Author: Guest Contributor

Discussing Current Issues in the Dynamic Toy Industry on ‘The Playground Podcast’

On the latest episode of “The Playground Podcast,” Toy Book Senior Editor James Zahn joins hosts Richard Gottlieb of Global Toy Experts and “The Toy Guy” Chris Byrne to discuss the state of the toy industry in 2020. The conversation includes an overview of  Zahn’s backstory and path into the toy industry followed by a look at the challenges of the COVID-19 era. Additionally, the trio embarks on a deep-dive into the recent confusion involving the LEGO Group and the lessons we can learn from such a situation. Finally, the discussion takes a timely look at race, diversity, and...

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Tackling Intellectual Property Issues

by KRISTEN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association Toys sold through e-commerce platforms continues to be a priority for The Toy Association and its more than 1,000 member companies. The Toy Association plans to ramp up advocacy and education efforts throughout the year, meeting with legislators, enforcement agencies, and online marketplaces in the months ahead to work to iradicate the issue, which is putting so many American families and kids in harm’s way and undercutting legitimate, law-abiding brands. “The Toy Association has been working tirelessly to raise the alarm on the urgent issue of counterfeit toys — from...

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Implementing YouTube’s FTC-Required Changes

What Toy Brands and Influencers Need to Know by Melissa Hunter, founder, Family Video Network On Jan. 1, YouTube became a very different platform than the one that helped launch dozens of toy lines over the past decade. Due to the settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), changes had to be made to ensure that kids’ data is safe. Essentially, there are now only two types of content on YouTube: “made for kids” and “not made for kids.” YouTube creators have to declare whether their content is “made for kids” or not “made for kids,” either by individual...

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NPD: The Health of the U.S. Toy Industry

The remainder of 2019 should see a reversal in negative sales trends. by JULI LENNETT, vice president, industry advisor, U.S. toys, The NPD Group Year-to-date through June, the total U.S. toy industry saw retail sales drop by $705 million to $7.5 billion, a decline of 9%, according to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. This decline comes after strong growth of 7% over the same time period last year, which was largely a result of the Toys “R” Us liquidation sale. Not surprisingly, June was the best-performing month this year (when excluding Easter calendar shifts), down 1.9%, as the...

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The Uncertain Future of YouTube Influencer Collaborations Could be the Jolt Your Marketing Plans Need

by Clark Nesselrodt, Kathleen Tomes, and Brooke Schwartzman of Brilliant PR & Marketing Earlier this week, we found ourselves drafting an email to our clients in response to the recent FTC fines levied against YouTube’s parent company, Google. It seemed all too natural as public relations people to convey a tone of calm and indicate that nothing much would be changing. But then, we received the first tear-soaked call from one of our YouTube creator partners. Then another. Then, dollars previously committed to an influencer for a holiday YouTube campaign returned to us with the message: “No thanks. We...

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Games: A Category That’s Still Playing to Win

By Mary Couzin, CEO and founder, Chicago Toy & Game Group Board games remains a strong category, even though its sales are not rising at the incredible rate they have been for years. Global and U.S. game and puzzle sales last year declined 1%, as overall toy industry sales decreased by 2%, with sales still higher than 2016, according to the NPD Group. And despite the loss of Toys “R” Us sales, statistics show that the games category is thriving. Successful tabletop game projects raised $165.3 million on Kickstarter last year, up 20% from 2017, according to ICO Partners. The number...

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Ethical Toy Sourcing Gains Momentum

ICTI Ethical Toy Program Endorses Latest Regulations by MARK ROBERTSON, senior vice president, communications, and stakeholder engagement, ICTI Ethical Toy Program Now is the time to embrace manufacturing against a backdrop of new regulations, evolving consumer expectations, and global sustainability initiatives. ICTI Ethical Toy Program was at the forefront of ethical manufacturing last year. Last year’s highlights include the launch of refreshed Ethical Toy Program branding, which reflects our role as the leading responsible sourcing program for the global toy industry. We also introduced major program upgrades, including a new, risk-rated audit checklist, updated ethical toy factory certification, and increased...

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Leverage Your Brand’s Social Media Practices

Top Mistakes Brands Make on Instagram by BEN GUEZ, founder, LAXIR When you start a business, your brand needs to look legitimate on social media, requiring an audience’s attention. Unfortunately, if you are just starting out on Instagram, it is harder to gain a following and master the platform’s algorithm, and it’s important to remember some best practices for social media success. Here are the biggest mistakes I’ve seen brands make on Instagram — and why you should avoid them. Buying Fake Followers This is a huge red flag, even for brands that are just starting out. It’s obvious...

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Breaking Down the ABCs of STEM Toys

Developing creative and educational STEM-focused toys. by WENDY SMOLEN, founder, wendysmolen.com Not too many years ago, all a toy needed to attract parents was to have the alphabet on it. It didn’t matter whether the letter activity was age appropriate, kid friendly, used uppercase or lowercase letters, or even made sense. If it featured the ABCs and the packaging shouted, “educational!” then parents saw it as a leg-up to Harvard admissions. Today, new letters replace the ABC hype — STEM. Toddlers are now encouraged to learn advanced math, and preschoolers need to know the basics of engineering. There are...

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