How NERF is blasting ahead in licensing

The Source chats to Hasbro’s Holly Oldham about the licensing darts NERF has yet to fire.

“With more than a 76% share of the blaster category, NERF has consistently stayed at the forefront of toy and play technologies by re-imagining, re-inventing and re-igniting the way consumers play. The ‘It’s NERF or Nothin!’ slogan has resonated well across all NERF segments ensuring the highest of quality performance, power and quality for consumers and fans,” explains Holly Oldham, director (UK, Nordics & South Africa) consumer products for Hasbro.

So how has a toy brand transcended the toy aisle to become a kids’ lifestyle brand? Part of the answer to this continued strength lies in the power of social media.

“NERF actively engages ‘NERF Nation’, a social community full of fan bloggers and consumers, via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter,” affirms Holly. “To date, the brand has more than two million fans from 135 countries on Facebook and over 600K fan videos featuring NERF product posted with over 14B views.”

Hasbro is understandably proud of the brand’s penetration globally – according to NPD, Nerf was the number one toy brand in the US in 2017 and the number two toy brand in the G10 markets (source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking).


“NERF in particular has a global audience which provides us the opportunity to bring immersive experiences to our fans,” says Holly.  “One experience we recently announced is a partnership with Kingsmen Creatives to launch NERF Family Entertainment Centers across Asia Pacific with the first opening in Singapore in 2019. This will be Hasbro’s first, standalone family entertainment center featuring multiple activity zones, merchandising and food and beverage areas that will engage and entrench all family members into the fun and action of the NERF brand.”

2018 is a key year for the NERF brand in the UK, particularly as we head into autumn and winter. The latest licensee signings tap into Nerf’s vision to empower kids of all ages to engage in active, social and exhilarating play and will span four key areas.

First up is NERF licensed gear with branded apparel, footwear and outdoor products and sports through a partnership with Smith & Brooks. Due to its massive success, Hasbro is confident in expanding the partnership to include NERF daywear, nightwear, footwear and accessories with the first phase launching September 1 2018. Looking ahead to 2019, Smith & Brooks will additionally offer NERF sporting/outdoor toys including bikes and scooters.


Commenting on the partnership Hamish Morjaria, md of Smith & Brooks, said: “We are delighted to be working with Hasbro on the development of multiple categories for the NERF brand. When we were first presented with the opportunity, we were most struck by how much loyalty customers have to the NERF brand across age groups. That brand loyalty is demonstrated not only by the $1bn annual consumer product spend, but even more impressive is the depth and quality of the user generated content that you can find. That for us was the real eye opener as to how strong the brand really is.”

NERF will also be building on its pre-existing relationship with Jazwares with high-quality branded accessories and wearables to amplify the NERF experience. Thanks to a partnership with Amscan, the NERF brand also promises to be big in the party sector too and has additional plans to grow into the consumables and homewares market.

The 50-year milestone in 2019 promises to be a key landmark for the brand, but Hasbro isn’t resting on its laurels. According to Holly, in the years ahead NERF will be focused on four key elements to maintain its successful growth pattern. Branded content promises to be fundamental and Hasbro plans to interact, support and amplify NERF Nation’s branded content through social channels and activations.


Toy innovation will also be key to the growth of the brand and NERF plans to continue to be at the forefront of toy innovation through new technologies and designs. Developing beyond toy products, NERF also looks forward to new licensee partnerships to launch new consumer products like apparel, footwear and consumer integrations past the toy sector. Not forgetting, of course, the launch of location-based entertainment with the NERF Family Entertainment Center launches.

“We are excited to bring the NERF brand to life with these types of immersive experiences for consumers in targeted locations to experience the world of NERF,” enthuses Holly.

So as NERF heads towards its big 5-0, can the brand still be nifty at 50? “As NERF continues to evolve and prosper, the brand aims to solidify itself as a top lifestyle brand of choice for children aged 7-14 and longer term we aim to deliver over $1 billion in incremental sales of new categories,” promises Holly.

“Through the development of additional licensees and products, we aim to have NERF continue to be the leader in the toy blaster category and we’re looking forward to expanding its success into new segments. We are definitely excited of all that is to come in 2019 with NERF’s 50th anniversary.”

2017 NERF Nation at a Glance

  • 429k followers on Instagram
  • 2.4 million Facebook fans in 135 countries
  • 99% of YouTube videos are fan generated

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2018 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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