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Just Play on Navigating Toy Market Trends

Anna Chapman, vice president, international licensing, Just Play, reveals how the toy company further expands children’s imaginations through its licensed toys.

McKenna Morgan

February 19, 2024

4 Min Read
Elmo plush.
Elmo plush.Just Play

Toy company, Just Play, encourages imaginative play for toddlers and kids, with products in role-play, dressup, plush, early learning and education, activity toys and much more. The company works with several brands to help kids bring their dreams to life, including Hasbro, Mattel, Moonbug, Paramount and The Walt Disney Company. As an integral part of Just Play’s success, Anna Chapman provides valuable insights into upcoming toy market trends and the company’s innovative licensing strategies. Chapman explains how Just Play is positioned to navigate the competitive toy industry and continue delivering exciting and engaging products.

Anna Chapman, Just Play

Anna Chapman: Looking ahead, we anticipate several key trends that will shape the toy market landscape. Economic pressures continue to impact consumer choices, prompting them to seek greater value in their toy purchases. As a result, companies need to prioritize the value proposition of their offerings and ensure they meet or exceed consumer expectations.

Another notable trend we expect will continue is the growth of collectibles, driven by innovation and themes that appeal to a broad consumer base. These trends tend to come in waves as hot properties gain popularity, with something new always around the corner. We are preparing to delight children and toy collectors with unique licensed collectible brands in 2024.

Furthermore, with a relatively light year for blockbuster toy movies following the film industry strikes, evergreen licenses and original toy brands will rise without the dominance of a movie-led franchise driving sales. This provides an excellent opportunity for companies to focus on the strength of their brands and innovation.

How does entertainment impact how toy companies license?

What other things is Just Play keeping in mind when choosing licenses? Entertainment is a broad spectrum. The definition of entertainment is broader than ever before. In addition to traditional movies and broadcast series, consumers engage with brands across web content, gaming, apps and even immersive experiences. This expanded source of content offers toy companies a broader range of licensing opportunities.

While the traditional licensing of entertainment IP remains robust, we are witnessing a growing trend of established toy and game brands being licensed by third parties. Indeed, Just Play recently introduced our range of furReal interactive feature plush toys under our brand license agreement with Hasbro. This collaboration demonstrates the diversification and success of our licensing strategies.


Another of our partners, Sesame Workshop, has entertained and educated children for over 50 years. They are in a unique position in that many of the “Sesame Street” characters kids enjoy today are the same ones that their parents grew up loving. This allows us to develop toys that create shared experiences with multigenerational appeal.

Overall, our licensing strategies at Just Play focus on building a diverse portfolio that encompasses licenses across various consumer demographics and categories – with each new partnership providing robust longterm business potential and opening doors to new or expanded distribution.

Speaking of doors, this manifests in different forms: maybe an established brand with room for growth, developing a new toy line based on original content or a brand that can be relaunched with a new partner, such as Just Play. Disney Doorables serves as a prime example of a brand that Just Play was able to take to the next level – since our relaunch in 2019, Doorables has become one of the top collectible brands in the market.


How does the cost-of-living impact toy sales, and how is Just Play countering this?

The economic challenges of 2023 put significant pressure on the global toy industry, just as it has with other consumer product segments. To win in this environment, price point and product value are essential. Delivering products that offer great value for money and align with consumer demand is a priority.

Just Play actively listens to consumers and retailers, ensuring our offering meets their needs, preferences and expectations. Flexibility and adaptability are essential traits in navigating challenging consumer spending periods. Efficient business practices, smart media investments and staying connected with our partners are all key to our success in countering the cost-of-living impact.

Despite the current market challenges, Just Play is committed to international expansion and investing in resources to drive growth in the years ahead. In 2023, we opened new offices in Europe and LATAM. 2024 will see further expansion, including Asia. Investing now in a bigger future will set us up for substantial growth in the coming years, which is great news for Just Play and our licensing partners around the world.

This article was taken from February's issue of License Global.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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