The world of toys has changed and keeps on changing, and that means changes, too, for toy retail — changes that reflect some of the hottest trends in commerce.
Take subscription commerce.
To change the way that consumers buy age-appropriate toys, subscription services are focusing on offering specialized collections of play items designed for specific stages of a baby’s life. The core business for Lovevery, for instance, are play kits for little ones from newborn to 24 months old. Co-Founder and President Rod Morris said the company sees the play kits as a one-click solution: “We pare down and serve up the best of it,” Morris told PYMNTS in an interview. As a result, Morris said, there is “no need to purchase a slew of excessive toys.” Instead, everything a consumer would need for their children comes with that kit.
The play kits also come with content that Morris says consumers can’t get anywhere else on what their children need at that time. He also pointed out that the company designs and produces all of the items in the play kits — it doesn’t curate them from other manufacturers and makers. The company takes published scientific research on what skills a child in a given age range is trying to learn at that time across many different areas such as problem-solving, communication, creativity and social-emotional learning.
That’s not all.
To bring in shoppers with new experiences, Tru Kids, the new owner of the Toys R Us brand, is teaming up with Candytopia. The firms will create Toys R Us Adventure, which has been described as “an immersive wonderland that celebrates the whimsical, silly and fun of toys,” CNBC reported.
Toys R Us Adventure will come with more than 12 playrooms that are interactive and have installations that put a spotlight on Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R Us mascot. The play areas will open toward the end of October at Buckhead’s Lenox Marketplace in Atlanta as well as on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The exhibits will be open through the holidays at the end of the year before reportedly coming to different cities.
Speaking of the holidays, the ongoing U.S.-China trade war could cost U.S. consumers some $900 extra this holiday shopping season, according to a recent estimate. Additional tariffs on consumer goods are set to include toys and sports equipment on Dec. 15 — right in time for holiday shopping.
As that happens, other changes in toy retail are also taking place.
In an all-cash deal, Hasbro will purchase Entertainment One for 3.27 billion pounds or roughly $4 billion in cash. The deal is said to offer new exposure to the Power Rangers and Nerf toymaker, CNBC reported.
Hasbro Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said, according to the report, “Hasbro will leverage eOne’s immersive entertainment capabilities to bring our portfolio of brands that have appeal to gamers, fans and families to all screens globally.” As it stands, the company has been tying up with movie studios like Walt Disney and Paramount Pictures to bolster sales of toys that are connected to large movie franchises.
According to a Wall Street Journal report on the deal, “As toy sales have weakened in recent years, toy and entertainment companies have been looking to use their assets in many ways.” As examples, the paper noted that Mattel rolled out a film studio to make films based on Barbie as well as other toys. And it notes that Hasbro made a Monopoly version for Fortnite, a popular video game.
That’s the general picture for toy retail as consumers start thinking about holiday gifts — though more changes could be store in the coming months.