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Why retail can’t get enough of Tsum Tsum

We take a look at the craze for the cute stackable versions of popular Disney characters.

This summer, one of the big watchwords at retail is ‘stack-ability’ thanks to the arrival of Disney’s Tsum Tsum.

The collectable craze from Japan has exploded onto UK retail shelves, and those licensees who spotted it early are currently reaping the benefits.

One of these licensees is Posh Paws, which is enjoying “exceptional” sales of the plush line, as group brand manager Lauren Shipman explains to LSB.

“Both the Tsum Tsum app and mini plush were an instant success in Japan. The plush was a sudden craze; we’re not talking just a few hundreds of thousands of pieces sold, we’re talking millions of plush sold in nine months.”

Lauren continues: “Our Tsum Tsum plush is performing exceptionally well, with an overwhelming two million pieces and counting sold in under 10 months, since the original launch at Clintons stores. The brand is now listed across supermarkets, mass market toy specialists, independents and online retail.”

Lauren admits that not all Japanese crazes always translate overseas and there was some nervousness, but Tsum Tsum shows no signs of slowing down.

Luke Hillier, chief operating officer at Click Distribution, tells LSB that the company was tracking Tsum Tsum in Japan for 18 months before it launched in the UK and US. “First time we saw it, it really captured our attention,” he comments. “The artwork is incredible and the fact that it is a highly collectable licence and product was a perfect fit for us.”

Click distributes the Zuru range of minifigures in the UK – which Luke says is certainly one of its star performers this year – as well as the Panini sticker collection and bags from Trademark.


“The range for the tail end of the year really does look fantastic,” he says. “We have new waves from Zuru coming in for autumn/winter and Jakks has a range of figures coming in the summer which look incredible. I know their range is performing extremely well in the US, and hopefully that will continue in this market.”

The strategy with the plush, meanwhile, is to introduce new characters each month, keeping customers coming back for more and ensuring there is not surplus stock for characters that have been already purchased leftover at retail.

Upcoming launches from Posh Paws include Finding Dory, Jungle Book, Lilo & Stitch, Aladdin, Nightmare Before Christmas, Monsters, Inc, Beauty and the Beast and Moana. “We have also just launched our first Star Wars Tsum Tsum plushies and will have another Star Wars character release in September,” adds Lauren.

The Tsum Tsum success story isn’t just confined to the toy category, either. Blueprint Collections has seen strong sales for its novelty ballpen and pick up lines such as erasers, stickers and sticky notes, while ringbinders, pencil cases and notebooks are popular for back to school.

“We have some more gift lines in development, such as money boxes and plush stackable pencil cases for autumn,” explains Blueprint md Lisa Shand. “The whole collection will then be updated for spring 2017. Kids seem to love the collectability and the amount of different characters we have used. Everyone has a personal Disney favourite and we have made sure that the best rated characters have been used. There are so many characters that haven’t been released yet.”


And therein lies the secret to success for a collectable brand – the more characters there are, the better and characters are something that Disney has in abundance.

“Everyone knows the characters, from young children to adults,” says Click’s Luke. “It has a broad audience and consumer base, plus the collectability of the products is key for repeat purchases.”

Posh Paws’ Lauren adds: “At the moment Tsum Tsum shows no signs of slowing down, we have increasing demand from our retailer base and stores are securing their stock early. We also have a strong line-up planned for 2017 that will continue to capture the heart of the Tsum Tsum fan base. Also, with the introduction of Star Wars Tsum Tsum, this can only bolster the strength of the brand and indeed the craze.”

The cross-category presence for Tsum Tsum is certainly building at retail, and as we approach the Christmas period, sales are likely to increase even further as the price point makes them perfect for stocking fillers and Secret Santa presents. It seems that the phrase ‘stack ‘em high’ as never been more positive.

This feature originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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