The gadget and gift retailer, Menkind has highlighted its plans to expand on its licensed products and exclusive ranges as it heads into the Christmas shopping season, a move that has been driven by the increased consumer engagement with pop culture TV, films, video games and entertainment throughout the pandemic.
Licensed products, according to the retailer, who recently detailed its plans to open concession stores with the UK department store giant Debenhams in the run up to Christmas, have become a “comfort blanket for consumers in difficult times,” and as a result will be increasing its listings as it adapts to current demands.
Last month, Menkind revealed that it was opening 23 concession stores within select Debenhams department stores across the UK, planning to open each from the start of October. The new concessions will be staffed by over 50 new recruits across all locations, and will stock all the core Menkind product range.
Among those ranges will be key trends to have emerged from 2020, including the greater lean on licensed products, as well as a trend for adult party games driven by the increased time consumers are spending socialising from home over virtual gatherings and group chats.
“Being stuck at home, people have turned to movie and TV show online streaming services, as well as games and video gaming as their main entertainment,” Fred Prego, director of marketing and e-commerce at Menkind, told ToyNews.
“Licensed products have become a comfort blanket in these difficult times. We have always stocked a quirky and unique range, so it’s definitely in our plans to expand our offering with new products and exclusive lines that are in high demand. I think it’s crucial to really listen to what consumers want during these times and adapt to trends very quickly.
“Meanwhile, with limited socialising in pubs and restaurants across the country, the biggest trend in my opinion is friends getting together virtually to have fun and relax with a drink. For that reason, we have extended our range of adult and party games that can easily be played in group chats.”
With the nation staring down localised lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and restrictions in place in varying degrees across the country, Menkind has acted to adapt to the new model of Christmas shopping likely to be adopted this year. Its partnership with Debenhams places the brand within destination shopping zones ahead of the festive season.
Confirmed Debenhams store locations where Menkind will open include Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Colchester, Guildford, Manchester, Luton, London Oxford Street, Middlesbrough, Warrington and more.
“With Christmas markets and fairs likely not happening this year, we created an omni-channel proposition called ‘Menkind Wonderland’, to offer our customers a variety of toy, gift and gadget stalls online and in-store,” continued Prego.
“Debenhams felt like the perfect partnership to give shoppers a safe and fun pre-Christmas experience, and their widely accessible network of stores will help us best serve customers throughout the country during the busy holiday shopping period and beyond.
“Our Christmas range includes a wealth of unique gifts, gadgets and licensed merchandise, so we are determined not to have Christmas cancelled this year.”
When lockdown was first announced in March this year, Menkind swiftly began to introduce new products ranges such as puzzles and card games, in order to tap into the rising trend for family entertainment over the earlier part of the year.
“We also gave our online channels extra attention to ensure our customers are having a seamless shopping experience,” said Prego. “More recently, we’ve launched a range of exclusives and have implemented all the necessary safety measures during and post-lockdown. We are constantly listening to government advice in order to react as quickly as possible to any changes that affect retailers.
“Another initiative we’ve been working on has been releasing dedicated product ranges for key events earlier, to give people the opportunity to plan their shopping better, especially if it involves trips to the store. We started selling advent calendars as early as August, and it’s been very well received by our customers.
“Whilst we are continuously implementing all the safety measures recommended by authorities, we have made it our mission to communicate the same sense of fun and positiveness our customers are used to, and offer them the best experience possible in-store and across our online channels,” Prego concluded.