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Unhappy holidays for toymakers as TikTok, COVID-19 change success criteria


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Unhappy holidays for toymakers as TikTok, COVID-19 change success criteria

The dynamics of toy sales are changing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With face-to-face meetings between children at schools and home less prevalent, the use of social media, including TikTok, has become a more important route for the popularity of toy brands, CNBC reports. Small-scale toy manufacturers including ZURU and Imc Toys Sa have been able to rapidly build a following — and sales — as a result of social media virality.

Panjiva's U.S. seaborne import data shows both companies reached record levels of shipments in September, with imports linked to Zuru — maker of the 5 Surprise Brands range — climbed 15.3% year over year in September to reach a record 209 TEUs. Shipments linked to IMC Toys, maker of the VIP Pets range, meanwhile, jumped 14-fold to reach 38 TEUs.

The success for Zuru and IMC Toys has come against the backdrop of a slowdown in imports for the industry more broadly. Panjiva's data shows that total U.S. seaborne imports of toys dropped by 10.6% year over year in September, following a persistent decline since the 2019 third quarter. That may face a reallocation of spending toward virtual goods, particularly during the pandemic when traditional toy shops may have been closed.

The success of specific products may also be making a difference. Shipments linked to TOMY Co. Ltd. increased by 18.6% year over year in September, following a 37.4% jump in August. That followed a tougher second quarter, as discussed in Panjiva's research of Aug. 18. In the case of Mattel Inc. there has been a resurgence in shipments in September with a 9.9% increase, which may reflect success in its more aggressive push for sales of Barbie-themed toys. A 2.8% increase in imports linked to Spin Master Corp. after an extended decline may indicate its Fuggler range is gaining some traction.

At the other end of the scale a 25.4% drop in shipments linked to JAKKS Pacific Inc. may reflect a need to manage inventory while the company renegotiates the terms of its financing. Hasbro Inc.'s shipments fell by 24.1%, perhaps indicating previous concerns about its supply chain expressed in the prior earnings season have persisted. Finally, WowWee USA Inc.'s shipments declined by 17.4%, possibly indicating a poor performance from its new Baby Shark line.

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Christopher Rogers is a senior researcher at Panjiva, which is a business line of S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global Inc. This content does not constitute investment advice, and the views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Links are current at the time of publication. S&P Global Market Intelligence is not responsible if those links are unavailable later.