Every success story starts with a good idea. How did you come up with the idea for the Toniebox?
I saw with my own children that conventional media, such as CDs and MP3s, were not a child-friendly way to consume their content. And as I couldn‘t discover any suitable medium for them far and wide, I thought, "Then I'll just do it myself".
The uniqueness of a product is reflected in its success. What is the USP of the Toniebox?
The Toniebox combines two very important things for children: listening and playing! What’s more, the way it works completely intuitive – the whole audio system is actually designed from a child's perspective, which is why it’s so easy to get to grips with – even for the very young.
With the Toniebox, you have launched onto the market a product that has technology inside. Do you believe that new technologies and digitalisation are an opportunity for the toy industry?
The Toniebox combines haptics with digital content. The special thing is that children are not aware of the digital element. For them, the Toniebox is magic and nothing technological at all. Nevertheless, the Toniebox would be unthinkable without the sophisticated technology inside it. In general, of course, technologies and digitalisation offer the toy industry a wealth of opportunities.
Effective marketing measures are required to increase brand awareness. Which marketing activities does Boxine GmbH rely on?
We use, of course, a very broad set of marketing measures, because the Toniebox crosses into so many areas, be it B2B or B2C. We address our various target groups such as parents, children, retailers and the industry in general using various channels and measures. However, for us, it‘s always important to be authentic and to always act and communicate from within the brand.
Boxine GmbH almost has blogger potential. You are not only active on various social media platforms but also have a blog on your website. How important do you consider these modern communication measures to be?
This area in particular is extremely important for us. It’s the most immediate and emotional communication channel and one of our most significant ones, too. This is where we get into direct contact with the Tonie fans and also get incredibly fantastic feedback.
You were an exhibitor at the Spielwarenmesse®. How important is appearing at the fair for your company?
At the beginning, our main concern was to assert our presence in the market, to get to know the industry and to exchange ideas. In the meantime, the Spielwarenmesse® has become a major driver for our brand and the expansion of our network. In just a few days, we get to know the fundamentals of the industry and meet the people who are important to us.
The protective measures relating to Covid-19 have presented toy manufacturers with a number of challenges. How did Boxine deal with the situation and what measures have you taken to make the best out of the crisis?
Naturally, we have also had to deal with the impacts of coronavirus due to gaps in production and supply. But we got our bearings quite quickly and, at the beginning of the initial restrictions, we launched a campaign under, where we have provided free content such as games, colouring-in pictures, audio dramas, music and more for the Tonie fans on our site nearly every day. We have also supported the retail trade, which has been hit hard, with the campaign #meintoniehändler in order to provide at least some small financial relief.
In September 2019, you brought an investor on board. Why did you decide to take this step?
Our main concern is to position ourselves in such a way that we can achieve our major goal: we want to revolutionize children's rooms worldwide. We can see that the Tonies system is not only relevant for children's rooms in Germany, but actually throughout the world. This delights us immensely and spurs us on. In Armira Industrieholding, we have now found a partner who brings both a great deal of expertise in the field as well as passion for the product. There could hardly be anything better for this project that is so close to our hearts.
What influence does the investor have on the company and on business decisions?
A partner like Armira doesn’t invest in a company like Boxine to take the helm himself. We made a conscious decision in favour of Armira, because we are convinced that they are a partner who will be of great help to us in living and advancing our dream. Armira brings a wealth of expertise to the table, expertise we are very happy to make use of. This was also the case with the previous group of shareholders, who gave us great support in developing the Tonies and launching them onto the market. Our areas of responsibility will not change.
We’ve heard that you want to expand into the USA at the end of 2020. What goals are you pursuing in relation to this?
We’ve been in the UK and Ireland since 2018. For us, it was primarily important to set up our organisation in such a way that we can operate internationally. We’ve succeeded in doing so. Launching the Toniebox in the USA – one of the most important markets in the world – is merely the logical consequence of this. We’re very much looking forward to it.
Do you plan to expand into other countries in the next few years? If so, which countries are of particular interest to you and are, therefore, at the top of the list?
At present, "only" the USA is on our agenda, but, naturally, we’re also considering other countries.
Mr Fassbender and Mr Stahl, thank you very much for this interview.