Spielwarenmesse: Using successful licensing themes in the toy trade for lifestyle expression

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Simba Toys Lizenz Mascha und der Bär
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Movers & shakers

Using successful licensing themes in the toy trade for lifestyle expression

from Harald Hemmerlein

Lifestyle products are no niche phenomenon. That is why the Spielwarenmesse® offers a dedicated product group for them. And it is also clear from looking at the range of the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP, a major player in this area. COO Uwe Weiler explains how many aspects of the lifestyles of children and adults are also reflected in his company.


Spielwarenmesse®: Children start making statements about their own lifestyle at an astonishingly early age. Just like adults, they usually want to emphasise their individuality, while signalling at the same time their belonging to a particular peer group. Licensing themes are superbly suited to such lifestyle expressions. What can the Simba Dickie Group offer girls and boys in this context – even apart from the world of licensing?

Uwe Weiler, CEO Simba Dickie

Uwe Weiler: We use many licences across the diverse Simba Dickie Group range. The product designs are always up to date, offering trends and lifestyle themes that reflect real life. These include role play products such as the new Smoby Coffee House and true-to-style BIG scooter and the Steffi Love dress-up dolls. Wearing the latest fashion looks, these dolls also come with trendy accessories for the girls who play with them.

For adult target groups, we offer flamingo motifs from Schipper Arts & Crafts for hobby artists as well as a fresh Pop Art edition of the iconic Studio 1 car from Schuco for retro fans. And how better to demonstrate being part of a particular bunch of friends and foster communication within the group than through collectible toys? Take, for example, the Chi LOVE fashion pups or the new stylish #myZoe doll from Simba Toys. As a constant companion, she is always ready to be staged and snapped. Fans share their best pics with friends via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

Automotive dreams come true with the captivating models from Dickie Toys and Majorette. The first flagship store, only just opened in Europa Park in March, caters for the personalisation trend. Under the motto “build your car”, fans can use a configuration tool with touchscreen to put together their model car and then have it built.

Simba Toys Evi Love
Lighting up children's eyes: dress-up doll Evi Love from Simba Toys
Mercedes SLS by Dickie Toys
Dream car for kids: Mercedes SLS as a miniature version from Dickie Toys

Toys and creative offerings based on particular lifestyle themes must fit with the preferred lifestyle of the buyers – the adults, in other words. I imagine there are a lot of comparisons with the fashion world in this respect. Or am I wide of the mark?

U. W.: In general, toy product life cycles are much longer than those of the fashion industry. Adult buyers often subconsciously reference their own lifestyle when choosing a toy. If they like driving fast cars or have an eye for the luxury end of the market, they tend to go for sports car brands when it comes to toy models. As we are quite diversified with Majorette and Schuco, these buyers are as well catered for as retro enthusiasts.

Children like to play at being adults, and the more realistic, the better. Our Smoby kitchens come with lots of mod cons. For example, every aspiring young chef of today needs a capsule coffee maker so they can have their coffee to go. The Smoby workbench allows children to safely build and construct. Toys are marketed with Tefal or Black & Decker licences to match the adult versions.

Children know exactly what they want from an early stage and often greatly influence the purchase decision. They are not always looking to simply emulate the lifestyles of the adults in their lives, however, and toys with a fantasy theme are just as important for role play. Ultimately, a product must match the child’s interests but also tick the right boxes for the adult actually making the purchase in terms of play value, look and price.

When I visualise how many toy retailers run their business, I get the impression that some retailers use the shop design itself to appeal to customers’ lifestyles. I’m thinking here in particular of the typical Holzwurm stores or the pink doll corners of major retailers. Am I right in thinking this and is it a good vertical marketing approach?

U. W.: An engaging shop design with attractive product presentation is essential to offering customers a shopping experience, which then helps the store compete against online retailers.

Toy manufacturers have marketing specialists who develop strategies to help retailers sell their products. They want their brands and goods positioned where they will be easily noticed. They also want to reach the customer at an emotional level and make the quality and value of their own products the focus.

Shop concepts developed in close collaboration with the retail partners involved are the best vertical marketing solution. There are shop design concepts which are adapted to the children’s lifestyle according to the respective products and even presentations which appeal very specifically to children.


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Author of this article:

Harald Hemmerlein

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