The ToyNews Women of the Year Awards and networking event is now in its third year, celebrating the achievements of women within the toy industry.
This year sees the team add a roster of new categories to the slate of coveted awards alongside last year's popular Rising Star, Marketeer of the Year and Woman of the Year.
And in anticipation of the big unveiling of this year’s selection, ToyNews has caught up with last year’s Women of the Year Marketeer of the Year winner, MGA Entertainment's marketing manager, Marian Davis about how the last 12 months have been for both her and the business.
How has 2016 been for you so far, what have been the latest developments for you and for MGA?
We have had a really strong start to the year already for our iconic nurturing brands Baby Annabell and BABY born – the number one and number two doll brands in the UK.
Baby Annabell is up 31% this year to date and our BABY born brand is celebrating its 25th birthday this year with sales up 21% (NPD May).
This Autumn will also see exciting developments with Netflix original entertainment content for both Project Mc2 and Lalaloopsy, immersing consumers even further into these brands.
What have been some of the highlights for you over the last year?
Seeing the ongoing growth of both the Baby Annabell and BABY born brands is really exciting. They continue to be incredibly popular with young children as well as with millennial parents who remember playing with them themselves.
Developing further entertainment content for both Project Mc2 and Lalaloopsy will be a real focal point and highlight for us later this year.
What changes have you seen in the toy and licensing industry and how has it evolved over the last year?
One of the biggest changes I have seen in the toy and licensing industry is that entertainment content is now a key factor in building strong toy brands, a good example of this is the explosion of Star Wars toys now on the market.
According to NPD in May licensed toys accounted for 28% of total UK sales and grew by 13% so this demonstrates the power of licensing to drive growth. Licensing forms an integral part of brand building across our portfolio.
Specific development within the dolls sector has seen large dolls grow by 11% YTD with playset dolls and collectables becoming a standout segment. Our new collectable brand Num Noms which, launched at the end of March, has become one of the hottest new properties in the playground and continues to fly off shelves.
Can you talk us through your win last year, what did winning Marketeer of the Year mean to you?
Winning Marketeer of the Year was a great honour, especially when the votes came from my esteemed peers.
I have been in the toy industry for a long time and have had the privilege of launching and building some amazing brands, so it was fantastic to gain recognition for my achievements.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate women in business in this way?
We have some amazing female talent in the toy industry and we most definitely should be celebrating the contribution that women make to this sector.
What words of encouragement would you offer to this year’ finalists?
I think best words would be… Be passionate and believe in yourself - no one gives you power you have to take it.
What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year and what have you got planned in 2017?
I am really excited to be spearheading the marketing for such a great portfolio of brands. In 2017 we have some innovative new products and revolutionary new brands launching so it is a very exciting time for us at MGA HQ.