Archive for October, 2020

Making Toys With Covid

Wait, what?

Well, that headline did not come out right at all. 

No, Gigglicious has not taken a new direction into designing infectious toys. What this blog actually covers is how the toy industry has handled challenges with the emergence of COVID-19 and how Gigglicious has fared in this new economic climate.

Gigglicious was fortunate to survive the pandemic in a season where many small businesses did not. We never take for granted how blessed we are to be able to run a business on our own, let alone survive a pandemic. Thank you to those of you who have expressed concern about our business health. Like all of us, we managed to figure it out one day at a time. We are happily back to working and inventing full-time.

While COVID wreaked havoc on a global economic scale, according to The NPD Group, toy sales grew 19% between mid-March and mid-April in the U.S.  In the first half of 2020, there was 9% growth in 12 global markets. The category leader has been Games and Puzzles so far this year, followed by Outdoor & Sports Toys. These categories were obvious frontrunners with everyone stuck at home. How many puzzles did you do?

While toilet paper shortages were making headlines in April, the toy shelves were pretty well stocked. In late 2019, fearing that Trump would impose tariffs on toys imported from China, some manufacturers we spoke with took measures to ship ample product. Once the pandemic hit, they were able to meet demand for several months. 

Like the rest of the corporate world, the main struggle for toy companies was streamlining an efficient way for teams to work from home. From our inventor perspective, all on-going product development conversations and inventor relations reviews abruptly stopped mid-March. Everything we’d presented at New York Toy Fair 2020 immediately became a moot point. If we were actually able to speak with anyone, they were uncertain whether any product would get manufactured for 2021. At the very least, they were in no position to speculate about it when they were simply trying to keep a company afloat from their living room.

Since the world had seemingly stopped turning, we decided to just take time off. I wish I could report that we came up with new ideas, we prototyped, and that COVID was our muse to great ideation. But, that wasn’t the case. We found that in the uncertainty, it was hard to think, let alone create or be creative. We hunkered down with the kids and busied ourselves with house projects and, honestly, I’m not really sure what else we did. We existed. It was all we felt capable of accomplishing. And, at the time, that was something.

Spring turned to summer. We kept periodically reaching out to our contacts and by the end of summer they slowly began to respond to our calls. The market numbers had been released for the first half of the year and the industry appeared solid. Consumers wanted toys and it would appear that they were going to keep on buying. Suddenly product development teams were interested in new ideas. There were slots to fill. Marketing departments were making wishlists. The toy world was ready to move forward and they needed ideas right then.  

We’ve come up with a couple of new ideas, but have mostly re-submitted many of our Toy Fair ideas. Although many of our contacts had already seen them, in the blur of quarantine everything has seemed new again. Currently, we have more concepts under review than we have had in ages. We are hopeful that we will get a few license deals signed in the next couple months.

Just when we thought we had found a semi-normal rhythm to life: then came October.

COVID found its way to our house and put its magic infectious touch on each and every one of us. We are all on the mend and, thankfully, we were not badly effected by it like so many others have been. But our takeaway from the experience is that COVID can be relentless and a tough roommate to evict. (Also that I will never underestimate how much I enjoy tasting and smelling things.)

As always, thank you for supporting our business in any way you can, for buying our toys and for being our friends. We are very grateful for you. Please stay safe and healthy!

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