From its beginnings as a textile scraps seller in 1923, Hasbro has purchased several companies over the years which would deliver brand names known throughout the world, such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Nerf and Tonka trucks. Today, toy producer Hasbro is best known for its Transformers and G.I. Joe toys as well as the many licenses it makes toys for, such as Marvel Legends and Star Wars.
Although kids are not playing or asking for toys to the same extent they used to a decade ago, Hasbro's diversified portfolio in toys and games will probably help the company transform itself into a pure intellectual property licensor and rely less on the volatile and competitive world of toys.
Hasbro has done over the years a better job than arch-competitor Mattel into creating viable intellectual properties based on its toy lines. Although originally action figures for boys, both the Transformers and GI. Joe have become incredible contents-laden properties for Hasbro. Each has been adapted to books, comics, films and games countless times. Although all of these ventures were always promoted to create markets for the toys, they have crossed into the popular cultural world.
In comparison, Mattel has two strong brands that have existed outside of toys but not had as much sustained cultural impact. Barbie for Mattel is probably the company's ticket to hit the Disney-owned girl market while He-Man, although reintroduced a decade ago has not continued on. In the 1980s, He-Man was probably as popular as the Transformers, but botched animated series and toy lines have diminished this once great line.
Pure games, such as Monopoly are Hasbro's ace in the hole, or digital markets like mobile gaming. Monopoly and Scrabble are easily portable to a new format on phones and tablets. Their brand recognition is strong enough to attract a solid consumer following.
Yet, for all its assets, Hasbro does not seem like a juggernaut in the new markets its brand should dominate. It always feels like Monopoly and Transformers, when played on a mobile device, are grafted and not at ease. Perhaps it's time the company asked itself if it's a maker of petroleum goods, with all the risks and costs involved or if it's the creator of original properties that resonate with a wide audience.