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How Shopkins have become big success globally

Vicki Vanilla. Susie Sausage. Buncho Bananas..

If these names sound like gibberish to you now, consider yourself warned: There’s a good chance you’ll soon be on a frantic hunt to get them under your Christmas tree.

These tiny plastic characters are part of an explosively growing line of toys called Shopkins, which can perhaps best be described as personified versions of items you’d find at the grocery store or the mall — miniature pastries or high heels with cute faces.

After just over two years on store shelves, Shopkins has become a huge business: Market research firm NPD Group reports that a 12-pack of assorted Shopkins was the single best-selling toy in 2015, edging out items from popular properties such as Star Wars and Barbie. And so far this year, Shopkins has seen a 98 percent increase in sales.

As with any toy craze — Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo, Skylanders — it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why these characters have captured kids’ attention and parents’ wallets to the extent they have. But industry analysts say that much of it has to do with finding a niche in the noisy toy marketplace that wasn’t being filled.

Shopkins are designed to be collectibles. Like baseball cards or Pokemon, you trade them with your friends. There are rare characters that keep you constantly scouring the toy store, hoping to add to your trove.

Prior to Shopkins’ arrival, “there really hadn’t been a strong collectible for girls,” said Laurie Schacht, co-publisher at toy review site The Toy Insider.

In this era of fast fashion and same-day delivery, Shopkins has made it a practice to introduce new toys at a breakneck pace. It rolls out an army of new characters about every six months, betting that a focus on freshness is important at a moment when kids (and parents) have so many programming and toy choices. Jim Silver, chief executive of toy review site TTPM, said this strategy may be another reason the brand has gained traction.

“You can go back to Beanie Baby, how that lasted for many years,” Silver said. “What was part of the key is continually refreshing the lines.”

It’s hard to know whether Shopkins has sparked a broader wave of interest in collectibles, or has simply been the beneficiary of it. But, either way, NPD has found that the category has “significant momentum” heading into the important holiday selling season, with sales up 64 percent so far this year.

Reference: Article Data Taken from The Washington Post Published on November 24, 2016

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