Spielwarenmesse: Interview with Haba: exploring the world with baby articles

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Interview with Haba: exploring the world with baby articles

from Harald Hemmerlein

Most parents take a closer look especially on the qualities of baby and infant toys. We talked to Michael Hopf, Managing Director Marketing and Sales HABA (Habermaaß GmbH), about decisive development stages of children and appropriate products. 

Spielwarenmesse®: Many consumers regard the design of toys for babies and infants as especially important. Is it the purchaser – as a rule the parents – who is the focus in product development or the child and his abilities?

Michael Hopf: Nicer products sell better. This fact applies to toys for babies just as it does to all other consumer goods. For the long-term success of our brand, design should follow function. So when we develop toys the focus must first and foremost be on the needs of the child. Design must not become an end in itself.

Spielwarenmesse®: Many consumers associate HABA primarily with high-value wooden toys. Are there special target groups who are particularly interested in these products?

M.H.: High-value wooden toys have been a stable feature of the market for years. The most important target group for these products is parents who are concerned about the development of their children and don’t allow themselves to be influenced by trends and marketing campaigns. This insight applies to good toys in general, not just to those made of wood.

Spielwarenmesse®: Precisely in the case of toys for babies and infants, “Educational Toy” is a label that gets a positive reaction mainly from consumers in the German-speaking countries. Is that the result of successful effort put into marketing or cultural inheritance?

M.H.: Practically all toys with an “Educational Toy” label attract attention, supported by controversial studies commissioned by a diverse range of clients. It’s not a statement that offers useful guidance. Good toys should challenge children and leave plenty of scope for them to use their imagination.

Spielwarenmesse®: We know the play needs of babies and infants remain constant over the generations. Is there nevertheless any sign of trends in the market at the moment?

M.H.: The play needs of babies and infants are determined by their abilities and stages of development, and that won’t change in a thousand years.  In recent years we’ve seen more and more electronic toys – including for babies.

It’s extremely important for children under the age of 3 to experience the world with all their senses if they are to develop healthily. Anybody with any sense knows that this experience can’t be replaced by wiping across a screen.

It’s certainly acceptable to let children over 3 play with electronic toys for a limited time, provided a balance is created.

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