I was just recovering from Fisher-Price’s product recall punch when they hit me again with their announcement today that sales fell 7% in the last quarter. That was a big surprise to me and a lot of people who closely watch the company and the industry. Just check out this Wall Street Journal Headline: "Mattel Disappoints As Fisher-Price's US Sales Sink."
So, what happened? It’s not totally clear yet but I can see two possible causes that I have not seen mentioned:
The loss of the Sesame Street brand to Hasbro
Hasbro’s ten year agreement with Sesame Street begins in 2011. The end of the relationship was announced ten months ago so that provided enough time for buyers to react. It makes you wonder if retailers went light on Sesame Street products from Fisher-Price out of concern that they would be left with out of date merchandise and Hasbro invaded the market with its own versions of Sesame Street branded products. They may have also had some concerns about Fisher-Price's over all fortunes and bought lighter across the board.
Silly Bands and Squinkies
These populist toy fads were inexpensive and had lots of appeal to small children. It makes you wonder if these simple toys cannibalized dollars, interest and time from Fisher-Price.
Mattel is our leader so the big question is whether their troubles are a sign of industry wide problems or Mattel problems. Stay tuned.