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Steven Reece We are a leading Consultancy to kids entertainment brands including TV, toys & games. Our services include cutting edge qualitative consumer insight and consulting with entertainment brands to maximise their merchandising potential.

Toy Marketing Trends for 2012

Posted in Uncategorized on 16 December 2011

So as 2011 draws to a close, we can reflect back on the year, and analyse what has changed, and extrapolate this forward into 2012.

Here’s my musings and predictions for Toy Marketing Trends in 2012:

1. Social Media rampages on – this juggernaut of a communications revolution is not going away. if you think about how relatively new this phenomenon is, about how recently mass adoption came and about how little therefore human ingenuity has tested the technological limits of this media, 2012 will continue to surprise. If you are still one of those dinosaurs who thinks there is no clear or tangible benefit to utilising Social Media in your Toy and Game marketing campaigns, think again. Because 2012 will see the emergence of F-Commerce as a mainstream retail channel – that’s right, e-commerce sites built into Facebook are going to power up in 2012.

You can also expect to see a proliferation of all new apps which allow Toy Brands and Toy Companies to engage with their Consumers more powerfully and auotmatically, with more and more opportunities to direct that interaction towards online sales.

2. Mobile – mobile convergence has been coming for the last decade, and is finally here. A recent study I read showed that 44% of UK adults looked for Xmas gifts via mobile device, versus just 20% in 2010. Bearing in mind that smartphone penetration is going to accelerate over the next 5 years until nearly 90% of phones sold is a smartphone, and we can see this trend continuing into 2012 and beyond. If your website isn’t Mobile friendly, beware! For those targeting Tween consumers, where phone ownership is significant, the proportion of phones owned that are smartphones will be greater, therefore allowing even more of a direct path to the end consumer.

3.  Retail Revolution – one thing that is clear from the dreadful impact of the global financial crisis, is that retail is going to bear the brunt. Toy retail is not immune, although to a degree, research does show that Parents are not going to skip seasonal gifts for Kids under any circumstances, they do appear to be spending less per present/per child. And so, the retailers that will emerge from the economic downturn, maybe battered and bruised, but strong and alive, and ready to thrive in the boom that always follows bust, will be those who embrace change and capitalise on the opportunity new technology presents.

At the time of writing, Argos, that pantheon of the UK Toy industry, has just launched a service to allow consumers traveling via Train through London to reserve Christmas gifts by scanning QR codes on their phones. Also, if you want to see big Retail embracing innovation in a big way, check out this video featuring Tesco’s approach to the Korean market:


Not that I’m saying that these particular technological solutions are THE future, they aren’t, in fact I am dubious about the mass appeal of QR codes, they are just too clunky and unreliable in my experience and opinion, but the point is that by trialling these technologies and placing some bets on how you think the future will be, you get the chance to steal a lead on your competition.

4. Accessibility of new Technology – once upon a time to do any impactful Marketing, you had to hand over a huge cheque to some slick agency type, and watch them fritter it away on cab rides and over priced lunches! Nowadays, that isn’t the case, never before has Mass Market communication been more cost effective, and easier to use. For sure, you can still get creamed for £$€ on a bespoke app, but the basics are off the shelf. The key thing is to find a way to keep abreast of the opportunities.

So to help people filter out all the crap, and focus on what works,  in early 2012, I will be launching an information product “The 21st C. Toy Marketing Academy”, in which we will be showing people how to cover all the basics and do some whizzy stuff, all on a shoestring. So at last you can cut out the agency and do this stuff yourself, and return your hard earned money to the bottom line!

More on that in 2012…

For now, would love your feedback on my predictions, feel free to post a comment on the Blog or email me: steve.reece@ViciEntertainment.co.uk.

If you haven’t downloaded our free guide (on the right hand side of this page) on Toy Marketing Mistakes and how to avoid them, please feel free to do so!

All the best


Steve is an established toy expert, but like any self respecting toy industry expert he doesn’t like to go on about it!







Appy Christmas?

Posted in Uncategorized on 05 December 2011

There are 2 particular trends I’ve noted at UK Retail so far this Q4.

1. Happy anniversaries – this time last year the UK was virtually shutdown by severe weather, which nearly killed off some very big retail names who were relying on the last 6 weeks of trading to turnaround otherwise difficult years. The bad weather made December sales much worse than usual. So far in 2011, the anniversaries are actually looking good – at the time of writing John lewis just posted a sales increase year on year of nearly teens%. Maybe it won’t be such a bad end to the years trading after all…? Hope springs eternal.

2. Appy Christmas – one of the other major trends is clearly the continued growth and prevalence of Online Xmas shopping, and having started late, even the most backward looking retailers have now gone online…BUT how many have embraced M-commerce i.e. buying via smartphones? With the news that in the coming years your mobile phone will operate as a physical credit card, also comes news that total sales from mobile phones are now at 4%, up from 1% a year ago. And as luminary a figure as Home Retail Chief Exec Terry Duddy has stated that “As we go into Xmas, that trend is going to grow”.

So if you thought your work was done because you finally got that E-commerce site live, think again, by 2016, 90% of phones sold are expected to be smart phones, how will you and your business embrace m-commerce to take competitive advantage over slow moving competition?

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The cold winds bloweth!

Posted in Uncategorized on 25 November 2011

This is a tough time for anyone involved in shipping products to retail, not just Toys and Games, but any consumer durable. I can’t remember a tougher time out there…although I also can’t remember a time when you could ever say it was easy. As we enter the vital last few weeks before Christmas, the stakes on this short period of time seem to be higher than ever. It still seems unfathomable that we have lost some Toy and Game industry heavyweight retailers over the past few years i.e. Woolworths, Borders (UK), Zavvi etc. I’m just hoping Consumers turn up and spend big so we don’t have anymore heavyweight casualties in the foreseeable future. And who knows, it may be that the winds of change blow through 2012, and the broader economic situation looks up…

Steve Reece www.ViciEntertainment.com

Steve is an established toy industry expert




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