Tokyo, Japan (June 6th, 2017) — When it comes to product I feel like the world is getting smaller. Trends are moving faster across oceans and consumerism in this space is much more global than the borders that divide us. Japan has traditionally been a beacon for the unique and and the abstract and my adventures in Tokyo this year aligned with that theory. I created this trend report as a composite of what I saw at the Tokyo Toy Fair and the shopping I did in some of Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods – Shibuya, Omote-Sando, & Hirajuku.
POKEMON – A little obvious that I would come back from Japan and tell you Pokemon was hot – but it was EVERYWHERE. This brand was much bigger this trip than when I came to Tokyo 12 months ago. This uptick aligns with what is happening in the US as Pokemon is the #1 brand in the US up 104% YTD according to NPD. This growth is especially being driven by the Pokemon Sun & Moon trading cards.
SUMIKKO GURASHI – This is the next big brand for introverts. Following in the success of Rilakkuma and Gudetama, Sumikko Gurashi is a band of coy, kawaii characters that hang out the the “corner of the room.” With powerhouses TOMY Takara and Bandai both producing products for the property, it gives it the assortment and credibility to make the jump to North America.
PURIKURA (Picture Club) – ¥400 (roughly $4) allows a young girl to participate in the hottest trend in Japan. These are store fronts (or clubs) full of digital photo booths that let you and your friends take and edit your photos with fun filters and emojis. Each photo booth is branded with famous models, pop stars, and fashion icons that offer unique customizations and various digital swag. The girls get the photos emailed and promote the trend on social media to show off how kawaii they are to all their friends. A quick search for #purikura on Instagram yields 250,885 results.
THE SNACK WORLD – From Level-5, makers of Yoki Watch, comes their newest content crossover property that will have both cartoon and video game coming out later this year. The trailer below showcases phenomenal animation and with TOMY behind the brand with the master toy license it should be on everyone’s radar for top boy’s property in 2018.
NORTH AMERICAN PRODUCTS IN THE JAPANESE MARKET – As the internet connects us as “one consumer,” plenty of American brands have found their way over to Japan through distribution partners. New entrees from Moose, WowWee, Spin Master, and more are debuting at the same time in Japan as they are in North America further proving how important it is for all toy companies to think globally when launching a new brand. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to see familiar products in Japanese packaging.
Sylvanian Families/Calico Critters/Epoch – The brand originally launched in 1985 and has built an incredible following globally over 32 years in the market. The quality, meticulous attention to detail, and a multi-million-dollar TV spend are catapulting this brand into the next echelon. While there are plenty of fashion-focused small doll brands, Epoch offers a unique positioning, focused on traditional play patterns, wholesome motifs, and a modular system that promotes multiple purchases.
TOIO – Sony is entering the toy market in a very unique way; instead of making a product, they are launching a platform. Think of it as a toy gaming system that will rely on traditional toy makers to make games leveraging their brands. The product comes with game mat, two robotic smart cubes that are popular construction toy compatible, and two accelerometer controllers. This allows for some really unique play that builds from the STEM movement and integrates it into a seamless play pattern for kids. Check out the video to really get a feel for the most innovative product at the show.
**BONUS** SQUISHY EVERYTHING – Yes this trend is a big deal in Japan and we have already seen it percolate into the North American market. Food items continue to be the current driver for the trend but licensed foam plush is coming; my favorite was the Mochi Mochi brand from Tomy.
Thank you for taking the time and interest to check out my post, if you would like to discuss anything in this trend report in more detail please don’t hesitate to contact me SteveS@diversemail.com or follow my adventures visually on Instagram at @RedStarArmy1.
Chief Discovery Officer, Diverse Insights