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Kidults boost IP toy market


Licensed toys are a key growth category, drawing in high-end brands.


Toys have been linked to stories for many years and the intellectual property industry is using steadily more sophisticated measures to capitalise on this well-established trend.

At the Asian Toys & Games Forum, panelist Clifton Chiu, Senior Analyst of Toys and Games of Euromonitor International told the audience that licensed toys stimulate business growth for categories ranging from action figures, dolls and accessories to plush toys.

He also noted a rise in collaboration between high-end brands and popular toy and game franchises, including Pokemon’s partnerships with the Van Gogh Museum and Fendi.

The Forum was part of the HKTDC Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Toy makers were eager to digitalise traditional toys using blockchain, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. Competition with digital entertainment remain a big challenge for the industry, but traditional toys’ further integration with technology would bring opportunities, Mr Chiu said.

Heesuk Ricky Kang, Head of Business of, Naver Z also noted the move towards digital toy boxes, quoting studies that showed children and teenagers spent significantly more time in virtual worlds than with their friends.

More than 650 million users were active on Roblox, Naver Z’s Zepeto and other metaverse platforms, with Zepeto predominately used by players aged 13 to 21 and over 60% came from Asia. Toy companies should set up in metaverses to capture youngsters’ attention and stay relevant, Mr Kang suggested.

Clara Blasco, of the Technological Institute for Children's Products & Leisure (AIJU) said children's lifestyles evolved constantly. With cultural diversity and less defined gender roles, toymakers should look beyond stereotypes and actively seek information about their target groups.

An AIJU study sampling more than 3,500 children in Europe put them in seven social profiles – notable achievers, creative heroes, humorous champs, remote social lovers, green explorers, experimental makers and affectionate dreamers – each demonstrating different traits and preferences.

Results varied in the five countries analysed – Germany had the highest percentage of experimental makers who love doing crafts, while the UK had the most remote social lovers paying attention to social media.

Kidults would continue to play a major role in the toy market, especially in collectibles, premium limited-edition items, games riding on creative fantasies and table top games. Toy collection in this demographic has become increasingly mainstream and is no longer considered a geeky activity, Ms Blasco said.

Sustainability was a hot topic at the Toys Fair and Phoebe Lee, Global Head - Toys & Juvenile Products of SGS Hong Kong Limited, introduced the concept of sustainable toys and how toy companies can become green.

Common practices in the market included setting goals for increasing the use of bio-based materials, reducing plastic and phrasing out harmful substances. Stricter regulations in different jurisdictions, the development of alternate materials and a shift to circular economy would continue to drive the sustainability trend, she said.

Birkoff Chen, Sustainability Product Manager of Global Hardlines of SGS Hong Kong, said millennials were more eco-friendly and prioritised buying from companies that supported environmental protection. He advised companies against making unfounded and vague environmentally friendly claims and suggested they seek proper certification.

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