Trends tend to come in waves. Scoubiloop (ToyShow)— plastic strands that can be transformed into jewelry, animals or whatever a kid's heart desires — sparked a craze in Europe (where it is known as Scoubidou), and recently made a splash in the U.S. market. David Zysblat, the exclusive importer of Scoubiloop," expects 2006 to be huge" for products like his, and he will be selling several new products, including more Glitter Scoubiloop (popular with the tween set) and Glow-in-the-Dark Scoubiloop, and an instructional booklet on characters and designs that can be made using the plastic strands.
|"I see a lot of parents and girls interested in crafts that can be done in groups at parties." — Laura Torres, writer of children's DIY project books
Friendship crafts are an excellent marketing tool, in and of themselves, because making these is so often a social activity, shared during slumber and birthday parties, with friends and with families looking to spend quality time away from the television.
Manufacturers, capitalizing on the social nature of these activities, are packaging new products in pairs, such as Creativity For Kids/Faber-Castell's Bitty Bobble Duo Kit, and A Princess Crowns Kit.
Girls can decorate and create together. Lisa Ritchey, public relations manager, claims, "We have heard from retailers that many of the Creativity Kits are purchased as birthday party or small group kits, so we decided to include more than one item in many of these kits."
The rewards and outcomes of these activities are often unexpected. Zysblat claims that he barely even needs to market his product, since most of it comes from word-of-mouth. He has seen a lot of demand from special-needs schools that use the activities to help children to improve their hand-eye coordination. Organizations such as Girl Scouts purchase these products to build relationships, or to help foster creativity and teamwork.
Although friendship crafts are primarily viewed as a feminine activity, there are signs that boys are beginning to see the appeal of these wonderfully inventive and creative toys. Zysblat believes that the boys like the Glow-in-the-Dark Scoubiloop, and often will attach their creations to their cell phones. Action Products Inc., which carries the Curiosity Kits line, has even created a Macrame Sports Bands kit to market directly to boys.
Kimberly Ruhge, brand director for Action Products, notes, "All of our items aim toward allowing children to personalize their items, express themselves, free their imagination and explore the world around them with curiosity and the basic fun of crafts." Among their top sellers are Macrame Friendship Bracelets, Macrame Sports Bands and Super Dooper Charms, which continue to sell well.
Laura Torres, one of the most popular writers of children's DIY project books such as "Beads: A Book of Ideas and Instructions" and "Friendship Bracelets," observed, "I see a lot of parents and girls interested in crafts that can be done in groups at parties. I started a whole new business, wholeparties.com, creating craft-centered birthday party kits because of the feedback I got while doing crafts at different book signings. I heard over and over, 'Oh, this would be perfect for your slumber party!' People are looking for wholesome, inexpensive and creative things to engage their kids. And the kids love it."
Manufacturers and retailers alike expect that these trends will continue in popularity in 2006, and perhaps even expand their customer base. Boys are being welcomed into the fold; organizations such as Girl Scouts are responsive and parents are receptive to the idea of individuality, creativity and activity, combined in a neat package.