Deborah Stallings Stumm, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bonkers Toys discusses key trends for the year, including toys based on YouTube creators, in the Toy Book‘s State of the Industry Q&A.

What business strategies are working now that wouldn’t have worked in the past?
The world has gone digital! Marketing and business strategies that dominated even five to 10 years ago, such as heavily print-focused campaigns and big TV commercial buys, are no longer key drivers, but rather supplemental marketing for specific markets. Marketing and PR dollars are largely being spent with influencers, video ads, and social media campaigns [on platforms] where toy consumers are extremely active. It is critical to reach customers where they are, and that is on their screens.

One thing that hasn’t changed? The power of face-to-face meetings and building relationships. I am a firm believer that people want to do business with others they like and trust. It is so important to do business with integrity and exceed expectations whenever possible.

Some of the hottest toys last year were based on YouTube content and creators. Do you expect this trend to continue this year?
Bonkers Toys is at the forefront of toys based on digital stars and gaming apps. Many view YouTube merchandise as a trend. Bonkers views this as the clear direction based on how kids are now consuming entertainment. Generation Alpha, the kids of millennials, rarely watches TV and is device-driven. Their preferred entertainment includes YouTube videos, gaming apps, and other forms of digital content. It is only natural that their heroes and role models come from digital content, especially YouTube.

Bonkers Toys was the leader with YouTube toys when we launched the Ryan’s World line in partnership with pocket.watch in 2018. The award-winning toys have created a frenzy with consumers and continue to be some of the hottest-selling toys at retail. Last year, Bonkers hit another home run with FGTeeV toys based on one of the most popular, family-friendly YouTube channels with more than 18 billion views.

This year, the industry will see a huge increase in the number of toy lines based on YouTube creators. Not all, however, will experience the same success in the marketplace. Bonkers Toys is extremely selective about the talent with whom we partner. We have developed strategic alliances and a propriety vetting system to ensure we are working with the stars kids are excited about and who drive sales at retail.

No doubt, there are emerging digital entertainment platforms that are starting to blossom, as well as many that have yet to be invented. Bonkers Toys will unquestionably be collaborating with these digitals stars of the future as well.


This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!