I have just arrived in Hong Kong to begin a series of three vital toy industry trade shows: The Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair; the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse and the New York Toy Fair. Over the course of these shows I will be able to get a sense of how 2011 finished out; how buyers, salespeople and manufacturers are feeling about the coming year and what hopes and concerns are dwelling below the surface.
Below are some topics that I think bear watching in 2012. My visits to the three shows will hopefully provide me with insights on these subjects that I will share with you:
- How did retailers finish out the year? To what degree did they sell through their inventory and are they ready to make strong inventory bets on 2012?
- SportCraft filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy at the end of 2011. Are any other companies at risk?
- Tomy purchased RC2 and Li & Fung purchased Technosource in 2012. Will they flex some muscle and if so what impact will it have on the industry?
- Will more Chinese manufacturers follow Li & Fung’s example and purchase or invest in western toy companies?
- Will gender and toys become a hot topic in 2012? The end of 2011 witnessed on four oddly convergent notes: Noted author, Peggy Orenstein wrote major editorial for the New York Times about what she sees as a gender ghetto in the toy department. A little girl’s YouTube tirade over what she sees as a disadvantage for girls in the toy department drew millions of page views. Hamley’s, the famous retail toy store in London, announced they were doing away with gender based signage and merchandising. Lego announced the launch of “Lego Friends,” an attempt to draw more girl builders. Is this the beginning of a trend in raised gender consciousness when it comes to toys?
It should be an interesting and hopefully a better year for everyone.
What are you watching out for in 2012?