Spielwarenmesse: Baby and Infant Articles: where quality is the main focus

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Baby and Infant Articles: where quality is the main focus

from Harald Hemmerlein

The market for baby and infant articles has its very own dynamics that is fuelled by two factors: what do the little ones need and what do the big ones need? This creates a very special area of conflict for the toy industry's value chain. This overview of the market describes the breadth of the requirements and gives you an outline of the current products on offer for babies and infants.

The best for the children

On the one hand, parents who are looking forward to welcoming a child into their lives for the very first time encounter new brands in this product group that they are not familiar with from their own childhood. And on the other, those brands that have managed to firmly establish themselves in the consciousness of consumers across the generations seem to sell their products in this segment almost effortlessly.

There is a further aspect that plays a particularly major role for young parents in this sector when it comes to weighing up the various products and deciding on what to buy: safety. Parents who are new to the job are generally more concerned about risks to their offspring's safety than old child-raising hands. This is an important factor that should be accounted for in the mix of rewards promised by a brand.

On top of that, the choice of toys as far as material, design or gender orientation are concerned, has almost become an ideology for many parents and people buying gifts – a sensitive but manageable issue for marketing pros.

In contrast, status factors don't yet play a role in this product segment – at least not with children. Peer group marketing activities are thus not needed. But things look quite different with the parents and gift-givers, though. They make quite clear lifestyle statements when they buy toys and other child-related articles for their dear offspring. Such aspects – including those dictated by changing fashions – have to be satisfied.

On the whole, therefore, the situation is quite a complicated one, and one that product developers, marketing experts and sellers come up against and continually translate into innovations, marketing campaigns and successful sales. What is happening in this segment with regard to the products?

Stimulating sensory stimulation

Robotic friends wodden bricks
Explorer bricks Robotic friends have optical and acoustic effects.

For the large group of fans of wooden toys, HABA is launching its "Discovery blocks Robotic Friends" made of beech wood. Different combinations of the 4 cm x 4 cm wooden blocks create amusing figures that look like robots. Acoustic and visual effects provide an additional incentive to play with them.

Particularly in the first few months of their lives, babies love to put everything into their mouths. That is why HABA has chosen to use silicone for its teething toys, as the material poses no hazards to health. They are easy to grasp for small children's hands, offer the senses different surface structures, relax the masticatory muscles and help with teething. On top of that, they are dishwasher safe.

Textile and plush products make up a major part of this segment's offerings. Fehn GmbH & Co. KG from Germany has its baby toys manufactured to European quality standards at two locations in Sri Lanka. The music mobile from the "Sunshine" collection is also produced there. A fluffy sheep, a cute squirrel, and a radiant sun have a calming effect and take the child to the Land of Nod with the aid of a musical mechanism that reproduces harmonious melodies at a pleasant volume.

Water is a fascinating element – even for babies. A lot manufacturers offer toys that use this element to stimulate and delight babies during bath time. The "Stack & Strain Bath Turtle" from Fisher-Price tempts toddlers to scoop and pour water. The children can stack three strainers on the back of the turtle or take them apart and fill them with water. When the water runs out, different patterns emerge.

Crazy play experiences

Child plays with Lego Duplo bricks
Lego Duplo Stories combines the brick toys with storytelling via Amazon Alexa.

The smallest children in the UK and USA can enjoy their first digital play experiences with LEGO DUPLO Stories. And it's all made possible by Amazon's Alexa. Alexa narrates stories that serve as a catalyst for imaginative games that can be enacted using the building blocks. The stories feature ten different themes that are related to existing or the new Duplo playsets. "The new LEGO DUPLO Stories Skill is one of the first Alexa skills that combine physical play with interactive audio content, allowing parents and toddlers to interactively connect stories with the building sets as they play. The voice is a very effective tool when it comes to playing. Long before we can write or operate an electronic device, we use hearing and speech to interact with each other," says James Poulter, Head of Emerging Platforms & Partnership at the LEGO Group.

RC products in the infant segment? Totally conceivable – as MGA Entertainment demonstrates with its new "Fantastic Firsts" series under the Little Tikes brand. The Spinning RC Car has an easy-to-use remote control for beginners. In addition, the car has a "360 degree function". If you press the button provided, the racing car spins wildly and the doors spring open.

Licences for the little ones

The subject of licences is also omnipresent in this product group. One example: Studio 100 Media/m4e has signed a licensing agreement with roba Baumann GmbH on behalf of the rights holder Mercis BV for the "Miffy" lifestyle brand. The multi-year agreement covers the German-speaking area. Within the framework of the cooperation, roba has developed a Miffy product line for babies and infants: it ranges from a music box to textiles such as blankets and sleeping bags, right through to beds, playpens, cradle sets and more.

Miffy the bunny is the most popular character from the books of Dick Bruna. Most of his books are about her. Children from all over the world can find themselves in her adventures: Miffy is simple, innocent, open-minded and always curious.

Small but mobile

The broad range of equipment for children is also gaining more ground in the toy trade. This also includes baby buggies that are particularly suitable for making the above-mentioned lifestyle statements of parents.

With its new LIFE+Black line, knorr-baby GmbH is aiming to appeal to "parents with a sense of class", as the company puts it. The line stands for elegance and extravagance, for luxury and dignity. The lightweight matt black aluminium frame forms an appealing visual symbiosis with its high-quality cover fabrics and cognac-coloured push handles and protective bars. Its low weight and easy handling make it suitable for everyday use. Ball bearings, front wheels that swivel through 360° and a suspension system on the rear wheels allow this baby buggy to cope with any terrain.

With its "Kwik.One" baby buggy, the baby outfitter Chicco puts the focus on practicality. It can be intuitively opened, pushed and closed quickly and using just one hand. It can stand up by itself when closed and weighs a mere 7.5 kg. The backrest can be completely laid flat.

When it comes to the safety of their children, car seats are a particularly sensitive issue for many parents. Chicco has now launched the first car seats with integrated sensors, the latter made in collaboration with Samsung. In conjunction with an app, the sensors can inform the parents that their child is still in the "Chicco OASYS 0+ UP" and "Chicco OASYS i-Size" child car seats and if that is not the case, it sends alerts in two warning levels to a smartphone.

The Spielwarenmesse® 2019 is exhibiting Baby and Infant Articles

This is, of course, just a small selection of products that exemplify the breadth and depth of the range of offers that visitors to the Spielwarenmesse can expect to come across in the Baby and Infant Articles product group in Nuremberg every year. The selection also includes baby's first picture books, along with electronic learning toys, and tableware and furniture for children. At its next event, too, the Spielwarenmesse® will once again dedicate a special area to this segment, which offers a platform to show what the many exhibitors in this segment have to offer. This special area will be spread across the entire exhibition grounds.


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Author of this article:

Harald Hemmerlein

Mentioned product groups:

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