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Opinion – Evolution theory: Life after lockdown and the reasons to be cheerful

Now that we can plan for the challenges coming out of the pandemic, suggests Kids Brand Insights’ Steve Reece, there is no reason for 2021 not to be a successful year for the toy and licensing industries. The good news among all that is happening now is that humans adapt.

2020 has been an unusual year to put it mildly. The good news is that due to general awareness of Covid and mass change in human behaviour we seem unlikely to need to return to hard lockdowns on a national basis in the UK.

Regular visitors to Hong Kong and China had long found it peculiar how many people from that part of the world wandered around airports and even the streets wearing surgical masks. The fact we are now wearing masks across the board in the UK shows just how much our daily lives have changed.

“For 2021, things look set to remain challenging, but at least now we have time to adapt, and above all, consumer demand for toys has not reduced.”

The long term but slowly advancing trend towards working from home has clearly been massively accelerated, with a fair degree of long-term impact looking likely at this point. This has huge potential impact on the toy industry in good ways and bad, it makes it easier for those of us with families to manage our time and can save a fair degree of time on commuting. On the flip side it seems likely to reduce footfall in town and city centres across the UK which is likely to have an impact on shopping footfall for high street retail.

Additionally this is likely to accelerate the shift towards online shopping. Clearly some of that shift will be temporary as bricks and mortar stores are now open again, but human beings are creatures of habit, and so we have probably seen a permanent advancement of online market share coming out of this pandemic.

The most inspiring and reassuring outcome of the pandemic so far though is the resilience and adaptability of humankind. One of the reasons why humans have survived for so long is due to physical and psychological adaptation.

As such, we are learning how to go about everyday life in the current circumstances. When the virus hit it came as a major shock, but people and businesses adapt, and therein lies reasons for optimism.

We had no time to plan for changed circumstances, which meant we lost opportunities, we lost sales from licenses based on blockbuster movies which could not find open theatres to launch in, we lost the chance to visit our customers in their offices, to travel to vital trade shows like Distoy and to conduct face to face consumer research for our new products.

For 2021, things look set to remain challenging, but at least now we have time to adapt. Above all consumer demand for toys has not reduced, even if it has changed. There is no reason why we can’t see a successful 2021 for the toy business now that we can plan to meet the challenges coming out of the pandemic.

Steve Reece is the founder of the toy expert consultancy, Kids Brand Insight, leaders in supplying services to the toys and kids entertainment industries.

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