A TO Z OF THE TOY INDUSTRY – G IS FOR GAMES
The board games category is a longstanding pillar of the toy industry. In fact, board games go back millennia – ancient civilisations were found to have played table based games.
This category delivers a disproportionate amount of longevity & stability to toy aisles across retail. While you might find most toys on shelf are new in any particular year, board game shelves usually feature more carry forward products than new launches. So while retailers every so often feel the need to cut shelf space for board games, it typically returns over time as it is such a solid, stable component of a toy department.
From a consumer view, if you ask consumers what they think of board games (which I have done – at least 60 or 70 focus groups with kids, families and adults asking them about board games), you tend to get an overwhelmingly positive response. Adults remember the board games they played when they were kids with a rosy glow of nostalgia. Kids tend to relish the opportunity to show off, compete and hook some of mum and dads attention and precious time.
Business wise, board games have a couple of major advantages versus some other toy categories. Firstly, as the major component tends to be cardboard based components, which derive from trees/wood which are comparatively cheap, board games tend to offer healthy margins to publishers, retailers and factories alike. Secondly, there is usually less tooling investment overall for a board games company versus a toy company which significantly reduces product launch risk. Thirdly, because good board games tend to grow year on year due to word of mouth & recommendation, they require less marketing expenditure (overall as a category) and tend to carry forward year on year if they are any good meaning they tend to be higher profit than many toy categories.
In recent times, the board games category has become somewhat trendy again, due in part to the effect of crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter which encourage more original and risque games versus the traditional route to market.
One prediction I can make with very little risk of being wrong is that regardless of what new technology lies round the corner, the board games category will be here forever!
by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight www.KidsBrandInsight.com, a leading Consultancy to toy companies around the world, which helps companies with product reviews & awards, find the right toy & game factories, consumer research test their products with kids and parents and secure export distribution/market entry around the world.