Itís been a good summer for Hasbro, with the success of first Thor, then Transformers and Captain America at the box office helping to boost toy sales. Samantha Loveday speaks to Foye Pascoe, Country Manager, UK & Ireland, to get the lowdown on 2011 so far...
How has the UK market performed so far this year? Are we in better shape than this time last year?
Hasbro UK has experienced a 14 per cent growth (UK NPD EPOS YTD June 2011). This is due to the strong performance of the recent Transformers movie, and a number of our key brands including Play-Doh, Furreal Friends and Nerf and our key licensed properties within the boy’s category.
What is the mood like at retail now? Better or worse than last year? Is it an improving picture?
As always, Hasbro remains focused on delivering immersive brand experiences that consumers can enjoy anytime, anywhere. Economic conditions will always fluctuate, but we remain fortunate in having an incredible brand portfolio that provides strong value and can be enjoyed by all members of the family.
How much more important is online retail for you now?
Online continues to grow as an ever-increasingly important aspect of both retailing and marketing communications. We believe we will continue to be at the forefront in supporting all of our retail partners that we service.
What lines have performed well for you so far this year?
We are proud that we have experienced good performance across the full range of our toys and games.
Not only are some key films helping deliver the Transformers and Marvel toy lines, but we are also seeing growth of our classic brands such as Play-Doh, Furreal Friends, Nerf and Supersoaker.
Are there any sectors in particular which have stood out? Boys must have been boosted by the new Transformers lines, for example?
The boys segment has undoubtedly been boosted by a number of key films; Transformers Dark of the Moon has had a positive impact on the Transformers retail presence. Our alliance with Marvel has delivered strong product lines both for Captain America and Thor this year. Star Wars has had a good year and was the number one property in action figures UK (NPD EPOS YTD June 2011).
Tell us a bit more about your plans for Sesame Street. How important will the licence be for you?
When are the first toy lines hitting the UK?
Sesame Street is a great addition to the Playskool portfolio. The brand has years of heritage. Milkshake Sesame Street programming on Channel 5 continues to be a firm favourite with pre-school children and mums in the UK.
We have some big plans for the launch of Let’s Rock Elmo this autumn including a range of launch activities in-store, press and on TV. Stay tuned for some big activity.
We will also be working with Sesame Workshop to bring Kevin Clash (who is the voice and puppeteer of Elmo) over to the UK where he will be dropping into a number of broadcasters with Elmo. Tune in during September for a week of coverage.
What else can we expect to see in the remainder of 2011 from you?
Following on from a highly publicised Jedward launch of our latest Furreal Friends, watch out for the Nerf Vortex launch. Bop It! XT will feature a whole new routine from Britain’s Got Talent runner up Stephen Hall and in September we will be launching our highly anticipated Elmo. My Little Pony is also back with a consumer on-pack offer to win a dream holiday in Lapland and great new programming on Boomerang.
Finally, KRE-O our new construction system, hits the shelves in September.
Are you happy with your portfolio mix? Are there sectors that you’d still like to move into/out of, etc? How much is made up of licences?
Hasbro is a full service provider of games and toys to the UK covering leading games, pre-school, boys and girls brands and already covers a very wide range of segments. Our great relationships with some of the industry leaders in licences has enabled us to deliver a strong licence segment covering pre-school, games and boys toys.
There’s been a lot of talk about the toy industry and packaging recently. How is Hasbro tackling the environmental issues surrounding toy packaging? Is it a major concern for you?
Long before the recent publicity pertaining to deforestation, Hasbro had been actively working with its paper packaging suppliers toward our goal of responsible sourcing from recognised, independent certifying bodies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
These ongoing efforts support our 2010 announcement of a sustainable packaging initiative, when we set a goal that at least 75 per cent of paper packaging will be derived from recycled material or sources that practice sustainable forest management. By 2015, Hasbro has set a goal of 90 per cent usage of these materials and sources for all of its paperboard packaging and in-box content.
In addition, Hasbro has pledged to eliminate all wire ties from packaging beginning this year. Hasbro has instructed its paper suppliers to ensure that APP-sourced paper is not used in Hasbro packaging.
How important are the likes of mummy/daddy bloggers and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to Hasbro? Have you/are you planning to include them in your marketing? Is TV still king in your marketing mix?
Hasbro has strong relationships with bloggers, who deliver honest comments and have a powerful voice with mums and consumers alike. They are an important part of the overall communications mix and we engage with them on a range of products and issues. They regularly comment on our Hasbro UK Facebook page and input into our brand campaigns.
TV will continue to have its place in the overall mix as a vehicle for delivering high impact messages to large audiences in a short space of time.
Finally, any hot tips from your 2012 product line to watch out for?
2012 will be another great year for action films for which we have a range of boys’ toys and games.
Star Wars re-mastered Episode One will hit cinemas in February. Battleship will preview in May, followed by the much-publicised Avengers film from Marvel later in the month.
The Amazing Spider-man will launch in July. Transformers will continue to connect with boys through Transformers Prime programming on Cartoon Network.
Within our girl’s portfolio, My Little Pony programming is currently on air on Boomerang and connecting with a whole new generation of girls.