Licensed toys account for 30% of UK sales

With several blockbuster movies set to launch this summer, The NPD Group has looked at the links between the big screen and toy sales and concluded that 2022 could be the year of the ‘blockbuster’ toy.

Licensed toys account for 30% of all sales this year, their highest level since 2008. By remaining relatively flat at -1%, licensed toy sales have out-performed non-licensed toy sales which are currently down -11% in value (Year-to-date May 2022 vs the same period last year). The largest licences this year are Star Wars, Harry Potter and Minecraft, with content including movies, streaming shows and video games.

The big screen is back

Three of the most anticipated films of the year are released during June and July: Jurassic World Dominion (released 10 June), Lightyear (released 17 June) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (released 1 July).

Melissa Symonds, NPD’s Executive Director of UK Toys, says: “We’ve already seen strong growth from movie releases this year such as The Batman driving toy sales up 84%, and Marvel Universe up 12%. Even ahead of their film launches, the Jurassic World toy license is up 63% and Minions up 79% so far this year. While prices and the cost of living pose a real-world challenge, cinema can provide an escape from everyday life. By buying toys related to the film they’ve just seen, kids can live in that world a little longer.”

Additionally, most of the big studios have implemented a multi-channel strategy that allows them to offer new content to fans continuously, instead of being restricted by one big movie release every three years.

“Many of these summer blockbusters have additional content available. There are series available on video-on-demand platforms such as Camp Cretaceous for the Jurassic saga, or Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, not to mention the various Marvel streaming shows such as Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight developed around the lesser-known characters which enrich and extend the appeal of the franchises,” comments Symonds.

The top five movie properties YTD May 2022*
1.       Star Wars
2.       Marvel Universe
3.       Barbie
4.       Pokémon
5.       Paw Patrol
Source: The NPD Group

A record year for licenses for UK Toys

Symonds concludes: “2022 looks set to be a record year for licensed toys. With the big screen making a comeback, all eyes are on the summer blockbuster movies, but we also expect to see non-cinema licensed content performing as a powerful catalyst for the toy market thanks to TV, YouTube, subscription video-on-demand and video games. This should bring us one or two points of growth over the whole year.”


Stateside | Pokemon, Marvel, and Barbie help fuel US toy sales surge as market grows 27 per cent

Major properties including Pokemon, Barbie, Star Wars, and LEGO have contributed to a booming first quarter toy sales in the US that witnessed an increase of 27 per cent between January and April 2021, according to The NPD Group.

Ten of the 11 super categories tracked by the NPD posted double digit growth versus the year prior, contributing to a sales increase totalling $1.5 billion in the first four months of the year.

All super categories posted a positive two year compound annual growth rate, with seven super categories showing double digit growth rates compared to 2019. The market is led by the Outdoor and Sports Toys category, which – having experienced gains of $324 million – continues to be the largest super category, with $1.6 billion in sales.

The Plush market witnessed the fastest dollar growth in the first quarter, surging 44 per cent on 2020 numbers.

“As we lap the lockdowns of 2020, the super categories that had surging growth last year, like Games and Puzzles, appear to be slowing down,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, US Toys, The NPD Group.

“However, it’s important to realize that sales are still strong for Games and Puzzles in 2021 which is reflected in the two-year CAGR growth of 34 per cent, the fastest growth compared to 2019 of all super categories.”

Strategic Trading Cards has been marked among the top growth sectors, driven in large by Pokemon but holding strong across all 96 classes tracked by the NPD.

Pokemon has been highlighted as the top growth property year-to-date, followed by the likes of Barbie, Star Wars, LOL Surprise, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, NERF, LEGO, Star Wars, and Funko Pop.

Collectively, these ten properties grew 48 per cent while the rest of the market grew 22 per cent from January to April 2021.

“We can’t understate the impact that federal stimulus payments had on toy industry performance this year,” said Lennett. “The follow up to that will be the child tax credit which will provide cash in the hands of parents each month starting in July and through the end of the year.”

Licensed toy sales grow 45 per cent across China as NPD reports ‘sales surge’ across the region

Sales of licensed toys in China have grown 45 per cent in the first quarter of the year, amid a solid growth of 16 per cent of the overall Chinese toy market to hit $1.2 billion (USD) in the first four months of the year.

Top gaining toy licenses in the region include the likes of Ultraman, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Disney’s Frozen as licensed toy sales take the lead on sales of non-licensed toy for the same period, that witnessed a more modest growth of 13 per cent in Q1.

The country posted the highest growth rate for the quarter in January this year when it saw sales increase 34 per cent, driven primarily by purchases made for the February 12th Chinese New Year celebration.

It’s according to a new report from The NPD Group that all toy super categories posted growth in Q1 2021, led by infant, toddler, and preschool toys which increased three per cent. Other top performing super categories in the region included Building Sets, Outdoor and Sports Toys, Action Figures and Accessories, and Explorative and Other Toys.

The Outdoor and Sports Toys posted the highest gains in value sales with an 18 per cent increase over Q1 2020, reaching $192 million.

Sales in China’s toy market was dominated by Chinese manufacturers, with only four out of top 10 manufacturers being global.

“China is the world’s second largest toy market and the world’s largest toy production base,” said Frédérique Tutt, global toys industry analyst at The NPD Group. “It’s a country that is primed for savvy international brands seeking opportunities in new markets. Even if the rate of growth slowed in 2020 due to the global pandemic, China over-performed other countries in the region and is already bouncing back.

“With the latest relaxation of the two-child policy and an ever-increasing middle-class population, we expect the Chinese toy market’s healthy growth to continue.”

According to NPD’s 2021 Chinese New Year Gift Study, Toys and Games were the holiday’s most requested gift categories for Chinese children. When making their holiday gift wish lists, 46 per cent of children requested toys that featured their favorite cartoons, television programs, and movies.

Social media had a significant impact on children’s wish lists as well with 45 per cent of children asking for toys they saw on short video platforms like TikTok and WeChat.

Chinese consumers spent an average of $91 on Chinese New Year gifts in 2021, a 39 per cent increase when compared to Q1 2020. Online shoppers spent an average of $12 more than consumers who purchased toys at brick and mortar stores.