By Reyne Rice, Trend Analyst and Trend-Spotter/ Consultant, New York, New York. July 2013
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
Pop Culture, as a trend factor, influences many categories of goods, including toys and games. Some areas where Pop Culture plays a significant influencing role are Blockbuster in-theater movies, character licenses from TV entertainment or publishing, music & musicians, celebrities, fashion brands & icons, sports franchises, comic books, etc. Let’s review some of the latest new licenses and entertainment properties for second-half 2013 and as we approach 2014. Are you on-board?
In Theater Movie Entertainment is on the Upswing
Just-released statistics reveal that the blockbuster movie summer slate in 2013 boosted theater ticket sales through the beginning of July 2013, and is projected to increase the summer box-office dollars to over 18 percent this year, in North America (Source: Box Office MoJo). 2012 Summer movies captured 4.3 Billion US dollars. The 2013 summer box-office take is expected to surpass the best-ever US summer box-office record of .4 Billion US dollars, achieved in Summer 2011. This prediction was made even BEFORE Despicable Me 2 and Smurfs 2 hits the big screens! Internationally, many of the same movies are also creating Box office increases for global markets, so we may be in for a worldwide record breaking summer season at the movie theaters.
All of this can add up to licensed merchandise sales boosts at retail, too. Based on this wider exposure of Super Heroes, character favorites and other highly merchandisable licensed properties, we can expect entertainment and licensing retail sales to ring cash registers throughout 2013 and 2014. At least a portion of these BlockBuster franchises, offer relatively safe bets, in particular for evergreen character franchises such as IronMan 3 (Marvel/Disney) and Superman: Man of Steel (Warner Bros), and for anticipated movie sequels that were popular the first time around, such as Despicable Me 2 (NBC Universal), and Smurfs 2 (Sony Entertainment / IMPS).
In Annual 2012, Licensed Property merchandise tallied 112.1 billion US dollars in North American retail sales dollars. Character-related merchandise ( Entertainment, movie, TV and celebrity licensing) captured an estimated 49.3 billion in retail sales dollars, representing nearly 44% of all North American Licensing dollars at retail. (Source: LIMA: 2013 Licensing Industry Survey).
Here is a sampling of some of the latest 2013 summer movies, and a slate of some of the more merchandisable 2013 movies that haven’t yet hit theaters.
At the International Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, in mid-June 2013, the 2014 slate was revealed and is also quite robust, with these movies being slated for in-theater launches, with full entertainment and retail licensing programs, across multiple categories. This is not a complete list, but just a sampling:
Character Licensing grows by spanning generations
Character licensing franchises are also moving into new categories, and broadening their age group targets. Notable expansions include the Hasbro My Little Pony Equestria Girls range, being targeted to older girls and tweens, teens and young adults. The highly anticipated new launch of Disney Infinity, targeted for worldwide launch in August 2013, will span generations of Disney fans, younger, older and the avid D23 fanbase, with physical action figure characters and their rich hybrid gaming platform. Skylanders (Activision) will continue to appeal to the hybrid gamers, with their newest expansion, SkyLanders Swap-Force, slated for an October 2013 launch worldwide. Skylanders has also expanded its’ licensee list, selectively choosing categories and licensees across multiple territories worldwide.
TV entertainment properties, focusing on the retro and evergreen properties such as Super Heroes (DC Comics/ Warner Bros/ Mattel) and Marvel Super Heroes (Marvel/Disney/ Hasbro), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon/ Playmates), Power Rangers (Saban Entertainment/ Bandai), and Transformers (The Hub/ Hasbro) continue to show depth in their licensing programs. Other strong retro licensing programs include video-gaming character Sonic the HedgeHog (SEGA), publishing character Hello Kitty (Sanrio), and the TV animated series, The Simpsons (20th Century Fox).
Popular Characters on TV screens across the world:
Newer Disney brands such as Sofia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins continue to grow in popularity and their merchandising programs are expanding. Peppa the Pig (Entertainment One = eOne) continues to broaden across international territories and categories. Newer properties such as Tree Fu Tom (Fremantle Media), Tickety Toc (Zodiak Rights), Bubble Guppies (Nickelodeon), UmiZoomi (Nickelodeon, Mike the Knight (Hit Entertainment) and Canimals (Vooz) are gaining recognition and retail shelf space, as kids and parents seek out products for these popular character brands.
Keeping track of Pop Culture media influencers and the merchandised physical products that are associated with those Pop Culture icons is a way for manufacturers and retailers to find the licensed and entertainment properties that match their core consumer. Once that connection is identified, matching the Pop Culture icon with merchandise and licensing deals that appeal to your consumer is the next step. Balancing popular brands and licenses with a mix of basic traditional play patterns will ensure a more balanced selection of toys and games for your core customers. Cashing in on those Pop Culture influences at the retail store level is a learned skill, and over time, you will be able to select those licensed properties and entertainment brands that work best in your manufacturer product mixes, and with your core retail customers.
Later this month, we will also review, in a second post, Pop Culture Music and Sports Licensing, and a third post with news from the San Diego California ComiCon Convention: 2014 News for Collectors and Fans of Pop Culture , so stay tuned for more Pop Culture News and Llcensing insights.
by Reyne Rice 22. July 2013
For more Pop Culture news and an update on the blog post Pop Culture Appeals to an Avid and Targeted Fan Base: Are you on-trend?, see a second Pop Culture blog post focusing on Music and Sports Licensing, posted July 22nd, 2013. A third blog post, revealing Pop Culture Fan & Collector News for 2014, from the San Diego ComiCon Convention, will be posted at the end of the month.