top of page

Toy Sourcing has become a fairly straightforward process over the last couple of decades with a number of factories in China becoming the core suppliers to most toy companies. In many ways it would be a much simpler world if things stayed as they were with China remaining the dominant hub with strong efficiency, capacity and capability. Alas things are changing, with major stock market toy companies like Hasbro & Spin Master announcing to the markets that they are now sourcing c. 50% of their production from outside China in places such as Vietnam, India, Indonesia & some other countries.

A couple of years back we released a video looking at the changing situation in China & the world beyond. You can check out that video here:

Recently the Toy Association asked us to relook at the topic of Toy Sourcing & how the next 10 years could pan out from here a few years on from the last time we looked at this topic. This snappily titled White Paper can be downloaded here:


If you have any issues downloading the White Paper, please message me & I will share with you. The White Paper covers the following topics:

  1. Where we’ve come from – China & access to abundant cheap labor.

  2. Challenge with Sourcing in China today – worker shortage, high labor costs & other risks

  3. Alternative Sourcing Hubs: Realities, Potential, Risks & Opportunities.

  4. Moving From A Primary Toy Manufacturing Hub To A Multi-Hub Situation

  5. Is Nearshoring The Big Solution We Are Looking For?

  6. Toy Manufacturing In The Long Term

Again, in case you missed the link you can download the White Paper here:

If you’re interested in the topic of Toy Sourcing, you may find our last Linked In Newsletter #9 interesting: IS INDIA THE ‘NEXT CHINA’ FOR TOY MANUFACTURING? In this newsletter we take a closer look at the Toy Manufacturing sector in India and profile India's leading Toy Factory group - MICRO PLASTICS PVT LTD

If you want to read previous editions of this Linked In Newsletter, you can access here:


After a buoyant couple of years in which the toy & game business soared, despite, or perhaps because of a global pandemic, 2022 is turning into a tough year for many businesses and for the industry as a whole.

Cost of living crises are rolling around the world caused by higher inflation than we have seen in most western economies since the 1970s. As a result, we seem to be heading into unknown territory whereby even toy sales have a tough time. This is something most of us haven’t really experienced. Even during the global financial crisis, things were more difficult than before in our business, but more for reasons of finance and the general pressure our retailers were under. Retail sell through was not catastrophic during the financial crisis of the late noughties. Global toy sales stayed more or less the same throughout this period and returned back to single digit growth by 2010 based on some old reports I dug out of my archives recently.

Normally the toy business is famously recession resistant, but that’s based on recession i.e. an economic contraction. But most of us haven’t worked in an environment where inflation erodes consumer disposable spending in a stealthy way like is happening right now. It’s one thing to be buying toys for your children when things are tight financially speaking, but when the more fundamental human needs are so much more costly than we are used to, if a parent has to decide between keeping their children warm, feeding them or buying them toys, then the toys will come a distant 3rd. This is why I believe that we could see the first major regression in the value of the global toy market (in real terms) of most of our working lifetime in 2022.

So, the question is where should we be focusing our efforts in the light of the tough times we are living through? Which products should we proceed with for 2023 and beyond? Which products should get more of our marketing spend and sales team focus?

Clearly, it’s difficult to answer that product specifically for every toy & game business, but there are some key factors to consider based on what happened during the global financial crisis when toy companies battened down the hatches:

1. Lower price points – there is a clear risk of consumers ‘trading down’ i.e. buying toys for their kids still but buying cheaper lower spec products instead of the more expensive ones they may have bought previously. The one fundamental decision to make for toy & games companies now is do we have the correct balance of price points in our product portfolio for these difficult times? One positive feature that came out of the global financial crisis was that the major toy companies who had generally paid less attention to lower priced toys really embraced the collectibles categories which have been some of the most vibrant over the last 10 to 15 years. It could well be time to focus on some lower cost toys & games for the next couple of sales cycles.

2. Consider cancelling any speculative products in development – most toy & game businesses have been through tough cycles before and understand what type of products to develop in general perfectly well. This though may not be the best time to launch that new really out there concept that your creative team are really keen on. This is more a time to focus on stable, dependable product formulae…unless you are so sure of your major new initiative and have the ‘minerals’ to put your money where your mouth is and to invest heavily in marketing to drive sales at a time when many companies will cut marketing spend.

3. Focus marketing spend on sure bets – retailers don’t normally like taking inventory risks, but in a climate like this when inventory is hanging around retail like a stale old sandwich, your customers will need persuasion to make stock commitments. Regardless of where you are spending, if you spend (comparatively big) to drive retail sell through despite considerable consumer resistance then you are more likely to sell in and to maintain sales revenues as close to previous as possible. In these tough times, marketing can really work and give you competitive advantage versus competitors who reduce their marketing budgets.

4. Known brands – another reality we need to face in the current climate is that struggling consumers and struggling retailers buy known brands that they trust. This may be licensed products, it may be your own already established brands, but this may not be a prudent time to launch completely new IP.

5. Brilliantly compelling products can sell regardless of the above rules! – Hasbro launched various new iterations of Furby during the tail end of the financial crisis last time around at prices above $50 and topped the charts. The boom in kids’ tablets launched by Vtech, Leapfrog & KD Group also happened towards the tail end of the financial crisis. The reality though of course is that Hasbro & the tablet companies invested heavily in marketing to get these more expensive products to sell.

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:

For more articles & insights on the toy and games business, sign up here for our free e-newsletter sent straight to your inbox:

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We have more than 80 episodes live covering many different topics relating to the business of toys & games, find out more here:

When you work in the toy & game business all day, every day, you can get somewhat removed from the reality of how our end consumers (i.e. parents & their kids) regard and interact with our product output.

The consumer reality today is that most toys represent in effect a ‘throwaway’ purchase…despite, or maybe because of all the retailer pressure on keeping prices low, toys & games don’t represent a purchase of much significance in most cases. Something really high end like a $700 Lego Millennium Falcon toy would be a very considerable purchase, but the vast majority of toy sales are $30 retail price or less.

Children can form strong emotional bonds with toys, and these bonds can remain for life. Often classic toy brands get passed on from one generation to the next because of this strong emotional attachment and nostalgia. But the vast majority of toys are forgotten by the child quite soon after receipt.

I have written often before about the concept of ‘Toy Stockpiling’ whereby children collect literally hundreds of toys through their childhood, and by the time they are getting to the age of moving past toys, they probably have a bedroom full of toys and games, they may also have a playroom in the house also full of toys & games.

So we have to be realistic about our expectations of consumers when it comes to our products. You may give a child some valuable developmental support. You may help them to learn how to interpret and interact with the world around them, and you should also bring a child at least a fleeting moment of joy and entertainment. But you are unlikely to be delivering anything truly earth shattering, and as such we should focus on delivering compelling concepts and properly functional toys which are safe to use instead of trying to be too clever and intellectual.

Critically we should also understand that as much as we complicate things, our end consumer is in the end much simpler than we are, and their interaction with our products is often fleeting and shallow. Many times I have seen through the power of consumer playtesting that it is more important to get kids to react to your products both conceptually and in terms of functionality than it is to sit in our ‘ivory tower’ offices pontificating about features, what our retail customers think of the product and where we can afford to cut costs to get the product to market. The answers to so many of our product development and sales conundrums can be answered by testing the toys with the end consumer.

As we enter a period where we see more pressure on consumer spending through the holiday season than we have been used to we may well find that the secret to developing commercially successful products is to ensure they are validated in advance of mass manufacturing by our end consumer on their own terms.

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:

For more articles & insights on the toy and games business, sign up here for our free e-newsletter sent straight to your inbox:

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We have more than 80 episodes live covering many different topics relating to the business of toys & games, find out more here:

Home: Blog2
Home: About Me
bottom of page