THE ANNOYINGLY OBVIOUS NON-SECRET TO SECURING INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION FOR TOYS & GAMES!


After nearly 25 years of selling products into international markets, I have learnt one primary factor which dictates the success or otherwise of the sales product. And this factor has very little to do with the selling skills of the person or organisation selling the product.

I have sold some products which were a really easy sell and sold millions of units, and in a couple of instances, sold tens of millions of units. I have also sold numerous products which flopped – having gained distribution they just didn’t sell through, and I have worked on even more products which did not obtain significant distribution outside of their home market.

The observant reader should recognise here that the selling resource (i.e. myself!) did not change, and neither did the sales process. So how can the same sales process deliver massive success and complete failure?


The answer (of course) is that the variable is the product or product range. Products with a really strong commercial potential, with clear consumer appeal and an in built advantage in terms of positioning and attractiveness versus other competitive products will be far more likely to find international distribution than a me-too product or a niche product which has no clear path forward in new markets.


While this an annoyingly obvious ‘non-secret’ to securing international distribution for toys & games. But the reality is that if you have products which are a fairly hard sell in your home market, you can expect them to be a hard sell into other markets. Sometimes the solution is not to sack your Export Sales manager (!), but to relook at your product development briefs, strategies and inputs.


Those companies who have significant export sales tend to develop products with the needs of international markets in mind…


We run a Consultancy business for toy companies. We work with major toy companies through to start ups and one person bands. For more information on how we help toy companies grow their distribution around the world: https://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/blog/toy-co-growth-booster-program/


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EL CORTE INGLES: THE WORLD’S BEST TOY DEPARTMENT…?


During a recent visit to see clients in Spain, I greatly enjoyed visiting an El Corte Ingles store. Anyone who has done business in Spain or with Spanish distributors will have heard plenty about the importance of this classic department store. With a group turnover of more than €15billion p.a. (across all departments), El Corte Ingles is a major force in Spanish non-food retailing, with just under 100 stores spread across Spain & Portugal primarily.




One of the things which is most satisfying with El Corte Ingles is the sheer breadth & scope of the Toy department. In the store I visited recently, the entire top floor of a very large footprint was dedicated to toys of all categories. This is much more of a rarity now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. There is no doubt that from a global perspective, the growth in e-commerce has hit department stores as hard as any retail channels, yet in Spain & Portugal El Corte Ingles is still successful and massively committed to their toy departments at the same time.




No doubt someone somewhere will read this article and argue that another store has the best toy department, but all I can say is that El Corte Ingles appears to be offering as good a toy department as any, and long may that continue!






Our Playing At Business podcast has been going since 2018, making it one of the first podcasts focused on the toy & games business. We cover all kinds of topics related to our industry on the podcast. To find the full episode list, just click here

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/


Here's some specific episodes which are among the most listened to:


EP 78, CONSUMER PLAYTESTING: THE SECRET WEAPON OF SUCCESSFUL TOY & GAMES COMPANIES

Toy & games companies generally don't test their products enough with consumers. We all know how much testing goes into ensuring products are compliant with safety standards, but what about testing to see if they are compliant with functionality, fun and general appeal to kids & their parents?

Consumer research playtesting is the not so secret, but shamefully under-utilised weapon of toy & game companies. All the major global toy companies have extensive consumer research programs, but as we discuss in this podcast, research doesn't necessarily have to be expensive to be useful.

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/ep-78-consumer-playtesting-the-secret-weapon-of-successful-toy-games-companies


EP 72, HOW TO FIND & VALIDATE GOOD TOY FACTORIES

Toy companies (both big & small) rely heavily on the factories they work with. Every time they produce a toy your reputation and potentially your business rest on the factory & their complying with safety, ethical and quality standards. Competitive pricing is also a concern of course, manufacturing spend is the biggest cost for toy & game companies, so comparatively small savings in percentage terms can add to up to significant money.

In Episode 72 of the PLAYING AT BUSINESS podcast we take a look at how to find and then validate good reliable toy factories. We have worked with many different factories in different factories over the years, and we have introduced more than 100 toy & game companies to new factories. The things we learnt during this process are shared in this podcast.

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/ep-72-how-to-find-validate-good-toy-factories


EP 71, THE INEVITABLE RISE OF INDIA AS A TOY MANUFACTURING HUB

The toy business is moving from a single hub (China) sourcing model to a multi-hub model. India is the only other country with comparable population size, with abundant cheap production line labour and existing industrial capacity and domain expertise in plastics. There are many more reasons though why India's rise in toy manufacturing is an inevitability.

The current manufacturing solutions in India are not perfect, but as the toy business begins to clamour for ever more production capacity outside of China, only India has the potential to scale up capacity to levels like we have seen develop in China over the last 30 years or so.

More on all this in Episode 71 of the Playing At Business podcast.

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/ep-71-the-inevitable-rise-of-india-as-a-toy-manufacturing-hub


EP 68, UNDERSTANDING THE TOY MARKET IN FRANCE WITH YANN FRESNEL

France is one of Europe's 'BIG 3' toy & game markets. In this episode we speak to Yann Fresnel (of Toy Influence), who has extensive commercial experience in the French toy market. We discuss his career in toys, what companies need to understand about the market in France and also look at how his company helps with market entry in 'La Republique francaise'.

This episode contains a lot of very useful and insightful information - for example we discuss how the Games category accounts for nearly one fifth of the entire toy market in France. For more key information and tips on how to get ahead in the toy market in France, listen to this episode now!

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/ep-68-understanding-the-toy-market-in-france-with-yann-fresnel