Source: PlayWise Partners/the Toy Book

Rachel Griffin, co-founder of PlayWise Partners talks about the lack of trade shows, working with influencers, and more in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A.

The Toy Book: What trends will have the biggest impact on the toy industry in 2021 and beyond?
Rachel Griffin: The pandemic has forced creativity in how families live life, from pod parties and drive-by birthdays to game nights with grandparents via Zoom. It’s an open invitation for a creativity surge in the toy industry as well, and we expect to see more innovation this year. With the shift in franchise movies, we expect even more products to be created around influencers from YouTube and TikTok. In addition, we believe family games, toys that deliver high play value, and learning-based STEM toys will continue to grow.

Caregivers are looking to engage their kids in fun ways while keeping them off screens as long as possible, since they are spending so much time on screens for virtual schooling. Finally, we expect impulse and fidget toys to be big this year. As restrictions begin to ease, kids will be able to pop into stores with their parents (#targetrun) and spend their pocket money on the lower price point items that they love. Here’s to innovation and silver linings!

TB:How are you making up for the lack of major trade shows this year with adjusted marketing strategies and PR efforts for your clients in 2021?
RHG: While we hope major events (trade and consumer shows) will be back by the second half of 2021, we are aware that may not be the case. Similar to the success we found in 2020, we must be creative and utilize the tools in our toolbox. We will continue to join the conversation primarily through traditional media, social media, and influencers. Thanks to key platforms such as Zoom and Skype, as well as Instagram and TikTok, we are able to bring our messaging from trade show and consumer events to the living rooms and fingertips of our audiences, which easily converts to online sales. Additionally, we will continue to sponsor media opportunities when available to control messaging and timing.

TB: What role does working with influencers play in your marketing efforts?
RHG: Influencers play a large role in our PR and marketing efforts on behalf of our clients. While traditional media tactics can build broad awareness, influencer content can reach a very targeted and engaged audience to drive bottom-of-the-funnel conversion. It’s important to identify the right influencers that align organically with your brand and deliver strong engagement. Overall, we advise our clients to have a healthy mix of kid and parent influencers on both the paid and the earned side across multiple platforms. Kids and parents consume social content differently and trust different sources. To stay “in the know,” you need to tap in to all of them.

This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!

About the author

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik was the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book from 2020-2022. She was also a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider.