Mindfulness, storytelling and leading kids’ IP: The rise of children’s audio platform Yoto

The children’s audio platform, Yoto has made short work of its UK success. In just the eight months since its launch in February this year, the company has cited an ‘astonishingly rapid rise in sales’ through its own website and across Amazon, fueled by a lean towards new means for entertainment and platforms for learning, reading, and mindfulness, triggered by the UK’s lockdown.

Having enjoyed an ‘incredible year’ so far, despite the hurdles that has been thrown at the toy market over the course of 2020, Yoto is riding high as it heads into the year’s holiday season, having found shelf space with retailers such as WHSmith for that all-important Christmas shopping period.

Not only that, the children’s storytelling and language learning box has been building up a library of content, enriched by some of the leading children’s stories IP from Roald Dahl and Julia Donaldson, as well as a wealth of new content that taps into the current trend for mindfulness among children, heightened, according to the firm’s CEO, Ben Drury, by the anxieties derived from the global pandemic.

ToyNews catches up with Drury to learn more about the platform, its ongoing plans for licensing partnerships, and the important work it is doing addressing the issues around children’s mental wellness and mindfulness.

Hi Ben and thank you for joining us. Could you kick off by talking to us about Yoto? What is it and what is it you guys are bringing to the toy space?

Yoto is an audio platform designed for kids aged 0 to 12 years old and upwards. We believe in putting kids in control and that audio time is better for inspiring creativity and imagination than screen time. Our vision for kids audio is very broad – from the best stories and music to science podcasts, educational games and kids radio from around the world.

How did the concept come to being? It’s a great way of bringing storytelling and audio to children, what is your background in this space?

I founded a company called 7digital in 2004 and we were a digital music platform working closely with companies like Samsung, HP and BlackBerry. After that company floated in 2014, my co-founder, Filip, and I both had children and really wanted to give our kids safe access to music and audiobooks but without screens and with kids physically in control of the experience.

You guys have got a great library of audio cards and some very strong licenses already in place. What plans have you got to develop the licensed offering? Is this a key market for you?

Definitely. We have some very strong global licenses in the works and we’re always on the look-out for more – either with existing audio content or partnerships to develop new audio from scratch.

The mindfulness audio card and the Barnardo’s partnership seems to be tapping into a growing awareness of mindfulness for children. Why is this an important area to be developing in? What was the inspiration for your involvement in children’s mindfulness?

We realised early on that parents were using Yoto to help with sleep training and calming their children and this became especially important during lockdown when tempers were fraying for all of us! I think especially during these tough times we all need to focus on our mental health and audio is a great way to help children to escape and use their imagination in a way that screen-based content cannot.

What has consumer and retailer reaction been like to Yoto so far? How has business been for you guys over the course of this year?

It’s been an incredible year since we launched the Yoto Player in February. We’ve seen an astonishingly rapid rise in sales from our website and Amazon and we’re super excited to be working with major retailers like WHSmith into the holiday season.

Parents and families seem to love Yoto and the diversity of content we have on offer from the free Yoto Daily micro podcast to the wonderful stories of Roald Dahl and Julia Donaldson, the Phonics series we just launched and the sleep stories and mindfulness cards.

So why is now the right time to be working with Yoto?

We’re growing super-fast and we’re reaching families all over the UK, US and beyond and we offer a product and platform that is unrivalled in the market. And we’re great to work with!

What’s the next step for you guys for 2020 and moving into next year?

We have an amazing content and accessories line-up for Christmas 2020 as well as major feature updates that are free to all our customers. And into 2021 we’ll have broad retail coverage in all our key markets and some really big new content releases. No rest for our team!

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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