Why Shopkins appeal to kids

The growing popularity of the Shopkins toy line may be rooted in the fact that it is a product that appeals to the desire of children to collect things.
Several "series," or distinct product runs, of the Shopkins toy line have been released in Canada. (CBC)

The growing popularity of the Shopkins toy line may be rooted in the fact that it is a product that appeals to a child's desire to collect things.

Shopkins are in high demand among kids this holiday season, as Canada's youngest consumers find themselves drawn to the cutesy plastic toys that are made by the Australian-owned Moose Toys.

While many parents first ask what the Shopkins are, a more interesting question may be why they have become so popular with their children.

Laura Pinto, an assistant professor in the faculty of education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said Shopkins are something that kids want to collect.

"The appeal of it is based on this idea of collecting and for a long time, we've known that children, starting from as young as age three, have a collecting instinct that psychologists have noted that peaks around the age of nine," Pinto told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning in an interview.

"The manufacturer is really tapping into that and letting kids really pursue that urge that they have to collect by going out to their local store and buying these little plastic toys."

You can hear Pinto's entire interview in the player below:

The Shopkins have had several limited "series" or distinct product runs released in Canada so far. The earlier ones have become harder for consumers to acquire as the popularity of the brand has increased.

Pinto said Moose Toys "has a reputation for making these collection-based brands."

Shopkins are a toy brand, as well as the subject of an animated web series. (CBC)

With the Shopkins toys, Pinto said the company has also made sure there are brand-related experiences for children to check out online.

"There are numerous sort-of web apps produced by Moose Toys that go with it that allow kids to simulate shopping experiences online and create shopping lists and things like that," said Pinto.

Vincent Georgie, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Windsor, said this multi-pronged marketing effort is a big part of the success of the Shopkins line as well.

"There's many points along the way online, but also off-line, so in the stores, you know, retailers are obviously selling these toys and they are nicely packaged and the whole bit," Georgie told CBC News in a telephone interview. "But these toys really exist as much online, through these videos and through the website and through other engagements that way."

With files from the CBC's Robin Brown


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