Rob Corney of Bulldog Licensing examines how far convergence is affecting the toy industry.
Convergence, the coming together of content across multiple platforms, has been a major focus for the media industry since the advent of more interactive platforms and the return pathway of
the digital signal. But the impact of the coming together of different outlets is seen more starkly within the licensing world than in most other areas.
It’s still true today that great content, generally coupled with Hollywood budgets for retail support,
can unilaterally drive a merchandising programme. However, the scale of reach achievable in today’s world means that times have changed and even a quick glance across the top brands in today’s market shows that those properties achieving universal touchpoints, are the ones which are truly achieving cut through and sustainable scale at retail.
In an age where kids and adults are having their attention drawn away from traditional media channels by the second screen; and in a year in which the box office is showing its worst performance for a decade, those brands which are able to reach their audience through multiple channels will become the ones to achieve cut through among the high levels of background noise.
It’s no wonder then that we are seeing powerful new voices emerge from traditional channels such as toy and publishing, which have developed a scalable opportunity for themselves by diversifying into new areas of content.
Content can unilaterally drive a merchandising programme.
Shopkins is the market’s best example of the success that can be brought by developing a concept as a universe of content, soaring to the top of sales charts across multiple categories around the world.
Developing a toy line with a compelling concept and appealing characters, the brand is further supported through popular webisodes and music video content. Overlaying more than a billion online views, the property proves itself further with DVD releases of film content, as well as continuing to diversify the physical lines, maintaining innovation and freshness through regular releases of toy lines and licensed ranges.
Convergence provides, in one breath, a huge threat to the traditional media approach which seeks a huge presence in a single channel; but simultaneously, a huge opportunity for brands seeking a unified approach across multiple platforms.
Traditionally ‘static’ channels such as toy are now able to bring depth to their characterisation, breathe life into their creations, reach huge audiences quickly and, as we are seeing, have become classic poacher turned gamekeeper in a licensing model, which is now seeing toy companies as both licensee and licensor.