Q&A with Sharon DiMinico, Founder and CEO, Learning Express

Learning Express.sharonThe Toy Book (TTB): How are Learning Express retailers engaging consumers in-store to drive sales?

Sharon DiMinico (SD): Every month, our stores publish a full calendar of events to draw people into the store. We engage, we entertain, and we have product demonstrations. We also offer classes, costumed character appearances, and featured guests (silhouette artists, musicians, authors, etc.). We learned early on that customer-centric services and the “wow” factor would be the only way to compete with buying toys online from the comfort of your home. [Read more...]

Q&A with Willie Wilkov, Chief Marketing Officer, Tomy International

Willie Wilkov CMO TOMYThe Toy Book (TTB): Which licenses do you anticipate will be key drivers in 2015?

Willie Wilkov (WW): 2015 is a big year on the license front for Tomy. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with Disney on two new Disney•Pixar movie properties–Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur– as well as the new Disney Junior TV show Miles from Tomorrowland. While we expect these new licenses to be key drivers for us in 2015, we have a portfolio of licensed properties that perform for us year after year, and we are anticipating growth in those brands as well. John Deere is an evergreen brand with a loyal following that is perennially one of our strongest selling lines company-wide. Our partners at Sega and The Pokémon Company International continue to bring new fans into their incredibly popular franchises, Sonic Boom and Pokémon, with fresh, engaging content, giving us so much to work with in our toy development. In the classic play arena, we see both Chuggington Wooden Railway and Chuggington StackTrack continuing to provide that first train experience for kids and growing with them through their love of train and construction play, while Lamaze maintains its stronghold as a leader in the infant developmental toy aisle. [Read more...]

Q&A with Carter Keithley, President and CEO, Toy Industry Association

TIA.CarterKeithleyThe Toy Book: What challenges are currently facing the toy industry and how is the Toy Industry Association (TIA) addressing them?

Carter Keithley: Over the past several years, our industry has done a tremendous amount of work to maintain and strengthen our robust safety standards. Nonetheless, the toy industry continues to be confronted with spurious allegations about the safety of toys and non-toy children’s products. Of course, these misleading allegations often emerge around the holiday season, and they have the potential to damage our industry’s reputation and unnecessarily worry toy givers. This is especially frustrating given the many proven developmental benefits of toys and play. [Read more...]

Q&A with Billy Lagor, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific at Hasbro

Billy LagorThe Toy Book (TTB): What kind of marketing promotions are going on in the region in anticipation of Chinese New Year?

Billy Lagor (BL): We have significant promotional activity surrounding Chinese New Year. This consists of a substantial range of marketing activity to engage our shoppers and consumers, similar to what happens during the holiday season in the U.S., and development of unique products designed with a Chinese New Year theme or to meet specific Chinese New Year product expectations. See below for some examples from the past two years.
Microsoft Word - HASBRO AND THE CHINESE MARKET - Billy interview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q&A with Eric Nyman, Senior Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing at Hasbro

EricNymanThe Toy Book (TTB): How do you utilize consumer feedback in product development?

Eric Nyman (EN): Hasbro puts our consumers at the center of everything we do, and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of change in the way kids and families play today. Therefore, we conduct extensive research and are in constant conversation with our consumers to better understand their wants and needs and make sure we are delivering the world’s best play experiences. Over the last several years, Hasbro’s marketing team in conjunction with our consumer insights team has talked to tens of thousands of kids of all ages through research and in our three Fun Labs around the world. [Read more...]

Q&A with Eva Lorenz, Category Leader, Amazon Toys & Games

Eva Lorenz, AmazonThe Toy Book (TTB): How are you engaging consumers to drive sales?

Eva Lorenz (EL): Amazon customers, particularly busy parents, appreciate having the ability to shop on their own time and from the comfort of their own home or while on-the-go using a mobile device. They also love having access to the largest selection of products and all the information they needcomprehensive product details, high-resolution images, video content, and customer reviews–to make informed purchasing decisions. We consistently deliver on these promises to customers, which has earned their trust and keeps them coming back to shop on Amazon. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: The Toy Industry Celebrates Valentine’s Day

SkylandersPopFizzOh, Valentine’s Day—the holiday people love, and the holiday people love to hate. Whichever way you see it, Valentine’s Day is at least a good enough excuse to eat a lot of chocolate, binge-watch romcoms, snuggle up with your favorite plush, and play with Valentine’s Day-themed toys. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Disney Frozen Poised to Dominate Again, or, We Welcome Our New Toy Overlords from Arendelle

FrozenFever2It’s the age of Frozen, and not just because of this freezing weather we’ve been having.

If you work in the toy industry, you’re probably familiar with Disney Frozen as a powerhouse license. According to data from The NPD Group, it was the top gainer among all toy properties last year, generating $531 million in toy sales across more than 39 categories. This is well and good for the toy companies fortunate enough to have partnered up with Team Elsa. On the flip side, if recent events are any indication, not having the license for Disney Frozen has the potential to be hazardous. [Read more...]

GUEST COMMENTARY: International CES Explodes with Family-Friendly Tech

by Reyne Rice, toy trends analyst and consultant

Meccanoid G15 KS, from Spin Master

During the first week of January, International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 unveiled the latest consumer electronics innovations. Kids, families, and educators were among the target audiences for this new world of technology, which extended across all exhibitor areas. Here are some of the family tech-focused highlights from the show: [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Hey, Toy Industry! It’s Not Too Late for New Year’s Resolutions

NewYearsconfettiAh, the start of a new year. Typically, it’s the time in which we take stock of what we have, consider how we can make our lives even better, and then “resolve” to carry out those plans. It’s with this in mind that I’ve put together a list of New Year’s resolutions–not for myself, mind you; I’ve already composed that list, which is why this commentary is up at deadline, instead of several hours past. No, I’m talking about resolutions that I’d like the toy industry to consider taking on. Because as absolutely perfect as a thing is, there’s nothing like a detached observer’s unsolicited advice to make it even more perfect, am I right? [Read more...]