Seven things to watch in 2012

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. SportCraft filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy at the end of 2011.  Are any other companies at risk?
  3. 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? 
  4. Will more Chinese manufacturers follow Li & Fung’s example and purchase or invest in western toy companies?
  5. 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?

  • Europe’s economy continues to be worrisome.  How will this affect global toy companies whose retail sales are becoming more and more dependent upon sales in the Eurozone?
  • How rapidly and to what extent will the Chinese consumer market open up and how many manufacturers will see it as an opportunity to offset the European weakness?
  • It should be an interesting and hopefully a better year for everyone.

    What are you watching out for in 2012?




    4 thoughts

    1. The other big trend will be e- vs bricks and mortar- will Amazon, etc continue to drive into the toys market, and if so where.
      The independent sector will continue to move new product through e-channels, not least because of the increasing conservatism in the big retailers buying departments.

    2. Some good points here Richard, the gender issue is important. Doing well in the future? Diversity, and treat your buyers like they are intellligent, which they are!

    3. I’m highly interested in the emergence of more independent game designers in 2012. I think with the recent surge in Kickstarter campaigns and other growing trends, we’ll see more small “companies” (whether one individual or a few individuals) getting products to market. Could it produce clutter? Sure. But natural economics (i.e., your game is overpriced and/or not good) should soon move the junk to the bottom of the pile.

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