Toy Association 2021-2022 Events: What You Need to Know

January 12, 2021 | Toy News Tuesday editors caught up with Kimberly Carcone, The Toy Association’s vice president of market events, to talk about the Association’s mix of digital and live event offerings for 2021-2022. Here’s what she had to say…

toy-association-kim-carconeLast week, it was announced that Toy Fair New York would not take place for 2021. How is the Association pivoting to respond with new solutions for its members?

Normally, the industry would be in Hong Kong right now, then heading to London and Nuremberg before making their way to Toy Fair New York. But in the absence of these physical shows and amidst the pandemic, what we have all learned is in order to be successful, companies must take a hybrid approach to conducting their business.

Like many of the companies we serve, The Toy Association has had to re-engineer and reimagine our own skills and services many times over the past year to respond to member needs. And because of this, we know that even when it is safe to return to face-to-face meetings and events again, incorporating a broader mix of digital, virtual, and physical offerings is the best way to help members find success in an ever-changing retail landscape.

In 2021-2022, this will take shape in the form of Toy Fair Everywhere’s transition into a year-round platform; new virtual private product previews with major retailers; the evolution of our in-person shows, Toy Fair Dallas 2021 and Toy Fair New York 2022; as well as the introduction of even more custom offerings.

What is the Association’s goal for expanding Toy Fair Everywhere into a year-round platform and creating other new digital offerings?

Toy Fair Everywhere may have launched as a series of digital market weeks to help businesses forge ahead at a time when in-person events were not possible, but the tool was already in development well before the pandemic started. Recognizing that a digital option would be a necessary addition to the marketing toolbox of every 21st century buyer or seller, Toy Fair Everywhere was always intended to be something members could utilize year-round for product sales, promotion, and discovery. No transaction fees, no gimmicks, just a powerful tool that connects the global toy community, responds to the evolving needs of members, and keeps business moving forward. We are seeing that come to fruition.

Likewise, the absence of face-to-face previews allowed us to answer the calls of major retailers looking for new ways to connect with toy companies, in some cases, that were not previously doing business with them. This led to the rollout of virtual private product previews that resulted in new opportunities for nearly 400 companies that applied to participate in Q4 2020. With retailers already looking at this option for Q1, this initiative will continue to deliver value to companies large and small and serves as a testament to our never-ending search for innovative and relevant ways to support our members. The next virtual event with specialty retailer Claire’s is scheduled to take place February 4, and additional previews will be announced throughout the year.

What changes can we expect to see for Toy Fair Dallas and Toy Fair New York?

In the absence of live events in the first half of the year, Toy Fair Dallas 2021 is poised to play an even more significant role in bringing the global toy community together in person from October 5 through October 7. The show remains a must-attend for retailers (including Amazon, Target, and Walmart), and in recent years has unveiled new initiatives like the FutureCast Gallery that invite attendees to look at products outside their normal hit lists and think differently about retailing.

We will build on this momentum heading into Toy Fair New York 2022 (February 19 through February 22) in a newly expanded Jacob K. Javits Center that will create new opportunities for exhibitors, more educational offerings and networking opportunities (e.g. Student Congress), and expanded programming (e.g. Creative Factor and Generations of Play).

We continue to rely on our members, especially our board of directors and trade show committee, to help us understand how businesses have changed and adapted, and how we can continue to best serve and celebrate the industry’s spirit and hard work in the months and years ahead. Being nimble will be critical and The Toy Association team is ready to meet the challenges of 2021 and forge into 2022 with a hybrid portfolio of go-to-market opportunities designed to meet the needs of the toy community.

To learn more about Toy Fair Dallas and additional business and sales opportunities, companies beginning with A–F and T–Z can contact Simon Yung and companies beginning with G–S can contact Stacy Liebensohn for more information.