Spielwarenmesse: Interview Simba Dickie Group: Parents buying more toys for babies

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Interview Simba Dickie Group: Parents buying more toys for babies

from Harald Hemmerlein

Parents and relatives are gladly spending a little more on the next generation. The high demand for toys for babies and infants pleases both manufacturers and retailers. But the demands of parents vary. Manufacturers and toy retailers need to know their target audience in order to successfully bring the right products to market. Werner Lenzner, Manager Licensing and Strategic Development, gives us an insight into how the Simba Dickie Group succeeds in doing so.

Spielwarenmesse®: Licences are playing an increasingly important role also in the baby and infant segment. This does not really make immediate sense because babies are not yet aware of any licensed products. Shall they be introduced to brands and licensed products as early as possible in life? Or is it the givers who are particularly susceptible to successful licensed products in this segment?

Werner Lenzner: Licenced products for baby toys are targeted at the buyers, whether parents, grandparents, relatives or friends. So licences appeal to the givers and not babies, although the cute motifs do appeal to them, too. Many of the licensed properties in the baby and infant segment are classics, which givers are often familiar with from their own childhood. This is also reflected in the marketing. For example, Simba Toys' advert for the "Goodnight Winnie" was specifically geared to adults, especially mothers.

The playing needs and development tasks in infancy are the same in all cultures. Do you nevertheless perceive differences in the various regions in terms of demand and product design?

WL: There are definitely differences in the preferences of consumers, as regards colour, materials or the products per se. There are also considerable differences with regard to how many different toys a baby gets. German consumers are much more reserved in this respect than, say, the French.

Generally, one can say that northern Europeans tend to go more for natural materials such as wood and textiles, while more plastic items are purchased in southern Europe and the UK. The Simba Dickie Group, for example, focuses more on the baby products from Smoby Toys in southern Europe, whereas in Germany and northern Europe we are increasingly selling more baby products from BIG, Eichhorn and Heros.

The suppliers in this segment have managed not to let the declines in the birth rate in many markets feed through to the sales of their products. This can only mean that more revenue is being generated per child. How is this possible?

W.L .: That's exactly right. Declining birth rates have had no negative impact on sales in the baby segment. On the one hand, the product range has been increased, on the other, babies are getting more toys than in the past. Online shopping has also contributed to this since it makes it easier for parents of small children to buy toys.

What trends do you see in the field of product development? Will electronic components continue to become increasingly important?

WL: The trend in the baby toys segment is also towards more electronic toys. Parents today have a different attitude to electronics than the previous generation. The technical developments in the adult world are reflected in this. People are much more used to handling electronics these days.

Nevertheless, conventional toys are very important for the development of infants and cannot be replaced by electronics. It is particularly in the sensory and motor areas that children need completely traditional toys with no electronics.

When it comes to the things parents first buy for their child's bedroom, a lot of very different consumer types are evident. Some nurseries look more natural and conservative. Others are gaudier and decked out in lurid pink or light blue. How does your company deal with these different types?

WL: The extensive product portfolio of the Simba Dickie Group has something for every taste. We have a broad range in the baby and infant segment in particular: from wooden rattles to soft toys for babies, the French design of the Cotoons from Smoby Toys or the baby product lines from Simba Toys and BIG with bolder colour schemes.

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Author of this article:

Harald Hemmerlein

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