In the wake of the nationwide closure of Toys R Us stores, Bloomberg reports the toy industry is in general disarray. The 2017 holiday season yielded lower revenues than projected, in part because “kids are tiring of movie-linked playthings,” like the latest Star Wars and Transformers figures.
Sales are down at all three of the major toy companies: Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel. The block-maker had its first revenue decrease in 13 years, which led to laying off 8 percent of its work force last year. No. 2 Hasbro did experience growth in “full-year sales,” but the article notes there was a drop in the fourth quarter. But both Lego and Hasbro are still holding up better than Mattel, which is now ranked third after years at number one; its chief brands officer left the company in February, after four consecutive years of declining revenue. The article focuses on younger demographics, with no mention of adult collector-types, eager to get their hands on the new Lando Calrissian doll.
Without flagship stores like Toys R Us, they’re bound to keep taking hits. One consultant described Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel’s woes as “all self-inflicted,” because they’re not doing enough marketing on social media platforms: “Kids are wedded to their smartphones, wedded to social media, and the savvy marketers are using this to promote their products.” Mobile games are also encroaching on the old toy market worldwide, which has led Hasbro and Lego to go digital with their My Little Pony products and block sets, respectively. Some movie tie-ins are still proving successful for the toy companies; the success of Black Panther placed Hasbro’s related lineup in high demand. Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story are also on the horizon, and their related figures are also expected to sell well.
This discussion of a floundering business sector naturally includes a mention of millennials, but it’s not to blame them for destroying another industry. One toys and games analyst said “millennial parents, having a late-in-life child” could keep traditional toys afloat: “They may be more interested in educational toys [instead of mobile games]—or just want to share Star Wars with their kids.”