The BLE Blog

The Force will be with toy retailers this summer

 Star Wars

Says Frederique Tutt, global industry analyst, at NPD Group. Movies are becoming more important than ever to the UK toy industry and Star Wars VII toy sales are forecast to be the biggest ever seen. Sales of movie-related toys by May 2nd this year represented 14% of the total market, an increase of 55% year-on-year and doubling since the same period in 2013.

2015 looks set to be another strong year for toys with the biggest numbers expected from the Minions Movie and Star Wars’ Episode VII. Disney’s retail event “May the fourth be with you” organized on May 4th, boosted sales by 25% in the week prior to the event. We expect Star Wars VII toy sales to be the biggest seen – a significant achievement, given Frozen’s record breaking £76M in toy sales at retail.

As well as launching new characters, the Hollywood studios have expertly turned their top franchises into sequels. These are less risky than new franchises for retailers, and often benefit from greater exposure as buyers know what level of business to expect. Star Wars has always been a favourite with kids and adults alike and so we expect this movie to be a hugely important driver of toy sales in the crucial last quarter of the year.

This is how they rank so far:
Rank      Movie
1            Disney Frozen
2            Star Wars
3            Marvel Heroes
4            Ninja Turtles
5            Transformers
Source The NPD Group, Retail Tracking Service, YTD to 2nd May 2015

Another strong trend showing in toy sales is for kids curating their own content – on tablets, YouTube and Netflix. We believe that increasingly for kids and toys, “content is the Holy Grail.” With its short-form videos and ease of use, kids are enjoying sharing and creating content on YouTube in particular. Accessing cartoons, films and videos on tablets through TV channels like Nickelodeon and subscription services like Netflix means kids can watch and engage with characters when they want to. TV channels, Hollywood studios and film makers are adapting to this changing media landscape where kids are in control of what they watch and when they watch it.

Short videos of popular toy properties such as Shopkins and LEGO City are achieving huge global viewing figures, some in the region of 12 million. We believe this contributes to the uplift in toy sales for some brands and is now an integrated part of marketing to kids for the major brands. In the toy sector, content is the new Holy Grail. Kids’ interaction with characters on screen drives demand and desirability for them to own the toys and play with them in the real world too. Properties with content including TV cartoons, webisodes, and digital games represented 39% of global toy sales in 2014, and properties with content saw a 13% increase in sales – while those without did not experience year-to-year sales growth.

Frederique Tutt is a Global Industry Analyst with The NPD Group which provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. NPD Group is a BLE Knowledge Partner and you can hear Frederique speak at this year’s BLE, 13-15 October 2015.


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