Executive Briefings

In Cutting Time to Market, Toy Companies Try On Fast-Fashion’s Approach

Toy companies are mimicking the moves of fast-fashion retailers as they scramble to produce toys and games tied to the swift rise and fall of trends driven by social media.

Hasbro Inc., Mattel Inc. and other companies are rushing to collapse production times and capitalize on fast-moving trends such as slime-making kits, and viral videos that can spawn new games and toys. The goal is to spot ideas and get products in stores in a matter of months instead of the following Christmas.

Toy companies need rapid turnaround times if they are to profit from these trends, which spike and dissipate quickly. Copycats, usually smaller manufacturers, also can quickly crowd the market.

The quest to discover more fads comes as the $27bn U.S. toy industry experiences a slowdown. It grew just 1 percent last year after rising 5 percent and nearly 7 percent in the preceding two years, according to NPD. The research firm said the 2017 growth was fueled by toys tied to “social media driven trends,” while higher-priced toys and those tied to some movie properties such as “Star Wars” fell short.

Toy makers — who convened in New York this week for the four-day North American International Toy Fair — also are coping with the bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us Inc. The retailer is closing about 20 percent of its stores.

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Hasbro Inc., Mattel Inc. and other companies are rushing to collapse production times and capitalize on fast-moving trends such as slime-making kits, and viral videos that can spawn new games and toys. The goal is to spot ideas and get products in stores in a matter of months instead of the following Christmas.

Toy companies need rapid turnaround times if they are to profit from these trends, which spike and dissipate quickly. Copycats, usually smaller manufacturers, also can quickly crowd the market.

The quest to discover more fads comes as the $27bn U.S. toy industry experiences a slowdown. It grew just 1 percent last year after rising 5 percent and nearly 7 percent in the preceding two years, according to NPD. The research firm said the 2017 growth was fueled by toys tied to “social media driven trends,” while higher-priced toys and those tied to some movie properties such as “Star Wars” fell short.

Toy makers — who convened in New York this week for the four-day North American International Toy Fair — also are coping with the bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us Inc. The retailer is closing about 20 percent of its stores.

Read full article