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15.11.2018 // Alibaba to bring $200b of goods into China over next five years

As reported by the South China Morning Post, Alibaba Group Holding said it will help bring $200b worth of products from more than 120 countries into China over the next five years to help meet the rising demand of Chinese consumers for high-quality international goods.

 

Between 2019 and 2023, Alibaba will help import from businesses of all sizes in countries such as Germany, Japan, Australia, US, and South Korea, the Hangzhou, China-based company said in a statement.

Alibaba’s pledge for step up imports comes a day after China’s president Xi Jinping made fresh promises to open the world’s second-biggest economy to the outside world, including lowering import tariffs and broadening market access, and voiced support for economic globalization.

 

As part of its commitment to boost imports into China, Alibaba has announced a strategic partnership with privately held Hong Kong trading group Fung Retailing.

07.11.2018 // What will retailing look like in 2040?

  • Market research firm, Euromonitor International, has released a research report,  which delves into how society will be living, working, shopping and playing in 2040.

Authored by the global head of digital consumer research at Euromonitor International, Michelle Evans, the report indicates that key technology – such as the 'Internet of Things', artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality – will have significant impacts on how consumers will conduct their daily lives.

When it comes to retailing, Evans suggests that consumer values will have shifted to place more importance on experiences rather than purchases.

According to the report, consumers will – and to some degree already do – expect a personalised experience from a brand across a multitude of screens.

Evans suggests that in the past, the retail experience was transactional, but is now one about a journey and relationship building from the beginning to the end, which adds personalised value to the consumer's shopping experience.

Evans also predicts that it won't just be the change in consumer's expectations that will impact the way that they shop in 2040, but that technology will significantly impact the layout and offering that a retail store has.

According to Evans, the key features of a retail store in 2040 will be:

A change in the retail storefront

  • Retailers will be able to send alerts to consumers to notify them of new pricing, products and experiences, to an individuals wearable or voice platform.
  • Stores will have a separate entrance for those picking up online orders.

Technologically enhanced store entry and exit

  • Stores in 2040 will identify their incoming customers via facial scanning, allowing them to provide a tailored experience.
  • Payment for the product or experience will be automatically deducted when a customer leaves the store.

31.10.2018 // Toy testing facility SGS sets up new units in Vietnam and India

According to its latest statement the firm is continuing to invest and upgrade its toy testing laboratories to meet rising levels of client demand.

 

SGS, the toy testing, verification and inspection company has launched new testing capabilities in Vietnam and India.

 

SGS already has a number of testing facilities located in key manufacturing zones and transit points around the world and according to its latest statement is continuing to invest and upgrade its toy testing laboratories to meet rising levels of client demand.

In northern Vietnam, SGS’ new toy laboratory in Hai Phong is now ISO 17025 accredited by the Vietnamese accreditation body VILAS. The local team will now be able to serve the market requirements for the US, Europe, Canada, Japan, Austria, New Zealand and Vietnam.

 

Meanwhile, in India, SGS has rooted itself in Manesar to test for local and international markets. The lab holds local NABL accreditation, which has been mandatory for toys imported to India since September 2017.

SGS toy safety testing services span the EU toy directive and the US Consumer Product Safety Act.

26.10.2018 // Ranok-Creative participation at Internationale Spieltage SPIEL ’18 in Essen

Board games are irreplaceable! It is one of the ways to keep excellent relations of parents with their children. Besides they help develop logic, imagination, erudition as well as master skills of critical thinking and get skills of communicating with peers.

The most important thing in the game world is expression of a child’s personality. It is a unique and bright personality who chooses this or that game depending on what exactly the child wants to develop - fantasy or intellect, or maybe attentiveness and dexterity are more important for this child at this very moment?

One can see all the variety of modern board games at Internationale Spieltage SPIEL ’18 that takes place during 4 days from Thursday, October 25 to Sunday, October 28, 2018 in Essen. The international game days "Spiel" is the world's largest trade fair for toys and board games and offers visitors the unique opportunity to obtain full and detailed information on the complete national and international games offer. Nowhere else the whole game scene is represented as extensively as here. At this fair experiences are shared, new products are introduced on the market and new ideas and games trends are gained. The exhibitors invite you at many tables to test and play along. Entertainers show, how the games work and explain the unknown. From chess to the classic card games to children, strategy, skill and computer games everything can be found here. Even for small children the game days are a very special experience. A wide range of high quality toys are just waiting to be tested and recorded.

Ranok-Creative Company is also among the visitors of SPIEL in Essen: we enjoy it together with gamers from all over the world! Besides we are glad to inform you that you can estimate our new items, - board games at our website: http://www.ranok-creative.com/862/.

Make up your own mind to test them and feel free to buy your favourite ones!!!

 

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22.10.2018 // Toy market the Netherlands: steady demand for games & puzzles

Construction Toys, Action figures as well as games as puzzles are among the strongest performing categories in the Dutch toy market. In regard of sales channels, online shops are becoming more popular and a serious competitor for brick and mortar businesses. Get to know the Dutch toy market with some exclusive key facts.

Traditional toys in the Netherlands continue to be dominated by a select group of international manufacturers. Eight companies (LEGO, Mattel, Hasbro, MGA Entertainment, Playmobil, Ravensburger, VTech Electronics and Disney) jointly account for more of than half of total value sales in traditional toys. The biggest local manufacturers are Jumbo Nederland and 999 Games. Local companies rely mainly on their appeal in traditional games and puzzles.

LEGO owes its frontrunner status to its long-standing solid presence in the country, where it remains the undisputed leader in the important construction category.

In games and puzzles, Hasbro and Ravensburger continue to lead. The two companies pursue very different sales strategies in this category. Hasbro relies on the enduring popularity of a few classic boardgames such as Monopoly, Risk and Levensweg (The Game of Life), which target adults. Ravensburger, meanwhile, invests a great deal in games and puzzles aimed at younger children. 

Top 5 toy companies in the Netherlands; market shares in %Top 5 toy companies in the Netherlands; market shares in %

Toy licenses to gain momentum

Licensing is generally considered an increasingly important phenomenon in traditional toys in the Netherlands. It is estimated that in some categories (e.g. dress-up and role play and plush) licensed products accounted for around one third of total value. Manufacturers particularly use the publicity generated by the launches of large movie franchises to create awareness of new products and boost demand for them.

Licensed products feature prominently in construction and action figures and accessories, but also have a notable presence in others. Overall, tie-in products from international movie franchises clearly lead sales in most categories. Licensed products based on popular TV and cartoon characters play a role in products targeting younger children, however. For example, in plush toys there were licensed products from popular international and local cartoon characters such as Woezel en Pip or Dikkie Dik.

Popular toy categories

Games and puzzles is the second most important category in traditional toys. Games and puzzles maintain broad appeal as a favored traditional pastime with a wide age range of Dutch consumers. Children are encouraged to play boardgames and do puzzles to stimulate their cognitive development through play, but games are also a popular activity when families and friends get together.

Action figures and accessories is one of the best-performing categories. It benefits on the one hand from the strong presence of Playmobil in the Netherlands, with the company’s products prominently available both in large specialist store chains such as Bart Smit and leading online retailer Bol.com. On the other hand, sales are driven by newly launched products from movie licenses.

In terms of price platform, pocket money (purchases under €4.99) continued to increase its value share slightly. Dutch children generally receive pocket money from an early age. Model vehicles remained a category with a broad product selection for young boys in the pocket money segment, with various types of vehicles offered by popular brands such as SIKU.

Action figures and accessories as well as construction toys are expected to remain among the best performing categories in traditional toys. Both will benefit from the growing reliance on licensed products from popular movie franchises to generate sales momentum.

Relatively vigorous growth is expected in remote control toys. Rising sales will be driven by a growing demand among Dutch consumers for drones. Syma Toys Industrial is currently one of the leading manufacturers of toy drones in the Netherlands, and its products are prominently on sale at internet retailer Bol.com.

Distribution of toys and games in the Netherlands by format

08.10.2018 // The Millennial Generation shopper: how and why they buy toys

America’s Baby Boomers' long run as the largest generation in history has come to an end. Today, American Millenials passed the Baby Boomers with a population of 75.4 million humans compared to the Boomers who are now in second place with 74.9. That is according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pew Research Center and as reported by the Washington Post and other outlets. This generational passing of the baton is happening all over the world with profound effects on how we create, market and sell toys. Millenials, a generation that does not love cars but does love anything digital, will define the first half of the 21st century. And for that reason, they will have an outsized impact on government, society, culture and yes, the toy and play industry.

So what do Millennial shoppers want? Tanya Duawriting in her Digiday in her article, "The Mother of All Generations: 5 things Brands Should Know About Millennial Moms”, tells us that Millennial Moms "prefer brands that align with their values."The values expressed have to be organic to the brand and not an add-on. Giving a percentage of profits to charity is certainly a noble act. Yet, it does seem that this new generation of parents is far more attracted to companies that actually make their values an integral part of the product.

That is why I think that the McDonald's Corporation's choosing, a few years ago, to cease using chickens with human growth hormone or more recent decision to stop providing plastic straws are steps in the right direction. They are both active values statements that are integral in a meaningful way to how they do business. Who would have thought that the values expressed by which chickens or straws are used might be as impactful for this generation as a Big Mac was for an earlier one?

So, who in the toy and play industry has succeeded in expressing their values through their product and how it is marketed?

  • “Goldie Blox” certainly did by aggressively and endearingly espousing for girls to be engineers and engage in other hard science professions. Their products and their wonderful videos connected with girls and their parents through a cute but aggressive pushback against all things girly-girl.
  • In the same sense “Green Toys”, though much more subtly, espoused its belief in safekeeping the environment with its very name no less than its use of a trade dress and logo that expressed allegiance to the Green movement.
  • “Toca Boca”, now owned by “Spin Master”, has been a leader in kid's play by producing gender neutral, open-ended apps that are playful without being competitive. In addition, there are no ads or in-app purchases. By integrating values of no surprises for parents and silly fun for kids into their products they have connected strongly with parents and become leaders in the digital space.

Changes in marketing and taking values positions are, however not enough. Toy companies need to make changes in who they hire and how they operate. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Embrace young talent at the executive level
    Look around you and you will see that many of us are immigrants to the digital age. We speak the language but we do so with an analog accent. We “get it” in our brains, much as someone who learns to speak a foreign language, but not in our hearts.
    Today’s children and their millennial parents are digital natives and they fully intuit the way today’s children expect to play. Watch a child of two with a magazine or book. The child presses the pictures fully expecting them to open yet another picture. Their expectations and intuition are dramatically different than ours.
    In order to understand how 21st century children play, the toy industry needs to employ the best and the brightest of the millennial generation. Toy companies should be showing up on campus and recruiting.
    The young recruits will need heavy guidance; after all understanding digital doesn’t necessarily make you a good businessperson. But by injecting them, their worldview and their ideas into the toy industry work force, the industry will seed a new generation of tech savvy leaders.

  2. Embrace alternative business models
    One of the interesting developments of the digital age has been the explosion in alternative ways of making money through play. Freemiums, subscription services, micro purchases and other digital concept are in many cases confusing and non-intuitive to toy industry veterans.
    Yes, they are different but the right mixes of models integrated with the traditional bricks and mortar format is with us and will continue to change how we do business. The toy industry would therefore be wise to hire executives who have experience with digital business models.
    Importantly, they need to integrate them early into the product development process.  In today’s world of phygital and digital play, the way a product is purchased is integrated into the product itself. As a result there is no clear dividing line between product and business model. They are one.

  3. Honor the past and present
    Even though the face of play is rapidly changing, basic physical play is not just a great way to have fun but an important way to understand the physical world in which we live. A child needs to stack blocks in order to see what stays up and what falls down. A child needs to climb to the top of the sliding board in order to comprehend risk, experience exhilaration and to become brave. A child needs to play with dolls and action figures in order to play out themes of adulthood before they grow up.

The toy industry can fully embrace the 21st century by embracing its past, present and future as a whole and not as separate segments. There is no yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is just a seamless, never-ending evolution in how we play and how we sell play. Accordingly, the Millennial generation is just another in a long line of new parents, trying earnestly to figure out what toys are best for their children. The basics stay the same but the challenges are new.

So, how does the toy industry embrace Millenials and the 21st century; by recognizing that play and the business of play are in motion and having the courage to respect that we have to run to keep up and run faster to get ahead. We must, in short, climb to the top of the sliding board. The view is scary, expansive and eye opening. The trip down the slide is…well you have to actually do it to find out.

02.10.2018 // Spielwarenmesse's Toys meet Books concept fuels 41% rise in diversification

As a result, the show is now growing the concept with a greater emphasis on encouraging booksellers to look to the toy for additional sales.

Spielwarenmesse has seen a 41 per cent increase in the number of book retailers diversifying into toys, thanks to the success of its Toys meet Books concept.

The special area made its debut at the Spielwarenmesse this year with the idea of opening the world of toys to booksellers and visa versa in order to help retailers boost sales figures through diversification.

The concept has been labelled a ‘resounding success’ by the show’s organisers and as a result will be expanded upon with partnerships being extended for its next even in Nuremberg in January next year. The space set aside for the Special Area will be increased.

The area encourages manufacturers to showcase non-book articles that lend themselves to the book trade. There will be ideas implemented in order to target these booksellers more effectively.

Christian Ulrich, director of marketing at Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “We are paving the way for relevant ranges while providing valuable knowledge to assist this retailer group in the daily running of their stores.”

The Special Area is now being extended to more than 200 square meters and will widen its scope to the international market.

The Spielwarenmesse has also now secured a new media partner for the Toys meet Books area in Borsenblatt, a reputable specialist magazine for the book trade. It will also be stepping up its cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A closing statement from Spielwarenmesse read: ‘The Spielwarenmesse’s latest measures and partnerships at the Special Area Toys meet Books provide booksellers with even easier access to the toy sector.

'This gives them the chance to experience the products first hand, to find inspiration from the expert talks and to forge new and lasting contacts – all with a view to generating lucrative additional sales.’

26.09.2018 // European Day of Languages

Organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union, the European Day of Languages (the 26th of September) celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe and the importance of language learning worldwide.

The European Day of Languages is a time to celebrate the 6,000+ languages spoken around the world, promote language learning and have some multilingual fun!

 

 

21.09.2018 // Toy market India: demand for quality brands & STEM toys

In 2016, traditional toys and games in India grew by 6% and further growth is expected. The organized players are facing stiff competition from the unbranded Chinese imports which are being sold at cheaper price and thereby affecting growth. However, with more awareness of quality branded products, more promotions and new launches, the demand is slowly increasing for these brands.

In terms of buying behavior for traditional toys, there is a gradual shift towards educational toys and arts and crafts as educated parents are focusing on education through entertainment. This has resulted in the increase in the demand for STEM toys.

Pre-school and construction continued to be the fastest growing categories with value growth of 20% in 2016. Due to extensive promotional campaigns and increasing awareness in urban areas, Lego remained the top-selling brand in construction.

In terms of seasonality of traditional toys, sales remain high during the months of May and June when most of the schools are closed. It is during this period that parents take their children out and buy new toys for them to play with during the summer vacation.

In India, expensive tech toys such as drones and robots remain very niche due to the high pricing and laws and regulations on their use. In India, flying a drone comes with legal proceedings as it is compulsory for the user to obtain prior permission from the authorities to fly it. In addition, the import of drones is banned in India, limiting international manufacturers from carrying out operations in India. 

Distribution of toys and games in India by formatDistribution of toys and games in India by format

Competitive landscape

Due to the increasing awareness of branded products and the growing popularity of action figures and cartoon characters, the demand for international brands is on the rise. International licensing of toys is an important factor in the toys industry. This has led to the increasing number of international licensed products in the country. As of 2016, 6% of traditional toys and games sales were through licensed products, although the figure can reach as high as 50% in some categories, such as action figures and accessories.

All leading toys and games specialist retailers, such as Funskool India Ltd, Reliance Retail Ltd and Simba Toys India Ltd, were expanding their presence by opening more physical stores and also by listing their products in leading e-commerce websites like amazon.in and flipkart.com. Many manufacturers are also tying up with different movies to increase the sales. For instance, Simba has taken the license for Bahubali 2 whereby they launched weapons such as swords prior to the release of the movie.

The traditional toys category is expected to grow  further but it continues to be impacted by the rising number of imports from China. Many of these imports are illegal and are sold through unorganized retail at cheaper prices, thereby affecting the growth.

Small and medium toy manufacturers are struggling to survive in the industry due to the high import duty levied on the raw materials used in the manufacturing of toys. The import duty on raw materials is as high as 20%-30% compared with 5% for the import of a finished toy. As a result, finished toy imports are increasing from countries such as China, the US, and the UK, which negatively affects the growth of the local players.

Top 5 toy companies in India; market shares in %Top 5 toy companies in India; market shares in %

Licensing

The influence of the media has been playing a key role in the licensing of toys. Toy manufacturers have been benefitting from the success of shows, such as Motu Patlu, Chota Bheem and Shivay, which have been extremely popular amongst children. In addition, with the digitalization in place, children have been using different media devices such as tablets and mobile devices to watch their favorite shows and movies which has been some of the leading licensing brands.

Licensing of toys increased and this trend is expected to continue. Categories such as action figures and accessories, dolls and accessories and games and puzzles have been the major categories which generate sales in the licensing segment. Also, categories such as plush and model vehicles are expected to increase their share in the licensing space with manufacturers licensing the characters of Hollywood movies and characters.

Licensing remains a challenge for toys and games in India as counterfeit versions were widely available. Many counterfeit products from China are being imported and sold in India through e-commerce websites at a discounted rate. Despite trying to create awareness through social media and other media platforms, a lack of stringent laws is creating a hindrance to restricting the flow of counterfeit toys.


14.09.2018 // September 2018 - interesting toy events at a glance

These dates in the toy industry you should remember in September 2018!

05.09.2018 LIMA European Sports Licensing Roundtable - Germany
05.09.2018 NY Fall Networking Event: VR World - New York, United States
05.09.2018 - 06.09.2018 New Grading and New Checklist Introduction - Dongguan, China
09.09.2018 Children's Day - Costa Rica
10.09.2018 Children's Day - Honduras
11.09.2018 The UK Licensing Awards - London, United Kingdom
14.09.2018 Children's Day - Nepal
15.09.2018 - 16.09.2018 Certified Play Expert - Omaha, United States
20.09.2018 Children's Day - Austria, Germany
20.09.2018 -21.09.2018 New Grading and New Checklist Introduction - Shenzhen, China
25.09.2018 Children's Day - Netherlands
25.09.2018 - 26.09.2018 Expo Licencias y Marcas Show 2018 - Mexico

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