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TOYS & GAMES

Mattel, Hasbro see Q3 Retail Sales Split Along Gender Lines

By Karina Masolova

Reported third quarter (3Q) sales from toy giants Hasbro and Mattel exhibited an interesting break along gender lines, with boys’ toys outperforming girls’ amidst depressed worldwide sales thanks to unfavorable exchange rates. More gender balance may be on the way, however,  with the girls’ market expected to get a boost from the first interactive Barbie doll and a squadron of female superhero properties landing on retail shelves next year.

Hasbro’s 3Q boy’s sales increased 24% to $593.1 million thanks to Star Wars, Nerf and Jurassic World, while sales of girl’s toys decreased to $407.7 million (-28%) with lowered sales from Furby and My Little Pony offset partially by Disney’s Descendants. Mattel similarly reported a 4% dip for its Barbie brand to $302.0 million in Q3 and 20% fall in sales for other girl’s brands to $320.4 million in constant currency, while sales for the traditionally boy-skewing wheels category (including Hot Wheels and Matchbox) jumped to $266.9 (6%) .

However, these low figures aren’t expected to hold for long. At BLE, Frederique Tutt, Global Toy Industry Analyst for The NPD Group announced that 2014 toy sales figures across all major markets were up, and expected to increase a further 2.7% this year to bring 2015 sales to a record $13.8 billion. The increase was largely thanks to licensed brands including Frozen (worth twice as much as the next largest property LEGO Ninjago), Playmobil and Star Wars. U.S. sales increased 7%, with the largest growth seen in Mexico (19%). The only market that experienced a decline was France (-2%).

Supercharging the Girls’ Market

The girl’s market is expected to see a boost next year from Mattel’s Hello Barbie, the first interactive Barbie doll (down 6% year-to-date through Q3; the brand’s rebound is propped up by adorably inspiring ad campaign). In addition, the U.S. will see at least four high profile  female-focused superhero properties by 2017. Tutt attributed worldwide growth in toy sales in part to superhero brands, particularly from Marvel.

  • Warner Bros.’ “DC Super Hero Girls” will launch this fall with global master partners Mattel (toy), The LEGO Group (construction sets), Random House Children’s Books (publishing) and Rubie’s Costume (costumes) already on board. Digital content and TV specials are first to come, while publishing, toys, apparel and other products will begin to roll out in 2016. Developed for girls aged 6–12, the franchise stars the youthful versions of female superheroes and villainesses from the DC Comics universe.
  • Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir” is an original 3D CG-animated action-sitcom from  Zag Animation Studios premiering this fall. Global master toy licensee Bandai is joined by Rubie’s Costume (costumes, accessories), Accessory Innovations (bags, backpacks, luggage, accessories),  H.E.R. Accessories (jewelry, hair accessories), Franco Manufacturing (bedding,  bath), Komar (children’s pajamas, sleepwear, robes) and Handcraft Manufacturing (children’s underwear).
  • Cartoon Network’s 2016 relaunch of “The Powerpuff Girls” will be anchored by master toy partner Spin Master (including plush, figures, playsets and dolls) with products hitting retail fall 2016. In North America, partners include Penguin Books (publishing) and Disguise (costumes, dress-up toys, accessories).
  • Nelvana Enterprises and The Topps Co.’s “Mysticons” will launch 2017 with Playmates Toys acting as the global master toy partner. Targeted for girls aged 6-plus, the animated series tells the epic tale of four girls from different walks of life who transform into legendary warriors in their quest to find a magic tome and save the world.

Blurred Lines

While manufacturers don’t seem to be departing from the concept of gendered toys, these distinctions are slowly being dismantled in retail aisles. Target announced this August that it was eliminating store-wide labeling of toys as boy’s or girl’s. While Toys ‘R’ Us did the same in the U.K. two years ago, following other regional retailers, the toy giant has yet to make any moves in the U.S.

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