A To Z Of The Toy Business – B Is For Brands Like Barbie
Brands are so important in the toy business. Because our childhood is such a pivotal time for human beings, our childhood experiences become deeply engrained within us. We form a strong emotional attachment to the toys & games we play with as children. If we play with a particular toy when we are young, and that toy is still around when we are buying toys for our own children, we are much more likely to buy the toys we loved, albeit (hopefully) updated and modernised for the times.
One brand which has very definitely passed the test of time is Barbie. Originally launched as far back as 1959, playing with Barbie has been a rite of passage for generations of young children. Barbie has tended to reflect the times, in terms of fashions but also in terms of society and social narrative. In recent years Barbie has become broader in terms of inclusivity to reflect the zeitgeist of the times, and in the process remaining an integral part of the childhood of many children.
Brands in the toy business though are not just about warm rosy feelings of nostalgia. They are also about hard cash. Barbie alone generates more than $1bn (USD) per year for brand owner Mattel. Barbie obviously isn’t the only toy brand delivering massive sales, brands are ubiquitous in the toy business. In many ways in fact, the goal of every toy company should be to create, build and commercially exploit brands. In a business where more than two thirds of toy products on shelf each year are new, brands become highly profitable as they often need less marketing, can often carry forward into subsequent years, sometimes need less investment and are more likely to be listed by retailers.
Brands can also create significant tangible brand equity. If you look at the history of growth for major toy companies, the big landmarks along the way are often major acquisitions of toy brands. The most recent example would be Spin Master’s acquisition of Rubik’s brand and the iconic Rubik’s cube.
Brands are the fundamental foundation of most toy companies enjoying longevity and sustainable growth.
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