IMC Toys‘ Country Manager Karen Branson discussed the company’s animated content network, social media strategies, and more with the Toy Book.
The Toy Book: What are the advantages of a company having its own content network?
Karen Branson: For a toy company like IMC Toys, it’s all about expanding the brand beyond the physical product. IMC Toys is focused on launching content-specific brands and has seen great success utilizing this strategy in Cry Babies Magic Tears, to the tune of more than 900,000 units sold in 2020 in the U.S. alone! Viewers can tune into IMC Toys’ YouTube content channel Kitoons, and watch custom content that furthers the brand story by delving into the characters’ personalities, the world they inhabit, and the values that they embody. Thanks to the storytelling that the channel allows, Kitoons has built a huge following with more than 3 billion views globally and counting.
VIP Pets is an example of how custom content can be leveraged to launch a brand. IMC Toys has invested close to $2 million in VIP Pets digital content alone. This creative content has helped to build a following, which has led to more than 200,000 units sold in 2020, despite having less than 50% of the market covered. We have been able to create a fan base, which in turn drives higher demand for the product. As we look into 2021, you’ll see growth from the VIP Pets brand with increased distribution, as well as increased original content from the IMC team.
TB: What role does social media play in your marketing efforts?
KB: Social media plays a huge role with IMC’s marketing campaigns, especially mid-pandemic where connecting virtually is the new normal. Our goal with social media is to connect with our customers in informative and engaging ways.
Not only do we create custom content that keeps consumers informed, but we also routinely implement strategies to keep followers engaged and coming back to our pages. This includes hosting contests and resharing user-generated content to really make them feel like they are part of a community.
Outside of our owned social channels, we strive to have a presence on channels that we know our customers follow. Partnerships with social media influencers are strategically put in place to ensure our products are being introduced not only to the widest audience possible, but also to the most relevant.
2020 saw the launch of the VIP Pets brand and its own dedicated TikTok channel. With the premise of hairstyling and makeovers at the core of the brand, we knew that TikTok was the best platform for the kind of content we wanted to deliver. Leveraging strategic influencer partnerships and tying into prominent trends, the account went viral with more than 5.7 million views! This worked to IMC Toy’s benefit in multiple ways. One, it allowed consumers to get a sneak peek of the brand and unboxing experience, building buzz, and two, it drew fans to the account which led to a total of 15,000 followers.
This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!