The 110th annual American International Toy Fair is one of the largest toy and youth product marketplaces in the world, bringing together more than 1,000 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents from around the globe. New technologies are combined with classical elements. Classic dolls like Barbie continue to add digital elements. But more than ever, almost every product has an app element.
Mattel showed off its Imaginext Fortress, with a bay for an iPad and Disney Princess Castle works interactively with the iPad.
“ There’s lots of connectivity with technology. We are amplifying play, we are connecting to apps,” said Mattel Senior Vice President Lisa McKnight.
New technologies are integrated in almost all new toys. But retro is also alive and kicking.
“Retro and classic is also another huge trend so you are seeing toys from my childhood and my parents, my grandparents’ childhood which is a great way to engage families in intergenerational play. So there is really something out there for everybody,” says Adrienne Appell of the Toy Industry Association.
Toymakers are expanding their marketing platforms as much as their product lines. They have found that sometimes social media and blogs work better than normal advertising.
“We are also using digital marketing more actively and we are finding that the best way to talk about your brand is to have brand advocates out there in the world. So when you look at a brand like “My Little Pony” for example we have this incredible base of consumers who are blogging about it, talking about it, and tweeting about it,” says Hasbro’s John Frascotti.
And reaching children and parents where they tweet, not just where they meet, could be the best connection of all.