Peter Brunner: When I started out, the specialist retail trade and business with automakers were essentially equally important to manufacturers of miniatures. Today, the specialist retail trade accounts for approx. 80% of our business base at Schuco. Given its extremely low margins and sharp decline in unit quantities, the industrial business with current vehicles is hardly a factor for us anymore. Over the last 30 years, we have also grown older, together with our customers and collectors. On average, our collectors now fall into the over-50 age bracket.
Are today’s collectors also different to those from the heyday of the automobile?
P.B.: Back then, customers were often in their mid-thirties with an established career and a family and could slowly afford to realise their childhood dreams on a miniature scale. Many of these collectors are still active, but have grown much older. We need to get a new, younger clientele interested in model cars.
And what are people collecting nowadays in these times of Dieselgate and defeat devices?
P.B.: Classic cars from the fifties, sixties and seventies are still big collectors’ items. We are seeing more and more youngtimers, or future classics, as well. Farm vehicles also represent an extremely important, standalone collectors’ segment for us.
Model train manufacturers have been focusing on getting “back to their roots” for years. They believe that men aged 40 and older might take up the hobby again. What is the theory underpinning the discourse in your area?
P.B.: We are seeing the youngtimers from the eighties and nineties slowly establishing themselves as collectibles. The market is attempting to appeal to a younger clientele with these models and new products lines tailored to much younger target groups.
You’ve said it yourself. Schuco was a major toy brand, but now seems to be a collectible brand. Do you not have to give even further consideration to attracting younger enthusiasts?
P.B.: By introducing the Schuco Edition 1:64 with a price point of just under 10 euros, we have been trying for a good three years to appeal to younger customers. This “father-and-son scale” is slowly becoming increasingly popular in Germany as well. We are also considering introducing Schuco offerings for the very young. In any event, our absolute aim is to win over younger customer groups again through “younger” products.
Schuco’s presentation at the Spielwarenmesse was relatively modest, with just under 200 new products. Others showcased five times as many. Who is going to pay for all of these; who has so much shelf space?