforms of communication. The use of
Facebook, Tweets and mailings help them to chat to their communities and share information. British Company HP Gibsons & Sons, Sales & Marketing Manager Amanda Murphy said this was their main marketing strength when trying to compete against bigger international brands, like Ravensburger.
No discussion on the shows trends would be complete without a mention of Plush. We were dazzled by beautiful cats and dogs, that can be made up with bling, and everything from transformer plush to talking plush. Ty were on show with their latest ranges, making us go soppy eyed for a cuddle at the end of the day with their latest Frizzy Beanies.
Frontline has been designing, developing and producing ideas that are innovative and inspire the shopper to engage with brands, for over 35 years. From insight and ideas, to implementation, we offer an integrated service for retail activations, including point of sale, shopper engagement, merchandising and display solutions, brand experience, shop- in-shop, exhibitions, and flag ship stores. Due to customer demand, we have recently introduced product and packaging designs to our extensive portfolio.