17.05.2018 // Embroidered Shirt Day
On the 17th of May in 2018 Ukrainians celebrate the International Vyshyvanka Day (Embroidered Shirt Day). This wonderful feast does not have the fixed date. It is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of May.
In many towns and villages of Ukraine demonstration, parades, festivals, and concerts are be held. The social media will be filled with photos of people wearing diverse embroidery shirts of all color palettes and national embroidery patterns.
In recent years vyshyvanka has become not only a national symbol and traditional cloth but also a trendy accessory. Embroidered shirts and dresses look chic and festive and can suit almost any occasion.
On the day of the feast, people wear embroidered shirts when they go to work, universities, schools, and kindergartens.
Vyshyvanka is the symbol of national unity
People of different ages and social positions took part in the event. The feast is not bound to any political or religious events. It is aimed to remind Ukrainians about their heritage and revive folk traditions.
It is important to note that the celebration of this holiday has gone beyond the borders of Ukraine and is international. People from all over the world wear embroidered shirts and these people are not only emigrants and their descendants but also many other people who simply love Ukraine.
Vyshyvanka then and now. Fashion dawn
The vyshyvanka itself has a thousand-year history. Embroidered shirts were given from one generation to another along with the secrets of embroidering. Girls from an early age were taught the art of embroidery. In the Õ²Õ century, Ivan Franko (Ukrainian writer and poet) began to wear vyshyvanka together with a jacket drawing attention with an unusual combination and making it popular. In 1876 Olena Pchilka published an album of Ukrainian embroidered shirts. After that in Europe the boom of Ukrainian embroidery began, and in Ukraine first scientific studies of embroidery started.
Apart from symbolizing national unity, vyshyvanka also carries many other meanings. Each region of Ukraine has peculiar patterns, embroidery techniques, and color sets with specific meanings. Since olden times embroidered shirts were not simply clothing but some kind of talismans. They were gifted at birth, weddings and other important events in life. The symbols depicted in the embroidered patterns protect from any troubles and diseases.
Nowadays vyshyvanky are worn both by children and adults. There are shirts sewn following all traditional canons, shirts with hand embroidery as well as modernly stylized embroidery.
In the last years, the flash mob was supported by such popular companies as Google (many of its workers are persons of Ukrainian descent).
Today the fragments of the Ukrainian embroidery are used by many popular designers among which are Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Gucci, Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana, and more.
Meanings of embroidery ornaments
In the Ukrainian embroidery, there are three types of ornaments: geometric, herbal, and zoomorphic.
The embroidered flame signs have been traditionally considered to be masculine – a grate in the form of a rhomb, the signs of the sun with rays and dots.
The straight lines in the form of earth signs have been the symbol of the feminine. The signs of water in the form of spirals and waves were also used.
Poppy seeds were embroidered as protection against evil because this flower symbolizes procreation. Poppy seeds also were war flowers. If in the family a man was killed during the fighting, his wife embroidered the shirt with red poppy seeds.
Married women dressed in shirts with embroidered snowball trees. Because this tree is the symbol of maternity and immortality of nation.
Shirts with the pattern of hop were worn by young men since hop is the symbol of revel, love, and youth.
The embroidered grapes on the white shirt symbolized joy and welfare in the family life.
How it all started?
The feast of the Embroidered Shirt Day is very young. It is generally believed that the founder of this holiday is Lesia Voroniuk, the student of the National University named after Yurii Fedkovych in Ñhernivtsi town. This girl has laid the foundation for the feast that quickly won the favor of many Ukrainian men and women. Her group mate who appeared at lectures in embroidered national shirts inspired the girl. She proposed students and professors to choose a special day and wear vyshyvanky and they willingly supported her. In time, the tradition to wear embroidered clothes expanded beyond the university to different schools, collages, and other institutes, and later embraced the whole country. Gradually the members of Ukrainian Diaspora and followers of ethnic Ukrainian culture supported this novelty and made this holiday international.
Today millions of people all over the world wear vyshyvanky. And the International Vyshyvanka Day is an excellent occasion to go outside wearing ethnical clothes to feel national cohesion and join eternal traditions of Ukrainian ancestors.
15.05.2018 // International Day of Families
The International Day of Families, annually held on May 15, celebrates the importance of families and the work started during the International Year of Families.
What Do People Do?
A wide range of events are organized at local, national and international levels. These include: workshops, seminars and policy meeting for public officials; exhibitions and organized discussions to raise awareness of the annual theme; educational sessions for children and young people; and the launch of campaigns for public policies to strengthen and support family units. In some countries, tool kits are created to help people organize celebrations aimed at a particular section of the population, such as school children or young adults.
The International Day of Families is a global observance and not a public holiday.
The year 1994 was proclaimed as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was a response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the globe. The International Day of Families, on May 15, is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994 and to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.
The symbol of the International Day of Families consists of a solid green circle with an image in red. The image consists of elements of simple drawings of a heart and a house. This indicates that families are the center of society and provide a stable and supporting home for people of all ages>.
10.05.2018 // Starting up: Questionnaire for toy industry founders
Starting up: Questionnaire for toy industry founders
The toy industry is incredibly varied – offering a fantastic playing field for new ideas and surprising start-ups. But entrepreneurs cannot act quite as freely as it might appear at first glance. Other than the usual business obstacles, very special challenges loom for founders in the colourful world of toys.
The product idea: Function and design
Many roads lead to the industry. The journey often begins with a very specific product idea inspired by day-to-day contact with children. However, anyone wanting to take one single product idea as the basis to form a company should first put it to the acid test:
Is the product idea really new?
What functions does the product require to be child- and market-friendly?
Can the idea be expanded into a product series or family?
What design is needed to succeed?
Are the product’s contents digital in nature, or should it be expandable by digital applications?
The toy industry is undergoing upheaval, like most other consumer goods industries: Digital contents are increasing in importance. This can become very challenging for established market participants. For new entrants, however, the change can also hold out the promise of a road not yet travelled.
A business idea then grows out of this product innovation. However, before the founder or the founding team registers their business, they should turn the focus not only to the product, but to the general conditions as well.
The market study: Market and target group
Thorough examination of the market, the target group, and demand is essential. But in the absence of industry knowledge, this is nowhere near as trivial as it might seem. Like the target group, sales channels are quite heterogenous and differ significantly depending upon the product. So important questions are:
Who should buy the product?
What age range and pocketbook am I appealing to?
Where do the potential product idea users shop?
Based on this, a thorough review of the existing market in the segment identified can be undertaken.
The business plan: Time and money
Many founders underestimate the timing and financial demands of their venture. It is thus important at a very early phase of formation to set oneself a “pain threshold”:
What are my strengths as an entrepreneur; where do I need help?
How much time am I ready to invest?
How much capital would I like to invest; how much is available to me until I start earning money?
When do I have to break even so that my continued effort pays off – and what factors do I consider in order to determine such point of break-even?
What do I do if I do not reach this goal?
Do I need a loan, and what security do I have so that I can obtain a loan?
What support is out there for my start-up?
Not a few start-ups fail at the level of self-analysis, since the input needed exceeds available time or capital.
The network: Industry experts and sales partners
The be-all and end-all for a successful brand is a dedicated network of industry experts, sales partners, suppliers and customers. In retail, especially, one must know the right people and understand what makes them tick. Only then can business be transacted successfully together. So, founders must ask themselves:
Which key people do I already know? Where can I get to know them?
What are the most important events held by the market participants and open to me?
What advisory bodies are there for me generally as a founder and in the industry?
How do I find the right sales channels for my product which will ensure the success of my industry launch?
Patience is needed – along with vigorous and active participation and presence at network meetings. If competent experts are there to help, they might be able to open doors or give valuable advice on what to avoid.
Toy safety: Standards and safety tests
Something else that all too often comes to light too late are the safety requirements to which the founder’s invention are subject:
For example, does the product comply with the rigid limits of the European Standard for Toy Safety Testing, DIN-EN71?
Is the toy at all marketable?
Is Europe the sole sales market, or should markets outside of Europe be targeted?
What standards apply there and must be considered from the start in product design?
What are the institutes for product testing? Which are positioned internationally, if the product is to be marketed on different continents?
IP: Copyright and industrial property rights
As soon as a founder goes public with a product idea, there is the possibility of its being copied. An entrepreneur must therefore consider from the start how to protect an idea. Key questions for self-analysis here are:
What kinds of protection are there in which markets?
Who helps with protection?
Can the principle upon which the invention is based be protected?
Do protective rights of competitors underlie parts of the invention?
Since these kinds of questions are very complex and often very difficult to answer for newcomers, it is wise to avail oneself of expert knowledge
27.04.2018 // Toy packaging: latest trends
Toy packaging is impacting the purchase decision more than ever. The importance of its design is almost equal to the product itself. With that in mind, specific trends should also be considered when developing new packaging. In this article, there is a review of some of the latest trends and innovation strategies toy companies can take into account in order to improve the appeal of their products through their packaging.
A great opportunity arises when thinking about adding a component of play. There are different ways to do so. For instance, the manufacturer designs the packaging customizable. At the latest Spielwarenmesse®, Nici presented the collection My Nici Pets in a packaging shaped as a dog house that can be personalized by the child painting on it.
The key is to invent the packaging as a part of the play experience, a part of the toy or game. To name some examples, Djeco has done it beautifully with products such as Lunch Time or Breakfast Time with boxes that convert into tables. Janod racing grand Prix or Haba Dragon Diego Dart are other toys that use the packaging to enhance the game. At the latest toy fair the designs by Moulin Roty were very appealing. Find enclosed some pictures of their elaborate packaging and how they are using it as part of the plaything.
Moulin Roty, Spielwarenmesse®
This packaging has other added benefits. One very important aspect for families is the possibility to keep the toys organized better. Another, with a bigger impact on society as a whole, is the increase in the amount of time the packaging is in use. From something that is usually thrown away immediately, to a thing that can be used as long as the toy itself.
No doubt, surprise toys in blind packaging are a big trend right now in the toy industry. Companies are immensely innovating the way a toy is revealed, making the unpacking process a big part of the fun. There is certainly a demand for this exciting experience. For instance, the Shopkings Lil’ secrets this year in the stores. The kid has to scratch the packaging to get a code and unlock it to get the shopking inside. Also Crate creatures surprise! by MGA Entertainment, 4 monsters that come with a crate in which the child can pull their tongues to get fun and gross noises and unleash them again and again.
Another relevant trend in packaging design is minimalism, a trend heavily influenced by technology companies such as Apple. This concept usually translates in simple but classy designs. In most cases, there is no written information but a high quality image of the product, usually on a white background. Frequently, the packaging is designed to highlight the product See for example, the products from companies such as Dëna or Moluk. In others, the focus is actually on how to use the product, for instance Denster by Kidesing or Tattoos by Longji.
Obviously, we all know the packaging is a container that is used as a marketing tool. But the message here is that it can also be so much more! We can use packaging trends such as the ones that are presented in this article to get innovative ideas and improve our opportunities to engage the current buyer and player.
26.04.2018 // The profitable ‘kidults’ market
Kidults market continues to grow as adults spend £383m on toys for themselves in 2017, says NPD
The profitable ‘kidults’ market is continuing to grow as new data reveals that adults spent £383 million on toys for themselves in 2017.
According to the NPD, the kidult market has grown by eight per cent in value over the course of last year and now amounts to 11 per cent of the total toy sector; a rise of £30 million in value since 2016.
To put that in to context, £1 in every £9 spent on toys today is adult buying toys for themselves.
The latest results results from the toy industry tracking group reveal that millennials account for almost half (48 per cent) of the spend among grown ups buying toys for themselves, while Generation X-ers account for 28 per cent and Boomers account for 24 per cent.
Among the millennials market, 62 per cent of the money spent on toys for adults is by young parents. Another four in 10 (38 per cent) are not yet into parenthood and many of this young group are fans of pop-culture, expressing their fandom by buying toys.
It’s been discovered that men are more likely than women to buy toys for themselves, especially as they grow older. They represent 55 per cent of millennials spend on toys, but it rises to two thirds (66 per cent) of Generation X-ers and 70 per cent of Boomers.
The categories where the kidult trend is most prominent are games and puzzles (19 per cent of sales), building sets (15 per cent of sales), action figures (12 per cent of sales) and dolls (11 per cent).
Frederique Tutt, global industry analyst, toys, NPD, said: “The wide variety in the toys adults are buying for themselves reveals the many reasons older people buy toys: from playing board games with adult friends to building sophisticated models, drones and robots.
“And the collectable market has expanded beyond the timeless classics of dolls, plush and action figures to include pop culture models. Rather than a nostalgic trend, I’d say much of this is providing an escape from the stresses and strains of modern day living, fulfilling our need to find down-time.
“The rowing kidult trend shows that where manufacturers and retailers can understand and meet the evolving needs of their audiences, they can grow sales in a very competitive and fast-paced sector. That is equally true whether your brand enjoys a strong heritage or features the very latest cool pop culture figure.”
20.04.2018 // Instagram takes a bigger piece of the ecommerce pie
The Instagram shoppable post feature has now extended to eight more countries; the France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Spain and Canada. As a result, etailers in these countries can now use transactional links within their Instagram posts directed to their shops.
Facebook owns Instagram and it currently has around 800m customers. They introduced this in the U.S. in 2017 by allowing the creation of special transactional accounts without having to pay a contribution to Facebook. With around 25% of Instagram users visiting more than one business page every day this clearly provides a potentially lucrative new sales channel.
Additionally, the, “Shopping on Instagram,” feature is a self-service tool now provided that lets marketers tag up to 5 products per image, or 20 products per carousel, in the same way that friends would normally be tagged in photos. These shopping give customers immediate access to product details and pricing within their Instagram feeds and they can also use the, “Shop,” tab on business profiles.
12.04.2018 // Toys in the Easter basket
Easter gifts increasingly resemble Christmas gifts. More and more children are being given toys and outdoor playthings for Easter. This trend is particularly noticeable in Germany.
Carnival season is hardly over before retailers turn their attention to the Easter trade again. Sales are especially good in the retail sector in the two weeks leading up to Easter. Sales of toys in particular have increased in recent years, creating serious competition for the confectionery industry. Around EUR 200 million is now spent in the toy industry for Easter. This amounts to 10% of annual turnover.
More and more toys in the Easter basket
While Easter baskets used to be mainly filled with Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits and other confectionery items, children are now increasingly likely to be gifted toys. According to a survey carried out by the myToys online shop in April 2014, parents are spending an average of EUR 45 on Easter gifts for their children, EUR 34 of which is going on toys. The German Association of the Toy Industry (DVSI) has reported that nowhere in Europe are so many toys gifted for Easter as in Germany. Many manufacturers have already come up with toys specifically for Easter or at least given their toys an Easter twist. For example, there is a Playmobil Easter Egg, Majorette hides toy cars in colourful Easter eggs and many children’s books with Easter stories can be found on the shelves.
Outdoor products as the ideal Easter gift
Besides classics such as puzzles and games, the Easter Bunny also brings lots of toys for outdoor play, e.g. swings, bikes, scooters, sports toys, balls and sand pit tools. These also get children looking forward to when they can spend lots of time outside.
Marketing for Easter
Easter is an especially popular time for creative email marketing campaigns. In the B2C area in particular, toys can be promoted using fresh, springtime colours. Easter discounts and specials also attract customers into brick-and-mortar and online stores. But Easter mailings pointing out the added value of cooperation can also be a useful tool in the B2B area. Particularly exclusive download offers or links to studies are a good choice. Of course, there has to be a recognisable link to the Easter holidays. However, mailings should be sent early enough as customers are probably already on holiday by the time Holy Week begins.
05.04.2018 // Local Commerce: Internet showroom for the retail trade
How local marketplaces on the web make it easier for traditional retailers to venture into e-commerce.
eBay has discovered the brick and mortar retail trade for itself: the online marketplace launched the "local & digital" city initiative in Germany in 2017. The german cities Diepholz and Mönchengladbach started as pilot project, now Velbert is ready and waiting. eBay started a media partnership with the Funke Mediengruppe as go between to the local retailers and the city of Velbert. Retailers who set up an online presence can use the eBay basis shop free of charge and an exclusive expert advice. Retailers can advertise their new online shops with different advertising specials.
Starting an online shop with eBay’s help
The goal: eBay wants to help retailers digitise their business - and naturally, bring more activity to its marketplace. After all, according to an eBay study, only one in three retailers in Germany sell their products also on the Internet, meaning there is still plenty of potential to expand one’s product range. At the heart of the initiative is a so-called city platform where cities can secure their individual presence on eBay. Participating cities are given an URL which features the name of the town: www.eBay-city.de/CITY NAME. Participating retailers can place their products online for sale. eBay also offers a range of services, such as training seminars for brick and mortar retailers.
eBay has marketplaces in Italy and Germany
The project was preceded by a pilot with Mönchengladbach, a German city with a population of around 260,000. Overall, between autumn 2015 and summer 2017 and according to eBay, the 79 participating retailers sold over 160,000 articles with a total value of ˆ 6.7 million, supplying their goods to 84 different countries. In the medium run, a minimum 30 cities from the whole of Germany are to be brought online with their own eBay presence.
An international roll-out of the initiative, according to eBay, is currently not as such in the pipeline but e-commerce experts are firmly counting on it. Once before, around five years ago, eBay initiated a similar project in Italy, even if humanitarian reasons were to the fore back then. Following a severe earthquake in the L’Aquila region, eBay created a platform in support of the local economy. And successfully so: sales of participating retailers increased by 435 percent within five years (2010 to 2015).
Marketplace providers all over the world
Yet eBay is by far not the only platform operator trying to lure brick and mortar retailers with local initiatives to the World Wide Web. Many countries have marketplace providers by now who see themselves as an Internet showroom for brick and mortar retailers - key word: Local Commerce. Examples of this include Curbside in the USA and SoCloz in France, Shoepping.at in Austria, Kaloka in Switzerland or Locafox and Atalanda in Germany.
The concept of those local marketplaces is similar to that of eBay: Cities are given a dedicated page on the marketplace which bundles the offers that local retailers place online. The providers have also created apps for mobile users. Just as for any customary online purchase, customers can buy products online and have them delivered, but they can also ask for the products to be reserved and collect them from the retailer on location. Same Day Delivery is equally part of the services available on many platforms.
Making use of the RoPo effect
Marketplace operators want to specifically make use of the RoPo effect (Research Online, Purchase Offline). After all, many customers prepare their buys online, but do not necessarily click on "Order". Surveys have shown that one in four consumers make their buying decision online, but end up buying on location. Other studies suggest that almost half of all purchases made on location were prepared online.
Brick and mortar retailers can also bank on the RoPo effect using Google - and this is free of charge: The alpha search engine and its Google My Business functionality give brick and mortar retailers the opportunity to create an account for their business. Next to the address, opening hours and contact information, it is also possible to add pictures - of the shop, its personnel, but also of products. These examples show: The Internet is becoming local, and the brick and mortar trade can benefit from this..
30.03.2018 // Play Creators Festival expands offering with Student Conference
The event, hosted by Mojo Nation in association with the BTHA is introducing a new conference for toys and games designers.
Mojo Nation's Play Creators Festival is expanding with Mojo Student Conference, held in association with the BTHA.
The conference aims to encourage more product design students to take up careers in the toy and game sector, with talks on such topics as toy design, game development, creativity, working with brands.
The conference will also feature a ‘How We Made It’ roundtable with the heads of R&D at some of the world’s top toy firms, as well as the launch of the Student Design Challenge, an exciting competition open to students on product design degrees.
The celebration of toy and game design is already playing host to the Toy & Game Design Conference and the Mojo Pitch across September 10th and 11th at the Emirates Stadium.
The Student Conference will be held at London's Design Museum on September 12th.
“Since launching Mojo, one of our key objectives has been to help usher new blood into this space, and so we’re delighted to be able add this third day to this year’s Play Creators Festival,” said Mojo Nation co-founder, Billy Langsworthy.
“We hope our Student Conference can help more graduates embrace toy and game design as a potential career path, and I encourage anyone in the industry who wants to work closer with students, either via internships, guest lecturing or graduate schemes, to come along to the event to engage with this exciting crop of fresh design talent.”
“The BTHA and its members have always taken pride in supporting new emerging designers and innovation in the industry through our Design Student Seminar at Toy Fair,” added Rebecca Deeming, public relations manager at the BTHA.
“We’re delighted to be a part of the Student Conference and join Mojo Nation in supporting even more young designers considering the industry as a future career destination, as they learn more about the exciting world of toy design.’
22.03.2018 // 5 Key steps for starting a toy business.
Start-up companies keep the toy industry fresh. One of the most rewarding things to observe is seeing a start-up toy company attend toy fair, and then grow year by year until the company is a fully fledged established toy company. Needless to say though, there are significantly more companies that fall by the wayside than become successful.
There are several key steps in making a successful start-up toy company. The checklist below helps all movers and shakers planning to start or in the middle of starting a toy company:
People wanting to get into the toy business often ask what they should research before they start…and the answer is everything! A really robust research phase is so important. You could argue that many innovators just invented something new or cool, or reworked an existing idea, but you can’t count on hitting the mark with that approach. How can it hurt to understand the retail market place, the current trends, what kids are doing/how they spend their time etc?
2. Feedback and sense check
One fact is that that the vast majority of new product inventors/wannabee toy companies that have already developed a product missed something fundamental about kids, about the toy business or retail etc. Most of new products from toy industry outsiders are obviously flawed in some way which could easily have been addressed if feedback had been obtained before they developed the product!
The most successful toy people are great at getting feedback or sense checking their ideas and product concepts before investing their money in a product.
3. Innovation and origination
There are many ways to develop ideas and concepts: True originality vs tweaking the formula.
If you are trying to invent something nobody has ever seen anything like before, the chances are you are not inventing something likely to be commercially successful. There are certain formulae for concepts, themes, play patterns etc. The true creatives out there may disagree, but a new twist on an established formula is much more likely to succeed.
In the end toys are supposed to be fun. Good new concepts enhance the fun factor. Seems like an obvious point, but there are hundreds of very clever product concepts which do something beneficial or clever, but are not fun. Children are driven by simpler need states than adults. The easiest way to make something appeal to kids is to make it fun!
In built marketing concept
Often the most successful concepts have an in-built marketing mechanism or/word of mouth driver.
4. Sell, sell, sell
Often new toy companies get really perplexed by all the details of the toy business i.e. manufacturing, safety standards etc. The reality is none does matter if you don’t ever sell any product.
Everything relies upon the sales process, and while you need to do enough work to have a viable product concept, the reality is that even the biggest toy companies do not fully develop and manufacture products until they have sold it.
There are two realities of the sales process in the toy business:
Successful companies get highly skilled and effective at selling based on a prototype or mock up.
Selling is 1% inspiration and 99% grind. It takes constant grinding effort to achieve any sales in the toy business. The annual selling cycle takes an age, and the progress made per cycle is limited, so to succeed in toys you need to be able to grind away day after day, year after year. If your company doesn’t do that you are very unlikely to succeed. There are very few short cuts, and no magic tricks. Even if you use a distributor model you still need to first recruit the distributors and then sell to them… and they see hundreds or even thousands of products per year.
Realistic timelines are important. Sorry for disappointing all those companies who expect everything to happen in a few months or even just one year – it won’t! The minimum time to establish a new toy company in one market would be ca 3 years, even with money to invest & hiring toy industry insiders. If you are an outsider with no experience, why would it be any quicker…?
Expect a 3-5 year journey to get anywhere in the toy business!
5. Nurture & Deliver!
The toy industry is a relatively small industry. Those companies who think they can burn and pillage in order to make a quick buck don’t tend to last very long. You will need to keep selling to the same customers year after year, so your success is completely tied to their success. Don’t for one second make the mistake of thinking therefore that you should give them everything they ask for, but you do need to do enough to ensure they invite you back to pitch your product range for the next selling cycle!
Broader relationships are really important in the toy industry, because you see the same faces year after year, and as you go around each country in the world, there are only so many options for distribution partners or retail in each market. Burning bridges therefore is a silly thing to do!
Focus on the key factor for success
There are of course other factors or areas which are important when seeking to establish a start-up toy company, but these 5 factors are key. The most important factor to focus on is: Sell, Sell, Sell! Since nothing much happens until you persuade someone to buy from you. Even those successful companies developing really cool ‘must have’ products tend to be just as effective at selling as they are at developing the next big thing.