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Dolls Dominate First Christmas Top 10 of Russia's Favourite Toys

Global brands and home-produced hobbies slug it out for the top slot in Detsky Mir's list of the Most-Longed-For.

Photo: Enchantimals: The huggable human-animal hybrids that Russian kids love slightly more than Barbie.
Enchantimals: The huggable human-animal hybrids that Russian kids love slightly more than Barbie.
Photo: Enchantimals: The huggable human-animal hybrids that Russian kids love slightly more than Barbie.
Enchantimals: The huggable human-animal hybrids that Russian kids love slightly more than Barbie.

For the first time, a top 10 of the toys and games Russia's junior consumers most hope to see under their Christmas trees has been compiled by one of the sector's leading retail chains – Detsky Mir. The 50-year-old business, Russia's largest and longest-established toy retailer, has drawn on year-end sales data from its 525 outlets to create the listing, an initiative it now sees as becoming a staple of its pre-Christmas promotional initiatives.

While many of the toys that make the Russian top 10 – the Barbie dolls and the Nerf brand of foam-firing rifles for instance – wouldn't be out of place on similar league tables focusing on the wish lists of US kids or their West European counterparts, a couple of entries do highlight the peculiarities of the local market. In addition, even a cursory review of the provenance of several of the most highly-ranked items allows the purchasing criteria, as well as the promotional efficacy of various media, to be easily reverse-engineered. The full list of the top 10 can be found in the table below.

Table: Russia’s Top Ten Toy Sales for Christmas 2018
Table: Russia’s Top Ten Toy Sales for Christmas 2018

With four of the 10 top-selling items one form of doll or another, it's perhaps significant that the lesser-known Czech-manufactured Demi Star range has outperformed many of the global best-sellers, with Barbie, Sparkle Girlz and Enchantimals all enjoying a far higher profile beyond Russia. The secret of Demi Star's success, though, may lie in the fact that its dolls are all very much frill-free, conventional toys, as comparted to the more worldly sophistication offered by Barbie, though this US icon still commands a considerable presence in the Russian market. The fact that a Demi Star doll retails for about US$2.50 in Russia – about a quarter of the cost of a standard Barbie – probably hasn't harmed sales either.

Among the boys' toys, Kreiss, Hot Wheels, Rastar and Nerf all enjoy a high profile on Russian TV, either through advertising, programme sponsorships, as the stars of an animated adventure series or, not infrequently, a mixture of all three. Their popularity very much underlines the power of broadcast content when targeting this demographic, with part of its efficacy down to the fact many toy end-users have yet to graduate to the distractions of social media or even YouTube.

Nestling at the foot of the table, the inclusion of Zvezda is an interesting one. Founded in 1990, the Moscow-based business has long been well-known in Russia but, of late, it has leveraged a variety of e-commerce channels to drive demand further afield. Perhaps contrary to expectations, while its domestic sales are dominated by orders for US / British tanks and military aircraft, its overseas buyers are solely interested in historic Russian vehicles and planes.

In another, perhaps significant, aside, it's notable that while construction sets take the overall number five slot, it's as a generic. While Lego, the international market leader, has a solid fan base in Russia, young consumers still seem drawn more by the appeal of individually-themed kits and sets rather than having loyalty to any particular brand. The promiscuous nature of construction kit fans, then, might be well worth bearing in mind for any Hong Kong-based business looking to target Russia's largely recession-proof toys and games market.

Leonid Orlov, Moscow Consultant

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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