In 2001, when I was at hospital waiting for my first child to be born, my husband had purchased the book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire, to keep himself calm while waiting. The doctors induced labour on day 1 at 10:00 a.m., and on day 2 at 10:00 p.m. my daughter was finally born. My husband had plenty of time to read the entire book – 636 pages – and despite my love for Harry Potter, I was a little frustrated because the book had so much of his attention that he paid very little attention to me even when I was screaming in pain! But I bear J.K. Rowling no ill will. It was, after all, a great book; and over the years the entire family went on to read all the books one by one and to see the movies, all together.
Why am I reliving this moment? It came to mind while working with my team on a press release that focused on the success of Harry Potter in the UK ahead of the launch of the Wizards Unite augmented reality app (because it is, after all, a great British success story). I also found myself perusing NPD’s global sales data to better understand Harry Potter’s appeal outside of Great Britain, and stumbled upon some interesting facts, which I’ll share with you.
Over the 12 months ending April 2018, Harry Potter ranked as the #79 toy license in the 13 global toy markets (G13) we track at NPD. Fast forward one year, and Harry Potter has climbed from #79 to #7, with retail sales topping $340 million (USD) in the 12 months ending April 2019. By the look of things, it’s not going to lose its lustre any time soon.
The largest markets for Harry Potter toys are U.S. and UK, though UK actually has double its fair share of Harry Potter sales (16 per cent of G13 sales versus its normal share of 8 per cent).
In the U.S., the gains over the 12 months ending April 2019 makes Harry Potter the second largest toy license gain in the market behind Jurassic World, which, by the way, had a movie (Harry Potter did not); and the top 10 best-selling Harry Potter toys in the U.S. over the same time period (toys from LEGO, Mattel, KANO, JAKKS Pacific, and Maxx Marketing) were all new products that launched in the last 12 months.
So why are we seeing an increase in Harry Potter toy sales? I believe this resurgence has been driven by a lot of new products driving old fans as well as an entire new generation of fans into the magical world of Harry Potter for the 20th anniversary of the release of the first book. On top of that over the last few weeks, the hype surrounding the imminent launch of Wizards Unite – whose released date has finally been disclosed as this Friday, 21st June – has contributed to drive toy sales. Whatever the reason(s), there’s no question that Harry Potter is going to continue casting its spell across the globe for years to come; and since I don’t plan on having another baby any time soon, I won’t mind if my husband’s imagination is once again captured by anything from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.