The holiday season is upon us. What better time to describe the pros and cons of developing products for the novelty gifts industry? When I first began my career, I invented and licensed many seasonal products. If you enjoy being creative and new ideas come easily to you, this may be the perfect industry for you. Every year, companies that sell seasonal novelty gifts need new products. The turnover that takes place is constant and rapid (because obviously, seasons are short. Valentine’s Day gifts sell in February, Halloween gifts sell in October, etc.). But if you realize this and accept it, you can capitalize on it!
When I first began inventing, I licensed many of my ideas to the company Applause. They would give me fairly explicit details about the products they wanted. “Steve,” they’d ask, “We need a Valentine’s Day item that can be sold at the counter and retails for a couple dollars. What have you got for us?” I submitted my ideas in one-line descriptions; if they liked an idea, they’d move forward with it. I remember one idea they used. The line was, “Plastic arrow with suction cup and the statement ‘I’m stuck on you’”. I was paid 10,000 for that idea. It sold in a bunch of Hallmarks and the like, just for one season. There was no need for protection because it was going to sell for such a short period of time. They manufactured just enough to fill the storefronts one time (which is true of most novelty gifts). But they were always asking for more ideas, and I loved it.
If you want to cash in on the seasonal gift industry, visit stores that sell novelty gifts around the holidays now. What are they selling? Make note of what’s popular this year so you can start designing ideas for next year. The items won’t be repeated! They need to be fresh. And there needs to be a lot of them. It’s a really easy industry to jump into if you’re willing to embrace the speed. Looking to develop a product that will generate you royalty year after year? This isn’t your industry. But if you love creating new, simple ideas, then it might be.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.