Sales of Musical Products Spurred by
Technology and Education
By Paul A. Paterson
Over the last 10 years, more toy makers have sought to incorporate music
into the play experience. As research continues to show a link between
music and improved cognitive development in children -- the so-called
”Mozart Effect” -- parents are on the lookout for musical products.
Genius Products ($7.99)
"The whole Mozart effect thing has created a lot of chatter,"
agrees Larry Balaban, executive vice president of marketing and production
for Genius Products. "Our position has been straightforward:
We believe music has an impact on kids whether it be dancing or singing."
One component of this industry involves sales of musical instruments
geared to young children -- child sized guitars, drums, xylophones and
the like. In 2001, consumers spent an estimated $81 million on musical
instruments according to figures published by the Toy Industry
Association. The figure was up from the $27 million spent in
1993 for the same category.
The other side is toys that have musical features, a sector that has
shown enormous growth in terms of available products. This expansion continues
to push the envelope for the musical toys market.
"The market is going to get larger for both, but we're going to
have to come up with something new," notes Kristin Campbell, former
sales manager for The Learning Journey (ToyDirectory).
"For a while, our [musical] mat was something new, but now there's
a lot of mats out there."
At least part of the credit for this development goes to advancements
in microchips. Thanks to these high-tech improvements, toys now have the
capability to produce better quality sounds and more diverse musical selections.
Dana Marciniak, public relations assistant at Fisher-Price Inc.,
believes this has made at least one key change in the new products.
"It has changed the way music is presented in toys," says Marciniak.
"For example, Fisher-Price’s Musical Tick Tock Clock (1962)
played ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ as the clock tick-tocked to the beat. It
used a traditional music box component. Today, our Classical Chorus
line for infants uses a computer chip to engage baby with sounds of classical
Campbell believes the march of technology is crucial to developing the
next generation of toys. "As technology advances, so can the toys,"
she says. "I know with our products it's very important."
Early research into the Mozart effect credited improvements in mathematical
and cognitive learning to more traditional classical music. With complex
studies and analysis citing brain-function research, Campbell believes
the explanation really boils down to some simple concepts. "Music
is always going to be a huge aspect [of learning]," she says. "If
you sing something you learn it faster."
Today, new products are likely to incorporate more contemporary music
into the experience--a sign of the ascendence
of artists such as Beatles to the equal of classical composers as
baby boomers--now grandparents--continue to reshape the consumer market.
At Fisher Price, the emphasis is on the more traditional styles. "Our
toys don’t focus on the ‘popular’ songs of the time, but instead, we focus
on traditional children’s songs and well-known classical pieces,"
explains Marciniak. "Parents continue to want their children to learn
traditional songs with simple lyrics – the same songs they remember from