Holiday of Play 2015

Q&A with Ben Gadbois, Global President and COO, Spin Master Ltd.

SpinMaster.BenGadboisThe Toy Book (TTB): Which toy categories do you expect to expand in 2015? Which do you expect to contract?

Ben Gadbois (BG): While it isn’t a category itself, robotic technology is advancing the toy industry in revolutionary new ways. Toy robots are nothing new to the market, but over the past few years we are seeing more innovative integration of robotics, allowing kids to do incredible things. From our trainable, voice-recognizing dog, Zoomer, to the autonomous, fiercely independent Zoomer Dino, toys are coming to life and great new play patterns are emerging. This year, we are fusing the latest technology and robotics with the iconic Meccano brand (known as Erector in the U.S.) with our latest robot, Meccanoid G15 KS. Meccanoid embodies the core values of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and empowers children by acting as a fun and engaging way to learn about coding, robotics, and engineering. As society advances, so do our toys, and there is a new thirst in the market as consumer behavior shifts toward products that can be both fun and educational. [Read more...]

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...]

GUEST OP-ED: Is That a Squirt Gun in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Displaying Your Deep Human Need to Play?

by Matthew Lawrence, strategist, Fresh Squeezed Ideas

FreshSqueezedPlay2As a 42-year-old dad to two young boys, I get excited when they ask for toys bearing the same franchises I loved as a child during the 70’s and 80’s (It seems to be superhero everything, these days!). Providing them these experiences reminds me that I still have some youthful zeal and enthusiasm, which is a great asset in my role as a cultural strategist who works day-to-day at loftier, more adult-natured stuff. But it also reminds me that they are able to enjoy the richest play experiences possible, through tried and true brands that have endured the test of time. [Read more...]

GUEST OP-ED: Keep Kids’ Creativity Turned On, and Their Boredom Turned Off, This Holiday Season

YOXO Jeff Freeland NelsonThis holiday break, kids across America will be home and looking to stay occupied. After the novelty of new holiday gifts wears off, chances are parents will hear those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”

Pediatricians recommend less than one to two hours of screen time each day for children. So how do you fill those remaining hours without handing over the iPad or popping in a DVD? Jeff Freeland Nelson (pictured above), founder and CEO of YOXO, and former technical director of the Minnesota Children’s Museum, has tips to keep kids’ creativity flowing this winter break and throughout the year: [Read more...]

GUEST OP-ED: Deck the Halls, Not Your Customers: Tips for Handling Customer Complaints This Holiday Season

RonKaufmanheadshotFor the customer service sector, the holiday season is crunch time. With more shoppers, more sales, more shipping, more advertisements, and more product demand, there’s (so much) more potential for something to go wrong. At the same time, shoppers’ expectations are never higher. They don’t just want to check every item off their lists; they expect their shopping experience to be fun, festive, and full of good cheer. It’s the holidays, after all! No pressure, right?

Author Ron Kaufman admits that the holiday shopping season does seem like a minefield of potential customer complaints. But he’s also adamant that, handled sensitively, complaints can be a catalyst for improving customer satisfaction and capturing new business. [Read more...]