Magazines are continuing to act as a successful brand extension for many toy brands, while TV shows are also starting to tap into the market. Here, Sophie Rowlands, licensing manager and Anna Clothier, editorial and marketing executive at Kennedy Publishing, reveals why the print market is going from strength to strength.
Why are brands, such as Yoohoo & Friends and Num Noms, choosing to expand into print with a magazine?
In recent years we have witnessed a huge shift in how children consume their media. A few years ago, TV broadcasting used to be the main factor in determining a brand’s success. Now the diverse range of media available to pre-schoolers has meant that licensors must ensure their brands are accessible on all platforms, as confirmed in a recent Insight Kids article highlighting the need for ‘360-degree brand development’.
Magazines are well regarded by parents who are keen to reduce the amount of time their children spend fixated on screens and want to encourage them to enjoy reading, writing and interacting with a variety of imaginative activities. With good reason, many licensors still regard a magazine publishing deal to be a substantial part of their brand’s licensing programme.
How does a brand lend itself to a magazine? For example, what makes Num Noms and Yoohoo & Friends suitable for print?
We look for brands that have captivating characters, imaginative storytelling, and, above all, an element of fun. Practically they must have an attractive and comprehensive style guide and a property owner who is passionate and engaged with the brand.
Both Num Noms and Yoohoo & Friends are highly recognisable brands with a wide reaching appeal. A brand’s toy sales are also a key indicator of success. Our magazine sales are directly impacted by a license’s performance and we have seen that successful toy sales directly translate into strong magazine sales at retail. For example, Num Noms is one of the must-have collectable toy brands of the moment, while Yoohoo & Friends has sold 34 million plush toys since its launch.
Both also have a visible online and broadcast presence; Num Noms webisodes regularly boast over two million views on YouTube, while Yoohoo and Friends has recently launched on Netflix – two platforms where children are now spending the majority of their viewing time.
Unlike other licensed categories, magazines often survive a brand’s decline in popularity, even after its presence on television has ceased.
How does a magazine help to increase a brand’s presence with fans?
Magazines are highly visible and accessible products. They are often displayed within a child’s line of vision in supermarkets and newsagents, and can easily be picked up as part of the weekly shop. Relatively low cover prices make magazines excellent value for money, and the fast-paced nature of the marketplace means that publishers are able to respond to all the latest developments in the pre-school sector.
With most magazines on sale every four weeks, content can be continually refreshed and updated. Children can watch their favourite characters on TV, then go out and buy the magazine, affirming that brand’s presence in the minds of its young fans.
As a brand extension, how successful have magazine launches proven to be for brands?
Magazine launches have proved to be highly successful. Publishers will orchestrate launches to ensure that the magazine reaches shelves at the height of a brand’s popularity, when it is visible on TV, online and on the toy shelves. Most publishers will only launch a magazine once other licensors are onboard with the brand; in particular, master toy licenses, as this is a key indicator of future success.
Unlike other licensed categories, magazines often survive a brand’s decline in popularity, even after its presence on television has ceased. The longevity of children’s magazine titles is testament to the important part they play in a brand’s licensing portfolio.