Bulldog's Vicky Hill on why Shopkins is such a strong opportunity for retailers

Samantha Loveday

By Samantha Loveday

April 20th 2015 at 10:17AM
Bulldog's Vicky Hill on why Shopkins is such a strong opportunity for retailers

How the success of the core toy line is encouraging licensees to get on board with collectable brand.

Can you tell me the history behind the brand?

Shopkins are the super cute, fun, small characters that live in a BIG shopping world. A collectable brand from Moose Toys targeting girls 4-9, Shopkins introduces children to the world of shopping through play-sets and collectable characters. A new series featuring 148+ new characters will be released every six months.

How did the brand perform over the past 12 months?

Shopkins was launched in July 2014, and was an instant hit in the UK - product sold through in a matter of weeks and had to be air freighted in to keep it on shelf. The collectables and play-sets have picked up a number of awards including Tesco's Best New Product to Market 2014, BTHA's Collectable Toy of the Year and the Girl's Category Toy of the Year at the Toy Awards in New York in February. Series 2 launched in January with very substantial retail support across the board. The craze around Shopkins is certainly building - individual Shopkins are selling in excess of £1,600 on eBay, and we are hearing reports of mums fighting over them in  the aisles.

How many licensees does it have to date (in the UK and worldwide) and in which categories?

The number of partners we are working with on Shopkins is rising every week. We launched at BLE to a great reaction, and by Christmas had ten partners on board. Excitement around the brand continues to build, and over this year's trade show season we have seen huge demand for the property. We now have 15 confirmed partners, with more in negotiations at the moment. Our list so far covers publishing, annuals, magazines, plush, arts and crafts, stationery, games, puzzles, homewares, apparel, nightwear and underwear. The programme is also particularly strong in the US, Canada and Australia.

What are some of the best performing products?

The only licensed product launched to date are posters from Pyramid, but this will change in the next few weeks with a collectors guide, activity annual, the first issue of the monthly magazine, Top Trumps and apparel all hitting the market. Our magazine partner is already seeing a huge amount of interest from fans throughout the UK responding to a pre-launch competition and we are speaking directly to major retailers throughout the UK about in-store activations across a number of categories.

Are you looking to expand the consumer products programme further this year – for example into new categories or territories?

Absolutely – by the end of 2015 we expect to have partners signed up for all key categories, and are always keen to hear from companies interested in working with us on Shopkins.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2015?

Flair will be supporting with a heavyweight marketing campaign throughout 2015 as they did so successfully for the 2014 launch. We are currently working with licensees on retail activation and cross-category activity with a lot of discussions underway for activations such as windows, fixtures and prize mechanics to support retail sales.

What has the retail reaction been like to the brand?

Retailers are really excited about Shopkins. Sales of the core toy are so strong they cannot wait to get their hands on licensed product, and we are in discussions for retail marketing activity. The brand is perfectly suited to its target market of girls aged four to nine, and with the core lines topping the sales charts and a considerable amount of white space in the market around this demographic right now, the opportunity for retailers could not be stronger.

What are some of the main challenges you've come up against? And how have you overcome them?

The main challenge would be getting product to market to meet demand. We know that since last BTS period both consumers and buyers have been crying out for merchandise, and we are keen to get product to market to meet this as soon as possible. The Shopkins licensees and approval teams have done a fantastic job of developing and selling in product in record time and we are extremely happy to have five partners launching by the end of Q1, when conversations only began in mid-October.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand in 2015?

We want to support and strengthen the main toy product by bringing a large, cross-category programme to market to meet the huge demand we know is there. There's nothing more exciting than seeing a product on shelf and in the hands of a fan.