Toca Boca, a mobile-first kids app developer announced on Monday the company’s first collection of “category independent” consumer products for kids — including boy's and girl's apparel, accessories, toys, lunch boxes, bedding and backpacks. Merchandise will hit Target store shelves starting July 17, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The Swedish app developer has amassed a cult following for its gender inclusive digital toys over the years, and the licensing deal with Target is its first push into brick and mortar selling. The products will be sold between the girl's and boy's departments.
For Target, the licensing deal expands a move to "reimagine" its stable of brands — from licensing deals to collaborations and private label lines — Joshua Thomas, director of public relations at Target, told Retail Dive. “As we do research, we recognize we have an opportunity to explore different aesthetics in different ways," he said. "It’s not a swap for this brand for that, it’s looking at our portfolio and recognizing what those brands have done for us and seeing an opportunity to do something different and something only Target can do.”
Just last week, Target announced a major brand overhaul that will shed names like Merona and Mossimo to make room for 12 new private label lifestyle lines to roll out over the next 18 months. Beyond its own collection of private label brands, the big-box retailer is looking to license and sell a mix of trendy, digitally-native brands that already resonate with its customer base.
As outlet for Toca Boca's first foray into the consumer product world, Target continues to reinvent the kid's aisles and differentiate offerings in the highly competitive $30 billion market. Over the last several years Target has made strides to revamp its kid’s collection with the launch last year of the decor line Pillowfort, which offers many products that appeal to both genders, and now popular Cat & Jack brand, which replaced mainstay Cherokee and Circo kids labels. The program was conceptualized from consulting feedback and opinions from a range of children.
Children’s apparel is a growing category for retailers — and sought-after territory for big players like Target, Walmart, H&M, Kohl’s, Children’s Place and Gap. While Target is second to Wal-Mart among mass merchants in children’s apparel sales, according to market research firm NPD Group, it’s key to success likely lies in the kind of differentiation brought on by brands like Cat & Jack, which is approaching the $2 billion mark, Thomas said.
"[Cat & Jack] has been popular with kids and moms and dads, and as we look across assortment we have an opportunity to bring in properties that are relevant to fans that shop our stores. That’s where a line like Toca Boca comes in," Thomas said. "It’s a popular app with kids of all ages that inspires learning and imagination and the ability to carry exclusively their foray into product is exciting because it will ultimately differentiate Target to have the latest and greatest product assortment for families."
While the new items aren't specified as gender neutral, Toca Boca highlighted that the product line conveys its commitment to inclusivity. “Everything we make at Toca Boca is designed for all kids; it's our mission to make sure no kid ever feels excluded by Toca Boca,” Mathilda Engman, head of consumer products at Toca Boca said in a statement. “True to those values the collection was designed with inclusivity in mind, and we are so excited to see it will be merchandised together as a collection sitting between the boys and girls aisle of many Target stores."