Author: Guest Blogger

COMMENTARY: An Important Step for Play: Mattel’s “Dads Who Play Barbie”

by James Zahn It’s incredible how much things can change in what seems, on one hand, to be a few short years, but on another, the result of decades of struggle. As my wife and I celebrate our eighth year of parenting, it’s hard to believe that I, as the father of two girls, have already spent the better part of a decade invested not only in the development of two beautiful human beings, but also in carrying a torch for play. I’ve long held the opinion that we’ve often bent “rules” that shouldn’t have existed in the first...

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China Toy and Kids Expo 2016 Issues a Challenge to International Brands

More exhibition space, more exhibitors, and more visitors: China Kids and Toy Expo is growing fast, just like Chinese population and its needs. With the new two-child policy, effective from January 1st, 2016, and the middle class growing its revenue, there’s more room for international brands. Are they ready to take up the challenge? by Laila Caroli, contributor to the Italian trade magazine Il Giornale dell’Infanzia, BCMI member The China Kids and Toy Expo, held from Oct. 19 to 21, 2016 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, set new benchmarks in terms of visitors and international participation. The show had 65,467 attendes from 130 countries and regions, and nearly 500 international brands from 20 countries and regions (up 30 percent compared to the year prior). Covering an area of 155,000 square meters, more than 1,700 exhibitors introduced 3,000 brands in 7,000 booths. The expo was co-organized by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association (CTJPA), celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and Koelnmesse. The show is much more than just a fair. Each year, the hosts hold various activities such as special displays, meetings, awarding ceremonies, round-table discussions, and matchmaking sessions so that both exhibitors and visitors have opportunities to promote their products or share information about the industry. “CTJPA has a significant role in the introduction of new safety regulations and new technologies, and this event has become...

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The Five Mistakes You’re Making with Your Product Packaging

By Richard Carlow and Eugenia Chen, founding directors, C2C Studio You have a cool brand, an innovative toy, and a great logo—but is that enough? Packaging, when done right, is what draws the consumer’s attention. It makes an emotional connection with a child or parent and motivates them to buy. During our 20 years of combined service, we have seen a lot of mistakes made by companies in their product packaging. It is easy to eliminate these common errors, which can have detrimental effects on the launch of a new product. Here are five common mistakes to look out for: 1. Following a Basic Packaging Template Manufacturers often produce packaging that follows a basic template. Rarely is there a custom design behind the package matching the brand’s identity, which would enhance the value of the product. These generic packaging templates don’t allow the uniqueness of the company to be represented in the market, rendering the products indistinguishable from other products on-shelf. Manufacturers use basic templates because they are a fast and cost-effective way to get products out the door and into stores, but a basic package design will not sell your product. It will cause your item to fade into the background of mass products in any major retailer. 2. Not Thinking About Your Audience Do not forget this golden rule: Always think about whom you are talking to....

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WIT Member Spotlight: Anne Marie Kehoe

by Genna Rosenberg, Principal at GennComm & WIT Executive Board Member Whether you call them wonder women, girl heroes, girls action stars, or girls with power, each corner of the toy industry is filled with powerful women knocking down barriers, pushing through walls, and empowering those around them. They support, promote, and inspire each other through connections, purpose, and empowerment. Providing opportunities to women economically is smart business, and no one knows that better than this industry’s own superhero, Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president, toys at Walmart and recipient of the 2016 Women in Toys Retailer of the Year Award. She is a real-life action hero in the toy world, committed to providing opportunities for women-owned businesses at Walmart. The Toy Book recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kehoe and discuss the role women are playing in the toy industry, Walmart’s commitment to source from women-owned companies, and what it’s like to be a bonafide Wonder Woman. Why is it important for Walmart to source from women-owned businesses? The short answer is that empowering women economically is smart business. Our women’s empowerment work is a step forward in our commitment to help people live better and a defining issue for our business and the world. For Walmart, empowering women helps us better understand and serve our customers, find the best talent, and promote economic growth in the communities...

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Talkin’ Toys: Yvolution

The Toy Book caught up with Thomas O’Connell, Global CEO, Yvolution. Tell us about Yvolution’s background and how the company was founded. I began selling scooters all around Ireland when I was 21 and, in the 10 years after that, I had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the toy industry. When I first spotted the Fliker, our three-wheeled scooter, I knew it was radically different from anything else in the marketplace and looked insanely cool. I got in touch with the maker and it wasn’t long before they gave me global distribution rights. Then, in 2012, I co-founded Yvolution with Shane Connaughton and soon after, the Fliker hit shelves at Toys “R” Us in the U.S. and sold out. These days, we’re continuing to design and manufacture cutting-edge products to keep families active and healthy. From balance bikes to performance scooters, we’re leading the pack in innovative outdoor toys that benefit overall well-being. What kind of growth has Yvolution seen since its inception? In 2013, we had a 4-foot space in Toys “R” Us and this year we are up to 32 feet, and we’re also in all major retailers. In fact, we are in more than 12,000 stores in the U.S. market, and our products are available in more than 50 countries worldwide. We are growing at an accelerated rate rarely seen in the...

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