Huge streaming hits translate into high demand for toys
It’s holiday shopping season – like you needed me to remind you of this little stress bomb.
If you need ideas on what to offer the kids in your life, you can probably find out based on what they like to watch. Maybe they’re in the “The Mandalorian” or “He-Man” reboot. Maybe they just want to watch the same episode of “PAW Patrol” over and over again.
Madeleine Buckley covers the industry for The Toy Book. She said it’s true that television has always been a fodder for selling toys to children, but with streaming platforms changing the way we watch, the toy business model continues to evolve.
Madeleine Buckley: It was like, it’s children’s shows that air. That’s what every kid looks at, and each of those toys has a toy company that they’ve partnered up with, and these toy companies are going to make the toys. If they sell, so much the better, they will do more. And that’s how it worked. Now that they have YouTubers watching, they can go to Netflix and watch any kids’ TV show that has been made in the past 50 years. They have new shows coming out on a wide variety of streaming services. So all of a sudden we’re not in that “oh, every kid watches the same five shows” kind of anymore. And that complicates the toy landscape so much.
Jed Kim: So, are businesses going crazy right now? Or do you have the impression that they are in the process of finding out?
Buckley: I think they are figuring out. I know the pandemic has definitely sped things up. But I think the change has been slow and gradual enough that companies are just looking to streamline their process to get the most out of the streaming age. I mean, on top of all the new things streaming in, sure, but old things streaming in and then fulfilling that product demand. Because “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” Nickelodeon’s children’s show, launched on Netflix last year. And then all of a sudden, that request was there. This demand for consumer products came from streaming. This is not a new show. It’s been out for a long time. He had fans for a long time. But it wasn’t in the mainstream like it is right now until it landed on Netflix.
Kim: There is so much content now with streaming, how successful are companies in sustaining the delivery of related products?
Buckley: We are now living in this new era of toy and product manufacturing. When they launch a new kids’ show on Netflix, there’s no longer that guarantee, “Oh, all the kids are going to watch this.” So, with “The Mandalorian,” for example, they were so excited about Baby Yoda, keeping it a secret, that they couldn’t begin the product development process until they released the series. And then I think they knew people were going to like this character, but I don’t think they knew how much until the show fell. And then everyone’s like, “Well, where’s my Baby Yoda plush?” And so it was just kind of a mad rush to get these products on the shelves. Because when you have, you know, successful or really long-lasting brands that you know are already successful, you can make the product ahead of time, and that’s why it’s ready right out of the box. ’emission. But with streaming, when you don’t know if it’s going to be a success, it gets a little more complicated.
Kim: I mean, it’s crazy, though, because if I remember correctly, around the time the first “Star Wars” movie came out in the ’70s, they didn’t have their toys ready to go either. .
Buckley: You are very correct. They had no idea how popular “Star Wars” was. They hadn’t planned this deal for toys, ready to go. And in fact, at Christmas, they were selling empty boxes with IOUs for “Star Wars” figures because they couldn’t get the toys ready fast enough. And now we’re seeing that happening a bit more frequently with streaming hits like “The Mandalorian.”
Kim: This is the third holiday season for Disney +, a great powerhouse. At this point, how well is Disney + generating toy sales?
Buckley: A lot, in fact. We only see an overall impact of Disney + on the purchasing power of children. I spoke with Insights Family, which is a company that collects data on consumer trends and behaviors, and for August they had some really interesting data. For example, kids who watch Disney + in the 10-12 age range were 21% more likely to make movie-inspired toy purchases and 27% more likely to make TV purchases. And I think that has a lot to do with “Star Wars” and Marvel content, doesn’t it? Because this older age range, 10 to 12 [years old], that’s really when they get into that content, and there’s so much of it on Disney +.
Related Links: More information from Jed Kim
If you want to know more about the impact of streaming on toy sales, we have a link to Madeleine’s article. There’s a lot of cool stuff in there, including that kids who watched Disney + were more likely than average to buy things related to Disney TV shows and movies. This is the “Star Wars” and Marvel effect.
I asked Madeleine what the hot toys of the season were this year, and she told me about the Squishmallows, which are super soft, cute, plush toys / pillows. As it turns out, crushable items are also great for toy makers during a supply chain crisis. CNN has a story of how the space premium on shipping containers has caused some manufacturers to switch to making small, crushable items this holiday season. This is to maximize the available cargo space.
And finally, I include a link to “Tales from Moominvalley”, the classic children’s book from Finland. It contains, quite possibly, the funniest Christmas story of all time. If you are not familiar with Moomins, well, this is my gift for you. You’re welcome.
And I guess you can download an e-book version, because after all, this is a tech show.