Sales of Musical Products Spurred by Technology and Education
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August 2003 | Vol. II - No. 8

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Sales of Musical Products Spurred by Technology and Education

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.

Learning Journey Musical Mat

"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.

Classical Chorus

"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 music."

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 childhood."


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