The last 12 months have seen Vivid Toy Group enjoy something of a purple patch. And it’s probably even better than that. Sales have soared by almost 30 per cent, with domestic UK and international success both contributing to the company’s best ever results.
While it would be easy to lay most of the praise for this firmly at Moshi Monsters’ door, while it is clearly a breakout brand for the company, Vivid has also enjoyed success with Animagic, Crayola and its burgeoning pop star doll portfolio – all delivering double digit growth figures.
But let’s focus on Moshi Monsters first. Vivid’s UK MD, Neil Bandtock, attributes the success to three key factors: “Firstly, the Moshi website traffic numbers are staggering; one in two British kids have played Moshi Monsters online. Secondly, the brand appeals equally to girls and boys, a phenomenon that most of us have never seen before in our toy industry careers. Thirdly, the price point is magical and fits perfectly in an era where kids and parents are looking for great value and lower cash outlays.
“The result for retailers is a brand that is ‘footfall nirvana’, with collectors coming back to the store over and over again, often several times a week.”
Vivid is anticipating that its Moshi Monsters toy line will achieve retail sales in excess of £75 million this year in the UK and Ireland. Two key Moshling play-sets are due to launch in August, along with the eagerly awaited Moshi App Monsters. On top of this, the programme is now rolling out internationally, with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa all experiencing similar sales uplifts to the UK.
Vivid is planning a new rollout strategy from two series to three for 2013, giving retailers an additional promotional platform. Bandtock explains: “The uplift in sales for series three at Easter was triple digit for several weeks and we believe we can deliver that volume boost for three key launch periods from now on. Series four Moshlings launch on August 25th to drive the back to school ‘collecting and swapping’ playground behaviour pattern that’s so central to the success of the brand.”
The Animagic property is also enjoying double-digit growth. Key products such as Fluffy Goes Walkies, Cassie Goes Catwalk and Tessie Goes Trotting are all performing well, with Glamour Pets set to be a major TV line for Christmas. Vivid is expecting Animagic sales worldwide of over £45 million at retail this year, with sales in the US also strong.
Novelty plush has also proved to be a very strong category recently, with Flufflings performing well last Christmas, a range which is now joined by boy-targeted Smasha-Ballz.
“Finding niches has always been a key strength for us and these two brands have rolled out internationally with great success, again furthering our credentials as a serious emergent global player rather than just a European one,” states Nick Austin, Vivid’s chairman and co-founder.
“The growth of our international business in the past three years from ten per cent of sales to 38 per cent has been the big strategic shift for Vivid.
“Our product development engine really needs a global base for the future if we are to continue to grow, compete and beat the big guys. We are getting far more attention from the global licensing community now.”
Christmas will see the launch of the first in a brace of The Hobbit movies, for which Vivid has the worldwide master toy rights, in partnership with US firm The Bridge Direct.
2012 also sees the biggest line-up in Vivid’s history for its pop star dolls, fronted this Christmas by the launch of Little Mix dolls, games and accessories. One Direction, The Wanted and JLS also continue to be in high demand.
And, to top it all off, Crayola sales have more than doubled over the past six years, giving the brand its highest ever share of the arts and craft market.
Austin continues: “In such challenging conditions it is vital to keep up investment levels in product development and marketing, even if it’s at the cost of reduced operating margins. Vivid started 20 years ago in the recession of 1992, so we’re of the view economic conditions really don’t matter too much if you’ve got the stuff kids want and, thankfully, at present we’re doing just that.
“Here’s to another 20 years, but I can categorically confirm that I will not be at the helm in 2032.”