Spielwarenmesse: Why traditional toys for babies and infants are very popular

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Why traditional toys for babies and infants are very popular

from Harald Hemmerlein

It's not just on account of the rising birth rates that the market for baby and toddler toys is continuously on the rise. The amount of money that parents and other gift-givers spend on items for babies and children is also increasing. We spoke to Michael Hopf, Managing Director Marketing and Sales of Habermaaß GmbH (HABA), about a booming market segment of the industry.

Spielwarenmesse®: Birth rates are on the rise in many countries. This should also please the manufacturers of toys for babies and toddlers. Is this also being reflected in HABA's sales figures?

Michael Hopf: The market for baby and toddler toys has seen continuous growth for years now. Rising birth rates are not the only reason for this. People are also investing more in their offspring. In the first three years of life, it's the parents who make the decisions. That's why toys are the first choice in this age range. This changes very quickly when the children start to make decisions themselves.

Developmental psychologists tell us that people all around the globe explore the world about them in a similarly playful way. But do you still see any differences in the various regions as far as product preferences and consumer behaviour are concerned?

M.H.: This is part of human nature and won't change in the future either. There are, of course, cultural differences with regard to what significance toys have in development. It's also basically possible to explore the world playfully without the use of toys. There's a broad span in-between. In Asia, preferences, even in the baby and toddler sector, are based on learning; in France, on the other hand, on pure emotion.

Digitisation has also reached the baby and toddler age group. Will even HABA offer more flashing lights, sounds and interaction?

M.H.: Up until now, digitisation in the baby and toddler age range has not been a great success, as is also backed up by the global market data. HABA will also be offering interactive toys that flash lights and make sounds, as long as it doesn't become an end in itself. Toddlers should first experience the world as it is – three-dimensionally and with all their senses. Digital toys and games presuppose that children can abstract what they've learnt. That's why it's important to not take the second step before the first.

We are convinced that traditional toys will continue to play a major role for children under the age of three, although the word "traditional" should not be interpreted as dull and unfashionable, but must be adapted to suit prevailing tastes. For older children, digital toys are an interesting addition, one that offers new possibilities and which will gain in importance.

Romantic educational ideals have been wafting through middle class living rooms and nurseries for centuries. "Naturalness" is one of the key concerns of the ever more prominent, middle-class educational style. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this particular group forms HABA's core target group. How do you successfully approach this critical group of customers with regard to advertising?

M.H.: Naturalness and focusing on the essential have nothing in common with romantic educational ideals, but are timelessly correct and thus also successful. Thus we are not focusing on a restricted target group, but we are developing products from all materials, which win customers over on account of their function, design, quality and safety.

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Author of this article:

Harald Hemmerlein

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