Littlest wonder

The most vibrant and important part of the toy market, pre-school products continue to be the central battleground for many manufacturers. NPD offers some data on how the sector is progressing?.
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The pre-school market, worth around £350m in 2007, has seen considerable growth in the last ten years with 25 per cent more products leaving the shelves.

Value sales increased even faster, driven by growth in the higher price points. Whereas ten years ago the consumer paid on average £8.69 for a pre-school item, nowadays it is closer to £11.25. The increased presence of pre-school electronic learning products, such as the V-Smile and the Leapster have without doubt played an important part in the price uplift, but higher price point products were launched in other categories, such as pre-school vehicles, as well.

Another reason for the average price increase in pre-school could very well be licenses. Licensed items are on average slightly more expensive than unlicensed ones and while in 1997 only a fifth of pre-school revenue was generated from licensed products, ten years later it is closer to a third. The UK pre-school arena is currently very competitive with numerous new licenses being introduced. Compared to other European countries the UK counts a wide variety of pre-school licenses all wanting a piece of the pie. Some of the more recently launched ones that have been successful include Dora the Explorer, Fifi and the Flowertots, Lazy Town, Peppa Pig and Roary the Racing Car amongst others.

For the year to date March 2008, the top seller in total pre-school is Character Option’s Peppa Pig Spaceship. When looking at the top 10 best sellers one can see that eight out of the ten items are licensed, which demonstrates once more that licenses are becoming more and more important for today’s pre-schoolers.

Vehicles and Figures and Playsets are currently the biggest areas in the pre-school market followed by Role Playing (Source: NPD EPoS Retail Tracking Service YTD March 2008). Key players in these particular categories include amongst others Mattel, RC2, Character Options, Smoby and Tomy. When looking at the total pre-school market, however, Mattel is without doubt the number one manufacturer for branded/licensed products, but when taking own labels into account as well ELC tops the chart. (source: NPD Consumer Panel 2007).

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