The Toy Book caught up with Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play, about predictions for the year and innovative business strategies.

Which products or categories do you expect to drive sales this year? How does this differ from last year?
Last year was an interesting year in that there were several stellar properties, with Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, and Ryan’s World taking a lot of market share. While we believe that these properties will continue to deliver, this year’s fall entertainment slate is much quieter in terms of new toy line launches, and it will allow for dollars to shift back to other lines.

What business strategies are working now that wouldn’t have worked in the past?
Two of the biggest impacts in recent years have been influencer content and e-commerce. Stars like Ryan and JoJo Siwa have not only garnered reach comparable to linear and theatrical entertainment, but they have also established extremely high engagement levels. Nowadays, parents are very aware of the creators that their children are watching, and new additions, such as Ryan’s Mystery Playdate and JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M. tour, add to the mass awareness not just of kids, but parents alike. Previously, licensed lines without linear content or theatrical support would never make it to retail. Changes in retail e-commerce have also made a profound impact on the way we launch, market, and sell toys, [which] continue to evolve with consumer behavior. As we saw in the last few months of the year, there will be an increasing emphasis on dotcom’s part in the retail experience as consumers shop closer to a holiday. The gap between brick and mortar and e-commerce will continue to [close], and the shopping experience will become more seamless as technology and operations advance.

Toys that embrace classic play are continuing to edge out products that incorporate technology. How does this affect your product design plans?
Much of our portfolio falls within the preschool audience. During these early years, toys play a very important [role in] a child’s development. Learning doesn’t necessarily have to be overly complicated and/or incorporate complex technology. At this young age, kids are expanding their imagination, communication skills, and social skills, and working on problem-solving, among other things. Our new Blue’s Clues & You! [toy line] includes role-play items, plush, figures, and playsets that provide kids with an engaging way to develop through play, including interactive features, music, and, of course, clues. For example, our Blue’s House Playset has clues and hidden surprises that allow kids to explore and problem-solve. We are always thinking about play value and how the brands we develop can provide the best experience.


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