Most popular children-oriented brands start their lives as traditional entertainments with fixed production cycles such as television series, films and comic books. While new characters, settings and elements within these properties are regularly introduced and then licensed for toys and other merchandise, the turnaround time could take weeks or months depending on the medium, leaving retailers and consumers hungry for something new in the interim.

For 20 years, Jillian Michaels has inspired countless people to lose weight and lead healthier, fulfilling lives through a combination of high-energy workout routines, easy-to-follow diet plans and motivational speaking. But when “The Biggest Loser” aired in 2004, contestants on the popular reality show, along with millions of viewers at home, were instantly captivated by the charismatic personal trainer. Michaels’ fame catapulted, earning her recognition as one of the leading health and wellness experts in the country.

Everybody loves puppets. Watch people of all ages at a toy store – they pick one up and make it say funny things in funny voices. That human tendency to speak through other characters is at the root of the appeal of the blockbuster app Talking Friends – which at press time was measured at more than 325 million downloads, averaging close to 1 million downloads a day.

How annoying can an orange be? Pretty endearingly annoying when it has the eyes, mouth and persona of Dane Boe­digheimer, creator of the iconic Internet phenomenon. The Annoying Orange, the most-watched comedy web series of all time, is beloved for playfully heckling other fruits, vegetables or nearby objects with puns and jokes. The appeal of Annoying Orange and his kitchen crew has been evident for the past two years, as leading brands including Nokia, Sprint and Dole have delved into marketing partnerships that reach millions of Annoying Orange fans. 

Video games have given the world some memorable characters – Nintendo’s Mario has achieved almost Mickey Mouse-like status around the globe – but aside from the plumber in the red hat, video game characters have rarely broken out to become true stars. Most gaming characters are hamstrung by their inherently limited audience, as it would be hard to imagine anyone buying bedsheets featuring the characters of the violent “Gears of War” or “Resident Evil” games. 

For retailers, getting customers in the door is the goal. The more touch points retailers can have with their customers, the more reasons customers have to visit. A New Jersey company that has been putting waste to good use can offer retailers another reason for their customers to visit – to bring in an old product for recycling.

When people think of animation, they often think of majors such as Disney, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. But after 40 years, one firm stands tallest among independent animation companies: Nelvana, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

The Indy 500 may be the most famous race in the world, but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s (IMS) consumer products team knows better than to drive around in circles. Steeped in tradition, the speedway has found a way to package both prestige and history into products that constantly appeal to new demographics. 

rmcover janfeb2016

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