Sweet Suite 2016

Same Card, New Tricks: Using Gift Cards to Go Beyond the Basics

First Data LadyBy Euphemia Erikson, First Data

The holiday season is once again approaching, and this year, retailers are not leaving any tactics on the table as they begin strategizing creative ways to boost customer traffic. Starting Black Friday and continuing past Christmas, retailers will turn to door busters, flash sales, deep discounts, and shockingly early store openings to drive their holiday sales higher than years before.

With big picture tactics like these, it’s also important for retailers to remember the power traditional retail tools command when driving revenue up. Gift cards are consumers’ most desired holiday present, and for retailers this classic has the unique ability to drive value far beyond a single purchase. Digital and plastic gift cards, more so than store credit, add a nice edge to retail sales planning by supporting marketing efforts, driving sales, and even engaging new audiences. [Read more...]

Q&A with Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG

unnamed-4Marek Jankowski, president of Baby Care Magazines International, recently spoke with Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG, about the growth of Spielwarenmesse eG, toy fairs throughout the international community, and more.

Marek Jankowski: I remember us talking a few years ago. You mentioned that every year there are 200-250 companies queuing to exhibit at Spielwarenmesse. I suggested that you could build a new hall, but you were not convinced. You replied that assuming that the number of buyers remains stable, if they would scatter over a wider area, an average exhibitor would have fewer visits at their booth. But in 2014 you opened a new hall—3A. From today’s perspective, was it a good idea to build it?

Ernst Kick: Yes, I think, because we could have improved the quality of the whole fairground. I would say that the new hall 3A is one of the most modern halls in the world. And if you see it from the organisation view, the climate is better than in the old halls. We are also in discussion how to reconstruct the older part of the fairground. I think there can be some possibilities — not today, but in the future; I think it is also necessary. [Read more...]

The Lowdown on Doll Hunting: Doll Collecting in the Age of Social Media

This article first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

MelissaHunterHeadShotDoll collecting may be as old as the industry itself, but the newest generation of collectors is armed with video cameras, vlogs, and thousands of YouTube subscribers. They call themselves doll hunters.

[Read more...]

A Preview in Paris: Hape Hosts Sneak Peek of The Little Prince Movie and Tie-In Toys

by Scarlett Wisotzki, editor-in-chief, das spielzeug

On June 1, Peter Handstein, the CEO of Hape, rolled out the red carpet for his retailers in France, and gave them a sneak peek of The Little Prince movie and tie-in products prior to their official global release. Scarlett Wisotzki, the editor-in-chief of das spielzeug for the past four years, has this exclusive report:

[Read more...]

Q&A with Barbara Peacock, Creative Director, and Adam Mellema, Producer, Charlie & Company

Charlie_PlushSchool Zone Publishing Company is getting ready to unleash season two of its fun, educational children’s series, Charlie & Company. The Toy Book recently spoke with Barbara Peacock, the creative director of Charlie & Company, as well as its producer, Adam Mellema, about the show and upcoming plans for the brand, including toys.

[Read more...]

How Toymakers Can Succeed with Millennial Parents

by Catherine Mevs, strategy director, Red Peak Branding

redpeak_logo_rgbWith more and more Millennials stepping into parenthood, big name toymakers are trying to guess at the expectations of a new generation of parents. However, from Mattel’s introduction of its Siri-inspired Hello Barbie to Hasbro’s more compact preschool toys, thus far their efforts are either misguided or not going far enough.

[Read more...]

Barnes & Noble Throws the Book at Toy Retail

This article first appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of The Toy Book.

Science CenterThe great American bookstore has made room for a great American toy store.

Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., with nearly 650 stores nationwide, as well as a thriving web presence. But in recent years, the bookstore chain has also been expanding its non-book offerings, balancing out shelves of New York Times bestsellers with educational toys, games, and collectibles.

[Read more...]

Q&A with Diana Brobmann, CEO and Creative Director, Giggo Toys

Diana Brobmann, Giggo ToysThe Toy Book (TTB): How are you engaging customers to drive sales?

Diana Brobmann (DB): We have the most powerful tool in the marketplace–the mommy bloggers, and now, the daddy bloggers. We have partnered with a consortium of top bloggers to engage our target audience by providing timely information about Giggo Toys as well as enticing giveaways.

[Read more...]

The Unvarnished History of Beanie Babies and the Man Who Created Them

by Zac Bissonnette, author, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute

TheGreatBeanieBabyBubbleBetween 1996 and 1999, Ty Warner earned more than a billion dollars with a single line of understuffed beanbag animals that retailed for $5 each. In my new book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, I chronicle the story of how those animals became the strangest speculative bubble in the history of capitalism.

[Read more...]

Q&A with Andy Friess, President of Toy State

AndyFriess,headshotHaving recently been promoted to the position of president of Toy State, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Andy Friess to talk about the state of his company, its high-profile sponsorship agreement with Tommy Baldwin Racing, its upcoming plans for the R/C brand, Nikko, and more.

The Toy Book (TTB): How important are new licensing agreements to the growth of Toy State? 

Andy Friess (AF): Licensing plays a major role in our success. With the competition so tough in all toy categories, securing rights to strong licenses can provide the point-of-difference that separates us from our competitors. Toy State’s history of developing products featuring the highest levels of quality and innovation has been a great “selling” tool as we seek new licensing opportunities. We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a core of outstanding global licensors, and these relationships have been instrumental to the successes we have achieved over our 30-plus-year history. The 13-year, multi-category relationship with Caterpillar has been the foundation of our licensing efforts.

[Read more...]