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Toy crazes and knowing what to back

The Entertainer’s Rebecca Naish on reacting quickly and making the most of consumer demand.

I’ve worked in toys and licensing since 2006, and over that time I have seen many crazes and trends come and go. Who remembers Gogo Crazy Bones? Moshi Monsters? Yoyos? Loom Bands? Frozen? Finger Spinners? Slime? Now we are in the midst of the L.O.L Surprise phenomenon.

But how do we spot the next craze? Well, I suppose that’s the million dollar question.

It’s been a relatively quiet year for toy sales being generated from the movie and entertainment properties. Instead, all the buzz and top new properties have been generated from within the toy world – for example, L.O.L Surprise, Pikmi Pops, Squishies and Smooshy Mushy.

Even when you look back over the last few Christmases, the big toys such as Hatchimals, Furby, Fingerlings and L.O.L all started life within the toy industry. They were quickly licensed and the ranges expanded to capitalise on the opportunity. Now L.O.L Surprise is fully licensed for this Christmas it will be really interesting to see how the core toy range fares as it will be competing for the consumer spend on L.O.L.

We need to keep a firm eye on the gaming world, too, keeping track on where the new next big thing will come from. Think back to Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters for example, and more recently Minecraft. Now we all wait in anticipation for Fortnite and see how we can try and bring some of the gaming spend into the toy market.

The last ‘craze’ within toys from the entertainment world was PAW Patrol and to an extent PJ Masks. Movies, however, haven’t been delivering the sales at retail like they used to. I think we are all hoping that 2019 will be different with a stronger movie slate – but only time will tell.

In the toy industry we all live for the next craze. Those who are nimble, take a few risks and are quick to seize the opportunity will win. At The Entertainer we have seen success because we can react quickly and adjust our plans and we have reaped the benefits of this. We are proactive in trying to spot the next trend. Sometimes we are bang on and sometimes we aren’t. I say this as we are still sat on a lot of loom stock and Olympic plush…

At the same time you need to be build a strong and stable business – a craze can help make or break a year, but you need to remain focused on the core business and keep working to make sure you have a business once the craze has passed.

Basically don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Rebecca Naish is head of marketing and licensing at The Entertainer.

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

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