August 26, 2021
With school-age children returning to classrooms, many parents are looking for solutions for edutainment and other activities for their preschoolers. And this is no small market – there are 24.5 million children under the age of six in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With many parents continuing to work from home, there remains a robust demand for products and services that will entertain and help educate their little ones. Here are a few of them:
Touting itself as the No. 1 supplier of electronic learning toys from infancy through toddler and preschool globally, VTech Holdings Ltd. (Tii:VTKLF) recently announced a new slate of products designed to educate and entertain the younger kids. Among its new products is the KidiZoom Smartwatch DX3; the KidiBuzz 3, a kid-friendly smart device reminiscent of a cell phone; and the KidiZoom PrintCam, which lets kids instantly take and print out black-and-white images. The company also offers the LeapFrog Academy, which provides a curriculum featuring learning games, activities, videos and eBooks that blend traditional school subjects like math, reading/writing and science, with creativity, problem-solving and social-emotional skills.
With brands that include Nerf, My Little Pony, Transformers, Play-Doh, Baby Alive, and scores of others, Hasbro (Tii:HAS) has long been a favorite among young children. Through its 2019 acquisition of production company Entertainment One for $3.8 billion, the global toy and entertainment company added beloved global preschool brands Peppa Pig and PJ Masks to its vast portfolio. Hasbro, whose revenues climbed 54% for its second quarter, expects revenue to increase at a double-digit pace and position it for profitable growth this year.
Rival toymaker Mattel Inc. (Tii:MAT) also oversees an impressive portfolio of brands for the preschooler, including Barbie, American Girl, Thomas & Friends, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price and many others. The company, which was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators, recently unveiled its Thomas & Friends Friendship Set. This set was designed to help preschoolers build socio-emotional skills like caring for others, being brave, and showing kindness. Each set includes five trains that come with tips and activities to assist parents and caregivers with a smooth back-to-school transition for their little ones. On the animated front, Mattel is returning to Eternia with a reboot of its popular 1980s Masters of the Universe franchise. Set to premiere on Netflix on September 16, Masters of the Universe: Revelation will, unsurprisingly, coincide with the launch of a robust lineup of redesigned action figures.
Though favored with kids of all ages for its theme parks, films, toys and just about everything else, The Walt Disney Company (Tii:DIS) also has a strong lineup of edutainment programs for young children. Among them is Disney Educational Productions, which produces classroom media and e-learning tools for families and educators who have at least one student with a disability. These programs are designed to enhance learning and unlock student creativity. In addition, the company’s Disney’s Safety Smart Science series of educational DVDs feature Bill Nye the Science Guy, showing how Underwriters Laboratories tests products to keep us safe.
There has always been a strong demand for products and services that are fun and educational for preschoolers. And that demand has perhaps never been more robust, with an estimated 42% of the labor force working from home. Expect these and other companies to continue innovating to capture a piece of this massive market.