Last year the British toy market was driven by blockbuster movie licenses. Star Wars enjoyed a 249% increase compared to the same time a year before, with over 2.1 million toys sold. It was also the top property during the first quarter of 2016. While action figures and plush categories were leading the way with growth of 16% and 21% respectively, smart toys created a new market segment. It’s fair to say there were a couple of unexpected toy stars of the year grabbing media attention both online and off: Hatchimals and Pie Face became the must-have toys of the year.Now that Toy Fair season is in full swing, toy brands continue to bring innovation to the market with new product launches, creative initiatives and striking consumer PR and marketing campaigns. Here are a few emerging themes for 2017 that we are looking forward to.
New licenses in 2017
Licensed toys were a top earner in 2016, and this year looks no different. Sales of movie-related toys represented 14% of the total market, an increase of 55% YoY and doubling since the same period three years ago. 2017 will see the release of Despicable Me 3, Cars 3 and Power Rangers. No doubt, London Toy Fair will have an array of yellow Minions on the show floor and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing Bandai’s new Power Ranger action figures and Mega Morph segment!
AR Storytelling and tech toys
At CES, the biggest tech show in the world, the kids’ tech marketplace has certainly grown in the last year. Augmented Reality technology was equally popular with adult gadgets at this year’s event, and after the Summer of Pokémon Go, it’s not surprising that the kids AR business will be stirring up the market in 2017. We are likely to see more innovators like Tilt finding ways to bring everyday objects to life for children’s entertainment.
A concept now growing in popularity is that it’s never too early to get tech into the little hands of kids. STEM toys and robots teaching kids to code have gained a lot of traction as they promote key skills needed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Following a recent report from the Institution for Engineering and Technology, we are likely to see more brands creating gender-neutral STEM toys. We are looking forward to seeing more innovators on the scene.
While gender neutrality in the toy industry was a highly-debated topic in 2016, strong female characters were certainly an inspiration for young children with the release of Ghostbusters and Star Wars’ leading-lady, Rae. This will continue to be a key theme this year, as toy brands launch Wonder Woman and DC Super Hero Girls products. ‘Nothing is impossible’ will be the key message this year, and many brands will be helping young people pursue their ambitions through play.
We will be heading to London Toy Fair on Tuesday 24th January 2017 and we are very excited to see the new hero products set for 2017. If you are heading to the show and would like to discuss consumer PR and digital marketing opportunities for 2017, feel free to get in touch.