Little Kids, Big Screen Sales
If it captures their attention, it can capture sales
Are you familiar with Frankie Stein and her "ghoulfriends" from "Monster High"? How about Lalaloopsy dolls? If you're not, you probably should be.
Kids are spending more time than ever before watching television, playing video games and watching their favorite DVD over and over and over again, so these characters play a large role in their daily life. When it comes to Halloween - or dressing up for fun any time of the year - the characters they see each day are the ones they want to be.
While some of the characters are new on the scene, some like Spider-Man and Strawberry Shortcake are simply being reinvented for a younger audience that wasn't previously exposed to them in the past. Taking a bestselling costume character and reinventing it for a new demographic allows the next generation to continue to enjoy and appreciate the character.
"From Spider-Man and Thomas the Tank to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, kids always want to be their favorite character," said Amanda Marples of Disguise. "Disguise has taken Thomas the Tank, which is popular with both boys and girls alike, and created a ‘Frilly Thomas' costume for 2012 for all the little girls out there that adore Thomas, but also want to be girly."
Rubie's Costume Co. has put a modern twist on Strawberry Shortcake, a line that now appeals to girls of all ages. By also offering costumes of her friends, such as Blueberry Muffin and Lemon Meringue, retailers can provide customers with a great option for group costumes. They're also tapping into the latest screen sensations.
"For Rubie's, the most popular girls license in 2011 was Monster High, which appeals to the 5-year-old and up crowd," said Howard Beige of Rubie's. "Popular for the 5-year-old and under crowd was Lalaloopsy, which was sweet, cute and selling out faster than we had predicted. Because of this, we plan on expanding not only with more characters, but also with more garments for each character."
Boys' costumes get a superhero boost from movie releases such as "The Avengers," "G.I. Joe," "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," along with Harry Potter and zombies from "The Walking Dead."
Enchanted Costumes, Leg Avenue's children's line, will continue to focus on the classic characters that have proven successful.
"With two Snow White movie releases in 2012 and ‘Dorothy of Oz,' along with the new ‘Hero' movie from Disney, girls' costumes will reflect strong female characters," said Lisa Griffin of Leg Avenue. "With the releases of ‘Hotel Transylvania' and ‘ParaNorman,' it also opens up opportunities for classic monster and zombie characters for kids, too."
Triton Klugh of InCharacter Costumes agreed that people can expect the scary and gory trend to continue into 2012, with classic horror and occupational zombies staying strong. For boys, they've focused on horror with a Mad Scientist costume featuring an exposed brain wig and a Skinned Alive costume featuring a gory, peeling muscle mask and sculpted chest piece.
"On the other side of things, fashion's current fascination with fur has led the way in introducing more whimsical animal styles with character hoods and plush leg warmers," Klugh added. "For tweens, we have introduced Panda Monium, and for infants we have new Owl and Peacock costumes with novel colors and fabrics. We are also offering deep sea inspired characters like our Bite Size shark and Tiny Tentacles octopus."
Griffin agreed that animals are always a popular costume, but with the recent pop culture trend of animal hoodies and Spirit Hoods, the popularity of animal costumes is on the rise, as are family costumes.
"Our children's line often reflects our adult line, so it's always our priority to focus on costumes that parents can wear with their kids to create a fun group costume look," Griffin said. "There is nothing cuter than a little girl princess with her Prince Charming father or an adorable little Alice with her Mad Hatter dad and Queen of Hearts mom."
Dreamgirl has expanded their Sugar Sugar by Dreamgirl Costume Collection for 2012 to now include costumes for children, tweens and teens.
"With the Sugar Sugar line, little girls will have three times the fun in 3-in-1 costumes that allow her to go from a ballerina to a princess to a fairy," said Dreamgirl's Alicia Brockwell. "There are nine 3-in-1 styles launching in the line, and we've also added a boys line called Mischief and Mayhem that includes gore galore with Zombie cops, vampires, the Grim Reaper and ninjas."
Staying with a classic, Rasta Imposta will add accessories to their popular Crayola line with the addition of Crayola branded colored wigs and eyelashes. In addition, new branded costumes being introduced include a line based on Campbell Soups, Nestle and Wonka Candy, with the Wonka Candy brands featuring favorites such as Nerds, Fun Dip and Sweet Tarts being brought to the Halloween market.
"Rasta will also introduce costumes for babies and toddlers featuring the characters from the new BBC Show ‘In the Night Garden' for 2012, and an updated version of our Rock'em Sock'em robots and Whack-a-Mole costumes," said Gary Schneider of Rasta Imposta. "Additionally, Rasta Imposta has been granted the licensing rights for ‘LazyTown' and will be producing costumes for boys and girls featuring Sportacus and Stephanie."
At Wally's Party Factory in Texas, buyers work to make sure they offer the hottest themes of the year, as well as perennial favorites.
"When it comes to children's costumes, kids usually know what they want to be way before Halloween," said Terese James of Wally's Party Factory. "In this economy, parents are most often looking at price while their children are focused on theme. We merchandise themed accessories next to relevant costumes or groups of costumes to offer a variety of price options to parents while fulfilling the wish of the child."
Beige said that the most successful way to merchandise these costumes is to "boutique" 10 to 15 of the top licenses for the season so that the customer doesn't have to search for anything.
"For example, if a ‘Batman Headquarters' is created that includes costumes of every size, makeup, masks, etc., customers will end up purchasing more items than they planned," he said. "If space is limited, place multiple hooks of the key characters around the store to increase the customer exposure to those key items."
Klugh agreed that grouping similar characters together is an easy way to guide people to where they can find what they are looking for, and explore their options. Also, keeping costumes at an easy eye level for children will make a huge difference in what captures their attention.
And if it captures their attention on the screen and in the store, it will most likely capture the sale.
By Abby Heugel