The December treadmill

Have you watched this video of Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, doing the rounds? If not, please do so. (Don’t just read the title and switch off thinking you’ve already got the gist of what he’s going to say.)

Don’t worry, I’ve not turned anti-Christmas or anything like that. It’s December tomorrow and, I assure you, I’ll be swept up by the festive magic. What I’m talking about is the needless stress and worry usually going on behind the scenes – and it turns out, I’m not alone.

Even retailers have sensed the mood of the nation and scaled things back a bit versus last year. #EltonJohnLewis aside, there aren’t really any ‘cinematic’ masterpieces doing the rounds. (LOL at this Twitter response, by the way.)

The first time that the thought of Christmas brought me out in a cold sweat was 2014. I’d been several months into redundancy, was being anti-social, and feeling incredibly low. Then I got a Christmas job at my local department store which saved my sanity – such is the power of retail. We had a family chat agreeing to forgo presents that year and instead focus on food, games, and films. Even though I had to wake at stupid o’clock on Boxing Day to work the sales, it remains one of my favourite Christmases to date. Yes, I felt incredibly guilty about being the reason for no gifts, but taking that extra pressure away from each other was the best feeling.

It got us thinking about how we used to wait for birthdays and Christmas as children to get the treats we wished for. As adults, most of us are fortunate enough to be able to buy what we want, when we want it. So, rather than being total Scrooges and giving each other nothing, we now agree a number of gifts or a spend cap up-front to keep ourselves in check. Or, even better, we opt for event/experience tickets so as not to have to find storage space in our homes for more ‘stuff’. (The latter also doubles up as a birthday gift policy among my friends.) Happy days.

But the stress isn’t always financial. There’s also the time and thought it takes to come up with something meaningful. (We’ve all made that joke about kids being more interested in the box than the gift itself.) Sometimes, no matter how well you know someone, you just cannot figure out the right gift for them. You might come up with a fantastic idea…but then it comes in/with different colours/shapes/sizes/features and, oh my word, what would you pick if you were that person?!?! <Insert mind blown emoji here.>

Some of my colleagues will scoff at this for sure. They are skilled market researchers and know how to extract key information from people without being rumbled. You should hear the variety of conversations we have at Razor HQ. I know that our resident thoughtful present-giver, Chloë F, quietly makes a note of gift ideas all year long and springs into action when the right time comes. 

Inspired by the Fowler’s shopping skills, I made my first purchase on Instagram this year. It’s amazing what gift ideas you can pick up when scanning to see what public posts your friends have liked. It’s sneaky but it works!

Happy (stress-free, I hope) shopping! And do give us a shout if you need any ideas. We’re very good at brainstorming.



Christmas unwrapped

With Halloween and Bonfire Night well out of the way, it’s okay to start thinking about Christmas, right? In fact, it’ll be here before we know it so we might as well spur into action and see what’s cropping up on this year’s wish lists. Those in the know have placed their bets on 2018’s best seller toys. And we’ve packaged up a few of our favourite trends.

Pikmi Pops appears to be this year’s strong contender against LOL Surprise and Hatchimals Colleggtibles. These brightly coloured lollipop-style surprise balls include stickers, scented toys, accessories and lanyards.
Shopkins’ Hairdorables are a little more pricey but come with 11 surprises to unwrap before the owner discovers who their cute mini doll will be. There are 36 varieties to collect – each with different hair, outfits and accessories. There’s even a YouTube ‘Hairdorables’ channel to foster strong loyalty and fandom.

Slime mania
Anyone with kids is most likely used to having the tell-tale signs of this popular trend dotted around the house. With many kids avidly watching YouTube tutorials and making their own slime at home, parents are left to deal with slime residue on furniture and carpets.

Hamleys recently showcased Elasti Plasti in its six brightly coloured pots. The slime expands by up to 100 times, makes weird and wonderful noises, and can be blown into large bubbles. So Slime DIY Slime Factory is the ultimate do-it-yourself kit that makes neon, pastel and metallic slime along with confetti, glitter and sprinkles.

Robotics & coding
It’s never too early to get the young ones into coding. Given the attention and hype that AI gets, it’s not surprising that a few gadgets caught our eye. Botley the Coding Robot is aimed at the early years and teaches kids programming skills with stickers, coding cards and activity accessories. Boxer is a pocket size AI robot who comes with a mini remote control and tiny football. His cute facial expressions change throughout the 10 game cards.

Last, but not least, we have the BB-9E App-Enabled Droid that parents will pretend to buy for their kids but probably end up playing with themselves! It’s an updated version of last year’s droid from soon-to-be-released The Last Jedi movie and uses a smart device to control it.

Yep, this trend shows no sign of abating. Be it ride-on unicorns that have castor wheels inside the hooves for an authentic ride – or Vtech’s Myla Fantasy Unicorn that comes with a wand that changes the colour of the unicorn digitally.

But the one that really tickles us (or our toes) is a craft kit that converts a pair of stripy socks into your very own personal unicorn pet.

Licensed toys
These popular toys continue to dominate seasonal gifting but the two that stand out are both by Viacom IP: Paw Patrol’s Ultimate Fire Truck which comes with a super cool extendable ladder, and Nella The Princess Knight Talk and Sing doll which says 10 phrases and sings the program’s theme tune.

Both toys are popular with pre-schoolers.

Old school role play
Some things never go out of fashion – like toys designed to encourage role play. Mini kitchens and supermarkets have always been popular but we love this fancy option by Waitrose which also helps build brand familiarity at a young age.

Aspiring mechanics and engineers will enjoy the Bosch Toy Workbench which comes packed with tools, accessories, and sound effects for realistic play. Brilliant for kids to play together and boost their social skills. Playmobil City Life Wedding Limo is somewhat traditional with its limo containing a bride, groom, and a driver. It comes with flowers, champagne and glasses, a tin can trail and veil. It says that the bride cannot fit into the driver’s seat so, if there is a runaway bride scenario, at least the driver will come in handy!

Razor Kids is our specialist kids and family research unit. We turn chatter into commercial insight.

To find out how we can help your brand, get in touch with #LesleyRazor or #ChloeBRazor.
020 3865 1075