Toy Association Scouts Trends at Licensing Expo
May 24, 2022 | With Licensing Expo unfolding in Las Vegas this week, The Toy Association’s trends team is tracking some of the exciting new developments in entertainment and licensing, with many trends aligning with what’s expected to drive toy sales for the rest of 2022 and into next year.
Here’s what’s hot out of Licensing Expo:
Toys for Social & Environmental Good
Speaking about how businesses across every industry are not only going green but also looking at partnerships that highlight their commitment to eco-friendly operations, Licensing Expo put the topic front and center in its new sustainability business lounge featuring sustainability-focused educational programming and product showcases. In addition, partnerships unfolding on the show floor further emphasize how brands are catering to consumers that want to see more sustainable offerings, just as The Toy Association predicted in its 2022 trend, “Toys for Social & Environmental Good.” Two examples to watch in the toy space are WildBrain’s all-new Strawberry Shortcake series, Berry in the Big City, and Moonbug’s Lellobee City Farm, both of which tap into urban farming and sustainable living in different ways. Moose Toys is expected to launch a toy line based on Berry in the Big City later this year.
Jazwares and Uplift Games announced a multiyear global master toy licensing agreement for the game Adopt Me!, which has been popularized in the digital world of Roblox. With properties in these digital spaces — Roblox and Fortnight, in particular — continuing to gain traction with dedicated fans, consumers can expect to see more of these deals taking shape in the toy aisles in the year ahead. Another example is the continual collaboration between toy companies and social media influencers. A new game from Barry & Jason Games & Entertainment (known for such licensed games as Anchorman: The Game and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Historical Trivia Game), for example, is being shown at Licensing Expo and was created in collaboration with YouTuber Evan the Card Guy and the influencer management firm Wheelhouse DNA.
Keeping Up with the Kidults
A growing number of toy companies are looking to entertainment properties that can help them tap into the kidult consumer base. As The Toy Association has continued to discuss, opportunities to cater to this audience with toys and games rose during the pandemic as adults everywhere sought to escape through play. Today, the space offers toymakers a new avenue for business and growth. One example coming out of Licensing Expo highlighting this is a collaboration between PlayMonster and ViacomCBS for Criminal Minds Unknown Subject, an adult party game that also taps into the trend of games of social deduction (like Among Us) and the proliferation of crime-solving armchair detectives.
Building an Inclusive World
The importance of diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) is a topic that brands everywhere recognize is growing in importance to consumers as they want to see themselves reflected in the products they purchase, boost visibility for underrepresented groups, and support brands and causes that help build a more inclusive society. Today at Licensing Expo, Crayola unveiled Colors of Kindness, a new program and special edition crayon box designed to encourage kids to express kindness and empathy through creativity. Classic Crayola colors in the box have been renamed with inspirational phrases such as Go with the Flow (Color: Salmon) and Life is Gouda (Color: Macaroni & Cheese). Expect to see additional deals between toymakers and brands that include the kindness theme.
The Toy Association continues to track the evolution of these and other trends influencing the toy and play space. The Association’s 2022 trends report and other insights can be found at toyassociation.org/Trends.