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Wrapping up 2022

KI’s Jemima Skala takes a look at some of the company’s main takeaways from 2022 and gives a preview of what 2023 might hold.

And so, in the blink of an eye, the year draws to a close. Amidst the chaos of 2022, the world of family focused licensing has remained comfortably predictable.

As we draw to a close, today we’re sharing a few of our main takeaways from this year and give a quick preview of what 2023 might hold.

Minions do-minion-ated the box office

To no-one’s surprise, the box office was absolutely dominated (or do-minion-ated, if you’d prefer) by the release of Minions: The Rise of Gru this summer, taking $369.5m over the course of the year.

Though the franchise is usually popular with a younger audience, Minions went viral on TikTok when teens dressed up in formal wear to go and see the film, dubbing themselves ‘Gentle Minions’, a pun on ‘gentlemen’. The #GentleMinions meme meant that its audience skewed slightly older, with exit polling service PostTrak reporting 34% of the 4 July weekend were aged 13-17.

Toy retailers adjust for cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis was inescapable this year, but particularly so for families and parents of young children.

Price is more important to consumers than ever, with longevity and durability coming a close second; Melissa Symonds, UK director of toy analyst NPD, was quoted as saying that the ‘sweet spot’ for toy retailers was pushing toys priced £20-£50 that would last and be interesting to children beyond the festive season.

At the same time, Aimee Hill, a toy selector for the Toy Retailers Association, said that ‘kids are lucky enough to be put first’ and ‘people want fun this year more than ever because they are facing some real challenges.’

Kids YouTube content soars in 2022

With the wild successes of CoComelon, Little Baby Bum and similar, it’s no surprise that kids content on YouTube has continued to be wildly popular with children in 2022.

In fact, Ofcom’s report on children’s media usage and attitudes, published in March 2022, reported that YouTube is the app most used by children aged 3-17, with 84% popularity of 3-4 year olds.

United Talent Agency also released a report in August that found that kids content was the most popular type of content on YouTube, with the total viewing time for the top 10 kids channels having increased by 15% in the first six months of 2022. In the same time period, overall viewing time on YouTube had decreased by 0.3%, demonstrating exactly how popular preschool content on YouTube is with kids and parents alike.

Unsurprisingly, CoComelon, Like Nastya, Kids Diana Show, plus Vlad and Niki were the most viewed channels in the report. It shows that the big hitters of preschool YouTube content are still retaining their popularity, but also that YouTube is certainly an area to be kept in mind by licences and brands when planning content going forward.

Evergreen toys are being favoured

Experts predicted the top toys for the 2022 festive season and surprisingly a lot of classic, evergreen toys make the top list. John Lewis’ top 10 includes LEGO, Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, though Hamleys’ top 10 includes more contemporary licences like Peppa Pig and CoComelon, they feature alongside Barbie and Buzz Lightyear.

This potentially indicates a move away from trend-led festive purchases, perhaps encouraged by the need to be more cost effective this year more than ever. As above, with retailers having to adjust for the cost of living crisis, this indicates that consumers are looking for toys that will remain interesting to children for longer, and have more potential to be passed down between siblings, cousins and generations.

Looking to 2023

Heading into 2023, we’re predicting that behaviours and desires born out of the pandemic will show strongly in favoured toy types, with a lot of travel and cooking-oriented toys making an appearance in manufacturers’ lists. With families cooking more at home and being forced to stay indoors for nearly two years, it’s no surprise that kids are picking up on their parents’ habits and imaginative wanderings.

The pandemic similarly delayed the release of a lot of major franchise films, so expect to see more toy tie-ins with film releases like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie.

Digital experiences are also likely to play a bigger part in kids’ toys as work on the metaverse progresses. The power of Roblox also can’t be ignored going into 2023 – learning from the case of Walmart Land on Roblox this year, brands and licence holders should look to build authentic on-platform experiences that engage the fans that are already there.

Lots to look forward to! Happy Christmas to all.

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