In only three years, Creative Toys Company has sold in excess of 11 million SoccerStarz collectable figures. we talk to head of marketing Andrew Welch about the team's ongoing winning streak.
How has 2015 been for Creative Toys?
Our brand SoccerStarz is now in its third year, and we are seeing sales continue to grow year-on-year. Creative Toys Company is a small team, where we not only develop the range and sell it at retail in the UK, but we also sell SoccerStarz across the globe, including China, Turkey, Dubai and the Middle East.
This season, we have over 300 SoccerStarz to collect. New for our 2016 edition single figure blister packs, we have a mini SoccerStarz Top Trumps card to add collectability.
We started working on this development with the Winning Moves UK team earlier this year, and so far it has proved to be a popular initiative among our customers.
Can you tell us about the success of SoccerStarz?
When SoccerStarz first launched, we managed to get some key retailers on board, but our range consisted of limited teams and players. We have grown our retailer listings and now the SoccerStarz range covers Premier League, European League and international sides.
We are also close to creating our 1,000th figure, and in that time we have managed to sell in excess of 11 million SoccerStarz.
We believe the target age range of SoccerStarz is very broad and appeals to both boys and girls. Football fans want to collect their favourite players and teams while some just simply want to collect the range because it is a cool collectable.
What partnerships have you secured this year?
One of the big success stories for SoccerStarz this year was a deal we struck with Carrefour Belgium. Carrefour approached us and out of that we produced an assortment of 24 players from the Belgian national team for their customers to collect.
In total, we sold 3.4 million SoccerStarz across all of Carrefour’s stores. The retailer also wanted us to create a SoccerStarz Belgian team app as part of the campaign and to link in with the SoccerStarz figures we produced. Each SoccerStarz player came with a code to unlock that SoccerStarz figure in a mini game SoccerStarz app.
We had never developed an app before, but turned this around. From this success, we have had a lot of queries from other markets on the SoccerStarz range.
What’s it like working with different clubs, and what challenges do you face with SoccerStarz?
We have good, strong relationships with all of the clubs we produce SoccerStarz for. Each figure goes through an approval process.
Many of the players are happy to see themselves as SoccerStarz. Most recently, Neymar posted a picture of his son on his Instagram page with his Barcelona and Brazil SoccerStarz we produced. Meanwhile, David Luiz, Juan Mata and Kevin Mirellas each posted a picture of their SoccerStarz on their Twitter page.
In terms of challenges, player transfers are tense, especially with last minute deals and the speed that a player can move.What does help us though is that we have a large library of SoccerStarz in the range, and we have processes with our factory to manage a player transfer efficiently, to get them out to market quickly.
What is the current health of the collectables market and how do you ensure SoccerStarz stand out?
Going back a few years, the collectables market was particularly competitive due to lower consumer spend. It is still competitive now, but SoccerStarz is an established range.
Football is the world’s number one sport and is consistently shown on TV. Couple this with the fact that we produce the latest top players and big signings ensures that SoccerStarz continues to be popular. It surprises us how much football knowledge children have and their appetite for the game never stops.
That said, marketing still takes work and last year we ran a four monthcampaign on CITV, which really drove strong brand awareness and increased sales. We have repeated this for 2015. Also last year, we produced the SoccerStarz van, which we have used to drive awareness of the SoccerStarz brand and give out promotional figures.
What has 2016 got in store for SoccerStarz?
SoccerStarz is set to have a strong 2016 with the Euros. SoccerStarz performed particularly well with our retailers during the last World Cup. Next year’s tournament is expected to be the most anticipated Euros tournament ever.
We are working with The FA and Panini on the England SoccerStarz range, which we will be rolling out before the tournament. We are now looking to develop more ranges within the next year. Stay tuned to the trade press as we will make announcements as soon as we are in a position to do so.