Tag Archives: toy factory

F Is For Fun, Frisbee & Factories

F Is For Fun, Frisbee & Factories

FUN

There are many complicated reasons why there is a toy business which is worth only a little under $100 billion globally. But the start point for explaining the size of the toy industry is that children (and adults) love to have FUN! Children are more hedonistic than adults with less concern for implications and responsibilities, therefore toy products which offer them a lot of fun will be very appealing! There are many developmental benefits of playing with toys, and these are quite often used to persuade parents to buy toys they don’t really want to buy for their kids. Developing fine motor skills, dexterity, visual observation, co-ordination, communication skills – all of these are positively enhanced by playing with toys, but it is usually a mistake to forget that toys are all about FUN!

 

FRISBEE

This iconic outdoor toy has a fundamental appeal based on something people love to do – throw and catch objects. With Frisbee though, the aerodynamic design/shape allows even children to throw the ‘disc’ further than they would be able to throw some objects, and even more compelling is the ability to develop skills to throw the Frisbee with fade, curl or even to make the Frisbee return to the thrower. Many a Frisbee experience involves a skilled player teasing the catcher with a fade away throw which appears to be catchable, but in the end just sneaks away due to the skill of the thrower. According to Wikipedia, there was a flying disc product on the market in 1937, but the brand name Frisbee first surfaced in 1957 associated with a product sold by Wham-O, who to this day still sell Frisbee. Total Frisbee sales to date are reported to be in excess of 100 million units, which is phenomenal. Generation after generation have enjoyed playing with Frisbee, and despite all the technological developments society has seen since 1957, this simple but hugely compelling toy is just as much fun as ever!

 

FACTORIES

Not the most exciting end of the toy business, but nevertheless, without factories we would have no toys to sell. There is a saying that ‘Innovation dies on the factory floor’, which is quite a negative perspective, but the reality is that a good idea is no good if it cannot be produced. The toy manufacturing landscape is a few years into a shift from China being the dominant toy manufacturing hub to more of a multi-hub situation with India, Vietnam & other Asian countries picking up toy production, alongside some ‘Near shoring’. Many in the toy business presume that China has always been the place for toy production, but if you speak to the old timers in the business, they will tell you of a time before China’s rise, when they sourced from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan & other hubs. Regardless of where the toy factory is based though, a good factory protects the factory workers, complies with all regulations for countries they are supplying and of course manufactures toys at competitive costs in what is a very price driven industry.

 

(N.B. F would also be for Furby, but we already covered that in the previous article in this series, see that article here: https://www.toyindustryjournal.com/e-is-for-etch-a-sketch-elmo-electronics-a-z-of-the-toy-business/

 

Do you need help to understand the toy & game business? We help people from all around the world to understand and successfully enter the toy business. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

 

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

 

5 Must Haves For Toy Factories

Toy manufacturing is a critical part of what we do in the toy business, but because it is boring compared to new product development or less glamorous than glitzy awards and agency lunches, many toy companies fail to pay manufacturing enough attention.

We came up with 5 must haves for any toy factory your company works with:

Certifications – it should go without saying that many retailers will insist on ethical audit certification for factories e.g. ICTI, SEDEX etc. Other certifications which may be needed/which show a certain level of standards attained in the toy business would include Walmart or Disney certification. Normally most established toy factories will have an ISO certification also.

Established customer base – why would you ever want to be a factory’s first customer? New factories have to set up and then refine a bewildering array of processes, procedures and staff training. Why would you ever choose to take on such an unproven supplier, when there is no shortage of established toy factories out there? Unless your business model is to set up captive factories to focus on only your business (in which case, you would tend to start from scratch so you can set things up the way you are used to working) there is a lot of risk in working with an untried supplier. The first question asked should be which toy companies are you already supplying? If the answer doesn’t include a number of long standing established toy companies, then you are likely to be taking the factory on a learning curve at the expense of efficient and trouble free supply!

Matching Core Competence – if your main product lines are small metal cars, why would you work with a factory that supplies primarily large plastic items? Will they have the skills and capability to be a reliable and cost effective supplier? Possibly not! Your factory may be sub contracting production somewhere else, which is all well and good, but they will be adding a margin to the price you pay, so beware of over paying to a factory that has no core competence in the product area you are concerned with.

Competitive and Future Proofed Pricing – pricing is such a factor normally in toy companies moving production from one factory to another. Pricing is of course really important – when c. 30-35% of your sales value is in manufacturing, a few %age points saved can soon add up to big amounts of money. The challenge though is that many toy companies are attracted by ‘golden hello’ pricing, which then creeps up, either on the initial product lines or on subsequent product lines, due to either cut-throat pricing upfront to start the trading relationship or because of genuine cost inflation. If you are considering moving production at the time of writing, the best approach to future proofing pricing for toys is to consider alternative manufacturing regions with lower labour costs for your toy sourcing vs China e.g. Vietnam or India.

Matching Volume Aspirations – factories vary from huge plants set up to churn out massive volumes to smaller plants supplying lower quantities of really high quality products. One of the key considerations for a toy or board game company looking for new manufacturing is matching likely demand with the level of supply which is motivating for the factory. If your business is too small for a larger factory, focus will go elsewhere and you will be unsatisfied with the level of service/focus you get. If you take big volume business to a factory not set up to handle your volume you can run short of supply if they cannot meet demand.

Finding and selecting new toy and board game factories can be very time consuming and risky. We can help, via www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services we work with toy and board game companies to find cost effective factories. We also work on a consultancy retainer basis with a limited number of tried and trusted factories to help them grow their businesses, for more information on how we can help, just drop us a line.