bossardIn 2017, the hottest toys included collectibles, squishies, slime, and toys based on popular entertainment properties. By Bianca Herron

At the upcoming Toy Fair show Feb. 17 to 20, every inch of available space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will be filled with hundreds of thousands of creative new toys and games, including affordable collectibles and innovative tech toys to licensed product and retro playthings, according to The Toy Association’s Executive Vice President of Global Market Events Marian Bossard.

“Buyers and other trade guests will have access to more than 1,000 innovative global toymakers,” Bossard says. “This not only includes veterans brands, but also more than 100 first-time exhibitors whose never-before-seen toys will be featured in the launch pad section of the show. In all, 30,000 global play professionals vying for a stake in the $27 billion U.S. toy market will be at Toy Fair.”

In addition to being one of the top events to spot the latest trends in toys and play, Toy Fair will also feature educational programming and networking activities to ensure that its 30,000 attendees have a satisfying experience. “Seminar highlights include the always well-attended toy safety seminar, drop-in sessions and workshops for entrepreneurs, a toy trends briefing led by our in-house trend experts, an insight-driven seminar led by staff at Amazon, and sessions tailored to the needs of specialty retailers,” Bossard notes.

Attendees also can plan their visit and navigate the show by downloading the Toy Fair Mobile app, which is free on iTunes and Google Play. The app lists seminars and special events, shuttle bus schedules, the exhibitor floor plan and more. “Buyers who want to get a head-start on discovering new products and companies at Toy Fair can also ShopToys365.com,” Bossard says. “It’s the toy community’s premier e-commerce platform, which enables retailers and toy companies to connect year-round and conduct business efficiently online.”

Top Trends of 2017

In 2017, collectibles, squishies, slime and toys based on popular entertainment properties were a huge success across all age groups. Traditional toys with tried-and-true play value – from board games and puzzles to dolls and plush – also drove sales, says Adrienne Appell, director of strategic communications.

“Affordable collectibles of all kind – a trend we dubbed Collectibles 2.0 – was one of the year’s biggest trends,” she says. “From skill-building and innovative collectibles to collectibles in blind packs, these toys were a top contributor to industry growth. We also saw a surge in educational toys for all age groups, and an array of licensed toys infused with creative components and educational play value.”

In a tech-driven world, it’s hard to believe that classic toys and games, including plush, are experiencing a surge in popularity, she adds. “Recent sales growth in traditional categories proves that millennial parents are seeking traditional toys that empower their kids to use their imaginations and limit screen-time,” Appell says. “For generations, kids have played with dolls and stuffed toys, which allow kids to act out their future roles as parents and foster open-ended play.”

2018 Toy Trends Forecast

The Toy Association’s top trends of 2018 will be announced Feb. 18 during its “Toy Trends Briefing.” “Our trend experts will share each of the top-line trends using product examples directly from the show floor,” Appell explains. “While I can’t give the trends away just yet, I can say that toys that teach a wide spectrum of topics will be popular this year, including playthings that teach kids how to make the world a better place. We’re also expecting to see a surge in classic toys and retro brands that attract parents looking to engage with their kids on an unplugged level.”

ETAIL PREVIEWCES is a high-level business event that touches every industry, reflecting and driving global technology innovation as it evolves. By Bianca Herron

CES® 2018 will bring together more than 170,000 attendees from more than 150 countries when it convenes Jan. 9-12 in Las Vegas. Touted as the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, CES’s exhibit floor boasts more than 2 million square feet featuring 3,900 exhibiting companies.

From keynote addresses to more than 300 conference sessions and events and awards, CES has it all. The CES 2018 conference sessions touch on nearly every topic arising from the show floor including key trends as well as emerging technologies. 

Taking the Podium

Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CES is one of the world’s top podiums for CEOs. Esteemed speakers tout disruptive technology and envision new trends and markets through the CES conference program.

This year’s keynotes will take place in two venues this year — the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom and a new location, the Monte Carlo’s Park Theater. Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich will return to the CES keynote stage to deliver the pre-show address Monday, Jan. 8, in the Monte Carlo’s Park Theater.

Krzanich last delivered a CES keynote in 2016 where he outlined the expanding boundaries of technology and how the world is being reshaped. The following year he hosted a first-of-its-kind press conference in virtual reality (VR) at the show.

This year, Krzanich returns with a keynote that will explore how the industry is entering an artificial intelligence revolution. Additionally, he will showcase the new experiences that are possible when the power of data is unlocked, according to a release.

“We love hosting Brian Krzanich as a CES keynoter,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA said. “Not only is he an incredible visionary, but he backs up his visions with action. Intel’s focus on data combined with Brian’s forward-thinking outlook is shaping innovation of the future.

“Brian’s fourth keynote at CES will show how Intel is taking the next steps to reimagine how data will create amazing new experiences that will transform daily lives,” he adds.

In addition, Huawei’s CEO of Consumer Business Group Richard Yu will deliver a keynote address Tuesday, Jan. 9, in the Venetian Palazzo Ballroom. In 2017, Yu took to the CES keynote stage to discuss the future of mobility, specifically in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and connected technologies.

He returns in 2018 to share Huawei’s exploration on future connectivity and strategy in AI, the Internet of things and new smart devices. Yu’s keynote mirrors many of the key industry trends that will be showcased throughout CES.

According to a release, numerous exhibitors at CES will display the latest connected technologies, specifically focused on IoT, 5G connectivity, transportation, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

“Mr. Yu is an industry visionary pioneering the future of mobility,” Shapiro said. “Under his leadership, Huawei has become a world-class, global brand that represents innovation and the power of connectivity. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Yu back to the CES keynote stage.”

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NACSMore than 23,000 attendees will convene in Chicago to network and learn. By Bianca Herron

Each year, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show brings together convenience and fuel retailing industry professionals for four days of learning, buying and selling, and networking to help them grow their bottom line.

As the industry’s premier event, this year the NACS show will be held Oct. 17-20 in Chicago. More than 23,000 attendees from around the world will convene at the 400,000 square foot expo, which features thousands of the latest products and services that c-stores sell and use every day.

The NACS expo is segmented into six categories: Fuel Equipment & Services, Food Equipment & Foodservice Programs, Candy/Snacks, Facility Development & Store Operations, and Merchandise and Technology. Each area of the NACS show provides all attendees a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience to meet everyone of their individual and very unique needs.

For example, the expo’s Cool New Products Preview Room is loaded with new innovations, products, services and other growth opportunities. The preview room is segmented into seven areas to help attendees easily locate new products: Green (eco-friendly), Health & Wellness, New Design, New Flavors, New to the Industry, New Services and New Technology.

Fresh Ideas

Attendees will be able to dive into specific industry topics with the show’s more than 55 educational sessions. Each session at the show is thoughtfully developed by industry leaders and led by respected industry experts.

The learning possibilities for attendees are limitless, with topics such as succession planning, retaining employees within a changing workforce, trends in foodservice culture and strategizing under uncertainty.

For many, learning from education sessions is one of the primary reasons for attending the annual NACS show. To optimize its attendees’ experience, for the second year in a row, NACS is offering Session Sign-up.

“Each year we strive to deliver value through our educational content while offering a satisfying experience that is conducive to learning,” NACS Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Training and Development Doug Reed said in a release. “The use of Session Sign-up demonstrates that we’ve listened and have worked to improve the on-site attendee experience.

“By encouraging NACS Show attendees to sign up for education sessions in advance, NACS will be better able to match session demand with room sizes and give attendees a seat in the sessions they want to experience most,” he adds.

Engagement Efforts

This year’s NACS Show general session speakers aim to inspire attendees on various topics, including culture and employee engagement. This year’s general speaker lineup includes William Shatner, Chip Conley and Eric Chester.

On Oct. 17, motivational speaker and author Eric Chester will focus on creating a culture that makes a retailers’ company a great place to work. “Culture is nothing that can be passed down from the corporate office,” Chester said in a release. “You’ve got to be a great place to work.”

During his talk, he will focus on how to achieve that through compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, autonomy, communication and acknowledgement.

Conley, a strategic advisor for Airbnb, said he learned how to be a great manager by observing one of his former bosses at McDonald’s do everything wrong. On Oct. 18, Conley’s session will focus on how to keep c-store employees motivated and share tips like listening to employees, and asking what retailers can do to support them.

On Oct. 20, Hollywood icon and philanthropist Shatner will serve as the closing speaker of the NACS show. With a career that has spanned more than half a century, Shatner has been a director, actor, producer, recording artist, author, horseman, Priceline.com pitchman and screenwriter.

SLTSMore than 2,000 attendees will gather Jan. 23-25 in Las Vegas. By Nikki Puckett

The 12th annual Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show takes place Jan. 23-25, 2018, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year’s show is expected to be the largest to date, and will feature an expanded educational program for retailers and be co-located for the first time with the ICLA Winter Symposium.

Products for Every Fan

More than 2,000 qualified retailers and universities are expected to be in attendance. Attendees represent stores of all sizes and range from specialty shops to department stores to mass-market retailers. The vast array of product categories on display from exhibitors make the show appealing to a variety of retailers.

Approximately 400 companies will exhibit, showing off the latest fan gear to expand the product offerings of retailers. Exhibiting licensees represent all professional and collegiate leagues and teams, and will showcase merchandise in every possible product category from toys and games to apparel, pet products and more. Licensors and agents that participate include IMG College Licensing, Learfield Licensing Partners, NASCAR, Fermata Partners, NHL, and the NBA and NFL Players Associations.

More than 70 new exhibitors have already signed up. First time exhibitors include: Alex and Ani, All Star Dogs, Badger Sportswear, Branded Custom Sportswear Inc./Nike, C&I Collectables, Campus Crew, Catstudio Inc., Charles River Apparel, CI Sport, Coopersburg Sports, Covo Drinkware, Dependable Solutions, DGL Group LTD, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces, Fan Brander, Gracious Living Corp, Greeting Pen Company, Groove Life, Hex Head Art, Hype & Vice, J.F. Sports Canada, College Wallets- College Coolerz, Jardine Associates, Jerzee Art, Kotis Design, Landway, Lauren James, Let’s Light It Up, Lokai Holdings, Nap Cap, Neil Enterprises and NEU Retail.

Additional first-time exhibitors include Nuboard Media, Otter Products, Ouray Sportswear/Holloway, Outugo Inc, Pennington and Bailes, Potter Manufacturing Co, Profile Ent., PROUD Athletics, 2Undr, Score! Designs LLC, Signature Announcements, Simple Modern, Sparta 2002 Designs & Promotions, Spirit Products Ltd, Sports Coverage Inc., Stahls, Strand Art Co, SWEN Products Inc., Tailgater Plates, Tailgating Specialties, Teamwork Athletic Apparel, The Life is Good Company, Timex, Tradition Ever Since, Tribal Inflatable Standup Paddleboards, U.S. Digital Media, University Frames Inc., Vive Le Fete Collegiate, WNA Inc. and Zags LLC.

Expanded Education for Retailers

A new lineup of educational sessions is in the works, with help from the International Licensing Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) and The Mann Group. LIMA will present trends in the licensing industry for 2018 and beyond, based on its industry survey data.

The Mann Group and ICBA will focus on topics relevant to all types of retailers, including developing healthy supplier partnerships and strategies for assortment planning. All of these sessions are free to registered attendees and are designed to give retailers the tools they need to efficiently and effectively grow their businesses.

The educational program kicks off with the 2nd Annual Industry Breakfast and Keynote Speaker. The Industry Breakfast was introduced in 2017 when University of Alabama Athletic Director Bill Battle delivered the show’s first keynote address to a full room. The 2018 Industry Keynote and Breakfast is open to all attendees and exhibitors and will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The keynote speaker will be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition to the SLTS sessions, the International Collegiate Licensing Association (ICLA) will host its Winter Symposium in the days leading up to the show. The ICLA Winter Symposium will consist of two days of educational programming and networking opportunities. Separate registration is required to attend the Winter Symposium. Visit nacda.com for more information.

Money Back on Purchases

The License To Buy Show Specials Program will be back in 2018. A favorite among exhibitors and retailers, this exclusive rebate program gives buyers money back on orders they are already placing at the show. Retail buyers are rewarded based on the number and dollar amount of orders placed with participating exhibitors. Last year more than $3.9 million in orders were written across the three-day show with 98 participating exhibitors. The show gave back nearly $70,000 in rebates to buyers.

Other show highlights include The Opening Night Party and the New Product Zone. The Opening Night Party is the official gathering of all attendees and exhibitors for food, drink and networking. The party will convene Jan. 23 in the Sports Lounge. The New Product Zone is a special display area that lets buyers preview exhibitors’ latest products before they even enter the show floor.

Qualified buyers can register for just $60 prior to Jan. 22. Visit www.SportsTailgateShow.com for more information or to register.

Toy FairToy Fair is the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, and brings together more than 1,100 exhibitors to showcase hundreds of thousands of toys. By Laurie Chartorynsky

Taking place Feb. 17-20, 2018, Toy Fair draws more than 30,000 play professionals to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Attendees can scope out the hottest new toys and games, engage in deal-making with top buyers and sellers, gain exposure from national and international press, and also learn valuable industry insights and trends in a series of seminars and interactive workshops. Attendees can register for Toy Fair here

Toy Fair now occupies every exhibit hall at the Javits Center – and last year’s show shattered exhibit space records. Toymakers and marketers competing for a stake in the $26.5 billion U.S. toy market filled 445,000 square feet of exhibit space (the equivalent of nearly eight football fields) with toys and related play products. Retailers visiting this year’s “must attend” event will once again see every square foot filled with hundreds of thousands of new playthings coming to market in 2018.

Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Jazwares, The LEGO Group, and Wicked Cool Toys are just a few of the more than 1,100 companies showcasing products such as educational toys, STEM/STEAM activities, outdoor toys, arts & crafts, eco-friendly toys, infant and toddler products, collectibles, board games, and the latest in tech-infused playthings. Of note is the Launch Pad hall populated by eager first-time exhibitors, who will display their unique and cutting-edge toys and games for the very first time at Toy Fair.

“Toy Fair is the place to be for buyers looking for the latest toys coming to market – including what could possibly be the next hot toy or youth entertainment product,” says The Toy Association’s Executive Vice President of Global Market Events Marian Bossard. “Buyers walking the floor of the Javits Center will be privy to an array of diverse products for kids of all ages – many of which will not be seen at any other show in the world.”

On top of being a world-renowned business marketplace, Toy Fair offers ample opportunities for networking and learning. Attendees will learn about a range of industry topics such as trends in the retail community, play’s role in society, the latest toy trends, licensing tips, entrepreneurship, and U.S. and global toy safety standards. More educational tracks and speakers will be confirmed in the coming weeks; check ToyFairNY.com for event details.   

Getting Ready for the Show

Retailers can get a head start on scouting product by visiting ShopToys365.com, the play community’s digital marketplace connecting global buyers with suppliers. The ever-evolving platform allows sellers to showcase product and buyers to discover new and valuable suppliers. Through year-round engagement, buyers and sellers can find new business opportunities in a safe and secure digital environment. Retailers interested in learning more about ShopToys365 can contact Scott Evans at scotte@balluun.com.

“Four days does not seem like nearly enough time to take in everything Toy Fair has to offer,” Bossard says. “That’s where ShopToys365 comes in, allowing buyers to do business with vendors via their digital showrooms before, during, and after the show.” Toy Fair will take place Feb. 17-20, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For up-to-the-minute information about registration, special events, educational opportunities, hotel bookings, shuttle schedules, exhibitor floor plans, and more, visit ToyFairNY.com.     

About the North American International Toy Fair

Toy Fair is an annual event that is produced by The Toy Association Inc. The largest toy tradeshow in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair takes place each February at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. The show brings together more than 1,100 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents to showcase hundreds of thousands of toys and youth entertainment products to thousands of retail outlets from 100 countries. Visit the show’s website, ToyFairNY.com for more information.

About The Toy Association

Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™ Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $80.25 billion, and its 950-plus members drive the annual $26 billion U.S. domestic toy market.

The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play, and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play. Visit www.toyassociation.org or www.playsafe.org for more information.

Laurie Chartorynsky is the communications specialist/content developer for The Toy Association.

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