Foreign toy companies eye growing Indian market

June 30th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) The Rs.35 billion ($833 million) Indian toy industry accounts for just 0.5 percent of the global pie, but for top global firms like Mattel, Lego and Woolworth, this potentially big market is the one to focus on, stakeholders said at a major international fair here. Elisa Enoch, the international sales manager of Giochi Preziosi SpA, an Italian toy company, for instance was upbeat about foraying into the Indian market with their “high quality” toys.

“It is for the first time that we are participating in the Toy Biz International fair and we are really looking forward to entering the Indian market by building as many contacts with distributors as possible,” Enoch told IANS at the toy fair held in the capital.

The Toy Biz International 2008, which began June 27 and ended Monday, is the third of its kind to be held in the country. A total of seven countries, including India, participated in the fair.

Huge stuffed toys resembling popular cartoon characters like the yellowish brown coloured dog Goofie, the bright yellow coloured bird Tweeti and the grey and pink donkey, as he was called in the movie Shrek, filled the stalls making for a cheerful picture.

Tiny cars zooming on racetracks, figurines of wrestlers and electronic gadgets lined the racks of the stalls as well inviting distributors visiting the fair.

Thomas Meisterknecht, director of Tipp-Kick, a German toy company participating in the fair, said the shipment of their first batch of toys to be made available in India was due to reach here in two weeks’ time.

“India’s toy market is not as big as Germany’s. But it is a potentially very big market. That’s why so many international companies are making a beeline to enter the Indian market,” Meisterknecht said.

“We participated in this fair for the first time last year, when we made a lot of contacts. We struck a deal with an Indian distributor Zephyr, who will distribute our toys here. The shipment, which is just a few hundreds, since it’s the first, will reach in two weeks,” he told IANS.

The USP of all the foreign toy companies is the quality of their products, which, however translates into high prices - something, which might not appeal to the masses.

“We have thought about the pricing structure. But then if you want quality and your child to play with safe products then a little steep price shouldn’t be discouraging,” Enoch said.

“We specialise in electronic gadgets and action figurines which have gone through all the safety tests. Some of the toys are expensive, like one gadget is 60 euros (approximately Rs.4,080). But we are planning to mainly take these toys to the shopping malls here where branded toys are quite in demand,” she added.

Similarly Meisterknecht, whose company’s toys are targeted at three to 16 year olds, said their products that were made either in Germany or Switzerland were expensive but the quality is superior.

“In fact after this fair we are going to Chennai for a promotional event of our stunt kites. We are expecting a good turnout of retailers and others for these kites which are priced between Rs.1,695 and 3,800,” he added.

In view of the huge furore raised last year after China-made toys by Mattel Inc were recalled because of high levels of toxins in them, the participants from China are quite vocal about the safety of their products.

Zou Peng, the international trade manager of WeHai Lion Toys Ltd, one of the two Chinese companies participating in the fair, said: “The problems that were found were mostly in the electronic toys and we specialise in soft toys which have passed all the safety tests like EN71.”

“We are not bothered about the quality - that is ensured. This is the first time we are participating in such a fair in India and given the demands we are hoping that we can find suitable distributors to supply a large quantity of toys,” Zou, whose stall was filled with life-sized lions, tigers and bears, told IANS.

Besides China, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong and France are participating in the fair.

“This is an ideal opportunity for Indian toy manufacturers to interact with their counterparts from elsewhere and for the international companies to find a suitable route to enter the Indian market,” said Vishnu Swarup Agrawal, president of the Toy Association of India, which has organized the fair.

“In any case this platform helps pushing up the domestic business,” he added.

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