Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 22, 2013 04:04 PM
Lego—Europe’s biggest toymaker and the world's third largest—is having an impressive year thanks in large part to a new building block set for girls.
“Lego Friends” is the company’s sixth effort to target girls and their “most significant” new product in a decade according to CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp. “We were able to develop and launch products that children all over the world have put at the top of their wish lists in 2012.” “Lego Friends” was the company’s fourth-best selling product line in 2012, after “Lego City” sets, “Lego Star Wars” and “Lego Ninjago.”
Remarkably niche, Lego is singular in pushing through the widespread malaise affecting the toy industry, reporting an impressive 25 percent increase in revenue in 2012, topping No. 1 Mattel's sales growth. The Denmark-based company, which is still owned by the founding Kirk Kristiansen family, boosted their market share to 8.6 percent overall, with 85 percent of the U.S. building-block market—their best customers—under their belt. Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 22, 2012 02:02 PM
For close to 80 years now, pretty much every American kid has had a little bit of Babar in their lives. And now the Babar brand is getting a major push so that generations more will learn to love the kindly king of the elephants along with his wife Celeste, the monkey Zephir, and his four children, Pom, Flora, Alexander, and Isabelle, among others.
The first English-language edition of the Babar book series debuted in 1933, two years after it launched in France. Now about $100,000 is being spent on advertising and marketing the elephant to help keep growing the brand, according to the New York Times. The Times calls the campaign is an excellent example of comfort marketing, “which is particularly popular in uncertain economic times.” Those involved in the re-introduction of the brand include Saks Fifth Avenue, Babar publisher Abrams, Manhattan kids bookstore Books of Wonder, and plush-toy manufacturer Yottoy.
“It’s a strategy used regularly in the children’s marketing business, and when it’s well executed it can reinvigorate a property,” said Marty Brochstein, SVP for industry relations and information at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, according to the Times. Brochstein notes two other brands that have gone through the same process are Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas the Tank Engine.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 20, 2012 12:01 PM
The folks at Lego thought they were throwing open a door to a wealth of new consumers when it introduced its Lego Friends line back in December. Since it’s being designed for and marketed to girls, the company figured it would be creating a whole new source of revenue and please any parents eager to bring their daughters into the world of Lego.
Instead, it got a whole lot more, with 50,000-plus people signing a petition against the new line. The uproar’s volume may have been turned down since then but Lego Friends still has its detractors, a fact that the toy-maker is aiming to turn around.
The first step comes today, when Lego execs are scheduled to meet with two young women who helped lead the petition and discuss possible improvements, a release from Change.org states. Bailey Shoemaker Richards and Stephanie Cole launched the campaign against Lego on the Change.org site. The two 20somethings are members of the “girl-fueled organization SPARK Movement,” according to a press release.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 19, 2012 05:37 PM
While fast-food chains are responding to nutritional criticism by enhancing their kids menus, American children appear less and less interested in what they're peddling. NPD Group calculated that visits to fast-food restaurants in which kids meals were purchased have declined every year since 2007 and fell by 5 percent last year from 2010.
It's not that parents don't want healthier fare to their children when they eat out. In the U.S., analysts are suggesting that the notion of kids' meals is becoming increasingly outdated as family eating patterns change. And for that reason, they say, even sales of McDonald's iconic Happy Meal might be only flat these days at best — and at a chain whose other product lines are growing robustly, that's not good performance.
One factor, for example, is tight budgets that continue to afflict many American households — especially fast-food consumers — at a time of high unemployment and continued economic uncertainty. Mothers have "probably switched to the value menu because it was cheaper than the kids meal" at many chains, Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant-industry analyst, told the Chicago Tribune.
It also appears that kids are becoming disenchanted with the licensed toys packaged in the meals, at a younger and younger age, dropping from age 12 to eight. Blame digital entertainment, cell phones, and other rivals for kids' attention. But all of that apparently doesn't hold true in the UK, where McDonald's is using the revamped Happy Meal as a marketing hook to win over parents (via their kids) around its London 2012 Olympics sponsorship.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 18, 2012 11:13 AM
Barbie’s lived high on the hog for generations now, riding around in her own beach buggy, horse and carriage, private jet, Vespa. When she hasn’t been traveling in style, she’s been hanging out by the pool or in her three-story, pinkariffic dream townhouse.
But she may need to put away her fancy dresses and modes of transport for the time being, roll up her sleeves, and get her well-manicured fingers to work. (To that point, she's now making another run at the White House with a presidential glampaign.)
In the first three months of this year, for the first time in 10 quarters, sales of Barbie products went down for Mattel, which directly hurt the company’s bottom line, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Part of the explanation: Toys “R” Us and Walmart cut back on Barbie products in the first quarter, and a few other Mattel lines, such as Hot Wheels, Cars, and Fisher-Price, didn’t do so well, either.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 22, 2012 10:17 AM
For generations, Lego has been considered a pretty unisex toy. You could build anything with those colorful little plastic blocks, but that was before big-time partnerships and licensing ever became truly part of the marketing equation.
When you walk into a toy store and look at the Lego shelves, it’s not too hard to find Lego products aligned with things that are traditionally marketed to boys, and lately they've been co-branded: Lego Harry Pottery, Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Alien Conquest, etc. The strategy helped Lego engineer a massive brand turnaround, making about $1 billion last year in the U.S. alone. The next step, naturally? Creating Lego lines aimed at girls.
Having dipped a toe in the water with pink boxes containing brightly colored bricks and flowers, Lego went all out with the launch of Lego Friends, a line expressly targeted to girls, that launched in December. Not everyone, however, is convinced that gender-specific Lego is the way to go.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 15, 2012 12:04 PM
Today is the final day of the Toy Industry Association's 109th annual Toy Fair, wrapping up in New York with a power surge of touchscreens, apps and other tech-based entertainment (or edutainment) items designed to engage young minds — and open their elders' wallets. At a time when toy sales have been stagnant for the past several years, major toymakers and upstarts alike were banking on the whiz bang of tablets, interactivity, and apps to lift the industry from its doldrums.
This year's Toy of the Year at the fair is symbolic of the direction the industry is taking: LeapFrog's LeapPad Explorer Tablet, a $99 kid's version of a computer tablet introduced last February that was so popular retailers couldn't keep it in stock during the 2011 holiday selling season. LeapPad also won "Educational Toy of the Year" and "Preschool Toy of the Year."
The two leading toymakers, Hasbro and Mattel, both debuted app-related products at the Toy Fair. Hasbro updated its clasic board game, "The Game of Life," by promoting a version ("The Game of Life zAPPed," which is available now for $25) that resides on an iPad — literally. Download the app, place your iPad on the middle of the board and it serves as the "spinner" as swell as adding interactive games and videos to the fun.
Mattel's big entry into app-land is "Apptivity," a whole new toy line that turns the iPad into a live board game, by integrating such popular toys as Barbie dolls and Hot Wheel cars with tablet-based games. A child can race one of the new Hot Wheel cars on the screen of an iPad, or use Apptivity to enhance Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds game play.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 8, 2011 02:02 PM
We are truly a society where "The king is the child," as epitomized by Burger King’s new BK Crown meal and tagline: "Imagination is King."
The fast food giant’s revamped kids meal is geared to woo the younger set and parents, as it aims to compete with McDonald's recently revamped Happy Meals in the highly competitive kids' quick-serve dining category.
While McDonald's put the emphasis on nutrition, the new BK Crown meals are served in boxes with interactive games and cardboard crowns recalling the chain's namesake, and now largely a ceremonial figurehead BK King, whose last duty appears to have been giving away Xbox Kinect devices when they launched a year ago.Continue reading...