Toy World spoke to a selection of Pre-school toy suppliers to discuss what’s new for the category this year.
It’s fair to say that the Pre-School category is facing challenges. Over the past two years, some £200m has been lost in UK purchases. This figure may come as an unpleasant surprise to many who feel that the Pre-School (0-3) category is relatively protected from the ingress of products usually associated with slightly older children – video games and other screen-led activities, fashion and collectibles. The figures don’t lie though; speaking to one expert, the NPD’s Rory Partis, it seems the bulk of the issue may lie towards the younger end of the age spectrum. Parents, he says, are more aware than ever on the impact of spending on toys that may not be played with for very long, and therefore may instead be favouring second-hand items and hand-me-downs from other siblings. As readers with young children will know, infants and toddlers don’t really care if a toy is brand-new; they’re more interested in the fun it provides.
Pauline De La Riviere, marketing director at Mattel, agrees, and also points to ongoing issues with retail. “The pre-school market is a challenging category and there are a number of factors that have affected it over the last two years,” she explains. “The shrinking of the retail landscape, particularly in this category, has not only affected sales but also the service and advice that consumer would receive on products as trusted parental partners. As the economy and the environment continues to be a concern for parents, we see an increase in the second-hand market. This means that brands need to look at new ways to support parents, with advice on product needs offered through digital platforms, and through product development to ensure that brands help parents by introducing grow-with-me features that offer a sustained investment.”
“2020 is a very exciting year for us,” adds Pauline. “Not only are we celebrating Fisher-Price’s 90th anniversary but we have also launched our new brand campaign, Let’s Be Kids.”
Little Tikes is aiming to increase its presence in the category by teaming up with Moonbug to launch the first range of Little Baby Bum toys, based on the characters from the popular and globally recognised YouTube channel. Little Tikes’ key focus is to inspire playing and learning together through active and imaginative play, with a new line of products that encourages children to build skills through mobility, exploration and social interaction.
“We’re really excited about the number of ranges we have in the pipeline for 2020, which will facilitate these core skills, and support development from birth,” explains MGA’s UK SVP, Andrew Laughton. “Little Baby Bum is a very important brand for MGA. Since its launch in 2011 Little Baby Bum has won global recognition and generated over 23b views and over 21m subscribers on YouTube. We share so many values when it comes to development through play and we’re thrilled with the launch. We’ve created a fantastic line of products and there is more investment and products coming in the autumn.”
Read the full article, plus a comprehensive roundup of all that’s new to the pre-school category, in the April issue of Toy World.