As big toy brands like Hasbro face increasing challenges in the market, social media is allowing more nimble players to shake things up.
Hasbro faced major losses in February, with investor sentiment slipping to 1.02 – down 0.08 from 1.1 in 2017 Q4.
50 investors sold Hasbro shares and 183 reduced their holdings. From February 2018, Hasbro had zero share purchases from employees (also known as insider buying) and 12 selling transactions worth $42.72 million.
Ferguson Wellman Capital Management sold over 125 thousand shares – reducing its stake in Hasbro by 40.34 per cent – while Goldner Brian offloaded over 300 thousand shares, worth nearly $30 million.
The slump in share prices may be indicative of the shifting toy tastes in the market. According to Live Mint, small, collectable figurines are trending in the industry – proven by the success of LOL Surprise and Hatchimals.
Social media and YouTube are also offering new ways for toy distributors and independent retailers to get in front of their target markets. Without having to spend large amounts on advertising, small businesses can somewhat level the playing field by directly communicating with consumers via socials. With Toy R Us closing, smaller, independent brands will have to rely on social media much more, as the shelf space in major retailers is often saved for definite sellers.
Despite big brands Mattel, Hasbro and Lego having their own YouTube channels, child YouTuber Ryan ToysReview far outstrips their subscriber numbers with over 13 million people subscribed to his channel. His influence on the industry is undeniable, with his 'Huge Eggs Surprise Toy Challenge' video – where he hunts for toys in an 'easter egg hunt' style, clocking in over 1.2 billion views – a number no amount of traditional advertising could ever reach.
Ryan posts a video every day, with his most recent video getting over 270 thousand views in under 12 hours – a number that will likely climb to over one million. The power lies in the genuine, relatable appeal that his home-video style, un-boxing videos have. Viewers watch a kid having fun with his family – it doesn't come across as an ad or disingenuous. Where the big three fall over is that it is hard for a huge corporation to appeal to consumers without talking down to them, trying to advertise to them or mask themselves as relatable.
The Live Mint article also suggests that there is less certainty with movie-tie ins and established brands and that the big three are ignoring growth markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
“The big toymakers need to become more adept at spotting trends and leveraging social media. They need to think about new growth generators,” Frederique Tutt, global toys industry analyst at NPD Group said to Live Mint.
Social media and YouTube will undoubtedly play a vital role in the launch of brands in new growth markets. To keep up to speed with Ryan ToyReviews and other influencers in the toy industry, both big and small brands must venture in to unexplored markets and support themselves with a strong, consistent, relatable YouTube and social media presence.