UK Licensing Trends in 2022

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By John Baulch.

2022 will become a massive year for movie merchandise 

Thankfully, 2022’s movie slate couldn’t provide more of a contrast – virtually everyone is predicting a massive year for movie merchandise, and with the latest Batman, Jurassic World, Minions, Fantastic Beasts, Sing and Sonic movies, together with new blockbusters such as Lightyear and DC League of Superpets, it would be a brave person who would bet against a major resurgence in sales of movie ranges this year. 

However, retailers will also have some big decisions to take; there will be periods of 2022 when a major new movie will be released every few weeks. It is nigh on impossible to move brand new ranges in and out every two or three weeks at retail, so buyers will need to prioritise the releases they feel will perform best for their customer base.

Soccer World Cup’s impact on Christmas sales

This year’s crop of summer films won’t even have a major football tournament to compete with, due to the World Cup moving to a new November and December time slot as a result of being held in Qatar. With football remaining a rich source of licensing potential, especially in the collectible sticker and outdoor toys sectors, it will certainly be interesting to see what effect the new World Cup timing has on sales in the run up to Christmas. 

Strong performance of Pre-School brands 

Away from the movie and football genres, there is plenty more evidence to suggest that 2022 will be another strong year for licensing in the toy arena. The Pre-School space hasn’t been this competitive in years: both Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig continue to deliver strong performances, resonating with each new generation of children that comes through. In addition, last year saw the emergence of some key new Pre-School brands to challenge their dominance in the form of Moonbug’s CoCoMelon and BBC’s Bluey – both brands have made major inroads into the Pre-School aisles. 

Pre-School exemplifies another licensing-related success story of the pandemic era; namely the fact that more content is being consumed than ever before, and how there are now many more routes to success beyond the scope of traditional terrestrial TV. Digital content, especially on platforms like YouTube, now draws immense viewing numbers, and with brands like CoComelon proving the link between success of YouTube and success in-store, more properties are bound to break out from that realm to enjoy commercial success. 

Characters that appeal to older kids and kidults 

Licensing clearly has a major influence on sales in the Infant and Pre-School category, but equally the same is true at the upper age levels: Pokémon has been an enduring success and while it’s 25th anniversary year propelled the brand to even greater heights in 2021, there is nothing to suggest that momentum won’t continue this year. It is not the only brand from the trading card world that appeals to an older toy-buying demographic; Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh has been enjoying a healthy resurgence in recent years, and with Character Options now signed up as master toy partner for the UK market. The brand is fully expected to grow its presence in the toy market in 2022.

Computer games will also continue to provide a rich seam of opportunity for toy companies to mine; classics like Super Mario, Minecraft and Roblox have been joined by the likes of Among Us and Gang Beasts to offer toy retailers the chance to attract older kids and kidults into their stores.

And, of course, toy brands themselves remain a crucial component of licensing in the kids’ space: Barbie enjoyed a stellar year in 2021, while My Little Pony, Transformers, L.O.L. Surprise! and many other toy brands offer ample scope for other licensees to join the party. One of 2021’s hottest toys, Moose Toys’ Magic Mixies, is about to launch a licensing programme, while the collaboration between Character Options and Moose for Heroes of Goo-Jit-Zu is following the same path. IMC Toys is also taking Cry Babies Magic Tears into the licensing realm, and we’ll see many more toy brands extend their reach in this way. 

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Toy World

The trade magazine Toy World is the Licensing media partner of the Spielwarenmesse and expert for the UK licensing market.

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