The popularity of characters and heroes from popular films/TV-series helped drive double-digit value growth in construction, action figures & accessories and plush toys. Alongside the boost from licensing, the growing popularity of products from established brands also contributed to additional growth of toy sales in France. French householders are willing to spend slightly more on quality and reputable products than on private label.
Current market trends
Demand is expected to remain strong as French households consider toys and games as essential for the wellbeing and proper development of their children, as well as for socialising/sharing moments with friends and relatives. On the supply side, manufacturers are also set to remain active in developing and innovating new products which are likely to appeal to consumers.
On the whole, French toy consumers preferred branded and licensed products in 2015. Licenced products recorded 15% retail value growth, primarily driven by blockbuster films, notably Star Wars, Minions, and Frozen, as well as TV series (Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig and Pokémon).
The flourishing video games category did not cannibalise demand for traditional toys in 2015. Even though children are spending relatively more time playing video games, they continue to ask for and be offered traditional toys. In addition, peer pressure also called for children to own products from both categories, irrespective of the time spent playing.
The European and French legislative frameworks for traditional toys are likely to adopt new rules in order to reduce and/or ban the presence of Bisphenol A in products over 2016-2017. On the other hand, issues pertaining to personal data protection, especially in regards to connected toys, are also likely to kindle debates and result in legislative action.
Made in France identity v multinational companies
Multinational companies characterise the traditional toys category in France. Among the top twenty players, the only significant locally-based company is Asmodee Group. However, smaller locally-based companies with at most 1% of value sales, such as Juratoys, Vulli, Jouets Ecoiffier and TF1 Games, were able to leverage their Made in France identity, innovations and promotions to grow.
Manufacturers are generally moving away from low and pocket money products to focus on developing products at the upper price points. Players observed that the average unit prices of traditional toys and games increases.
Toy manufacturers are very active in advertising & promoting toys
Mattel, Hasbro and Vtech are the top-three investors in conventional media advertisements (TV, radio, outdoor, press and cinema). LEGO was very active with digital as well as television advertising to support key launches such as the diverse new Star Wars polybags, Lego Ideas and other seasonal novelties.
On the other hand, leading French player Asmodee Group opted for direct-to-customer marketing strategies by touring beaches and music festivals during the summer season. The company also began a collaboration test on some railway lines with the French national railway company (SNCF) by providing free games and puzzles to passengers wishing to play during their trips.
Licensing trends for toys
The two most important licences in 2015 were Frozen and Star Wars. The former generated 3% of total sales value in traditional toys and games, while the latter witnessed related sales more than double year-on-year. Emerging licences which performed well were Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lilo & Stitch and Minions.
Upcoming 2016 movie releases (Batman vs Superman, Monster High Trolls, Kung Fu Panda 3, Angry Birds The Movie, Ice Age, Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rogue One) are also set to consolidate and generate licencing values while superseding older ones.
Some recent popular local characters which have good potential for licenced toys are Les Gardiens de la Lune and Phanthom Boy. These animated films produced locally and released in 2015 have a low proportion of licenced toys and games in France.
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