Toy Fair “Reimagination” Project Moves to Second Stage

toy-fair-memoriesFebruary 2, 2022 | The Toy Association, producer of Toy Fair New York, and strategic partner mdg, experts in the trade show and association space, have moved to the second stage of a more than year-long process to “reimagine” what Toy Fair can and must be in the coming years to best serve its various global audiences in a swiftly evolving retail and manufacturing environment.

Toy Fair is the largest toy show in the western hemisphere; for more than a century, it has brought together manufacturers, distributors, importers, retailers, and other toy industry stakeholders to do business in the heart of New York City.

The Toy Fair Reimagination Project is looking at every aspect of Toy Fair, from timing and location to in-show experiences and content, to the Toy Fair brand itself. The agency was first tasked with exploring a brand for Toy Fair New York that will serve as a foundation to: more accurately reflect the industry, evolving beyond the physical manifestation of toys to include playful experiences, edu- and entertainment, and environments across all ages; appropriately leverage the legacy and equity of “toy” while simultaneously generating excitement for the future; and create stronger engagement with current participants and attract non-participants.

A comprehensive brand audit and multiple focus groups of exhibitors, retailers, and attendees have been completed and presented to the Board of Directors of The Toy Association. The framing of this project was coined as “reinvention” and “reimagination” as the Board's aligned sentiment was that simple “change” or “evolution” was not enough.

“We’ve been adamant that every aspect of Toy Fair is on the table and open for change to make certain it serves the industry both today and for years to come,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “The business of toys, play products, youth entertainment, and licensing is vastly different than just a few years ago and continues to rapidly change and become even more fast-paced, therefore Toy Fair, too, must change.”

Multiple layers of stakeholder learning about both the business and emotional role the show plays for each of its diverse audience members has been married with other work conducted directly by the Association to determine the optimal timing and location of Toy Fair. As buying cycles shift and expectations of product delivery timelines from manufacturers accelerate, the early fall season of the year is indicated to be ideal future timing. These timing aspects of the show are receiving close attention by The Toy Association’s Trade Show Committee and will be a key agenda item for the Association’s board during its upcoming meeting on February 18 and its Annual General Meeting on February 22.

Work by mdg has further documented that while the Toy Fair brand is beloved there is opportunity to leverage its legacy. As the shift in the show’s timing is addressed, mdg is concurrently progressing to next steps of recommending future brand strategy, graphic representations, key messaging, and roll out.

Members of the toy community will be kept apprised of developments related to the Toy Fair Reimagination Project.