Toy Fair New York: What impact will Coronavirus have on the industry?
Total Licensing was at Toy Fair New York, where Steve Pasierb, CEO & President of The Toy Association, shared his views of the challenges facing the industry and why it is more important than ever to remain innovative and creative
China’s role as a lead player in the global supply chain is undisputed, which is why, amid the devastating human toll of the Coronavirus as it spreads around countries, the world economy is watching with a growing unease.
A huge percentage of products for the global toy industry are made in China – over 80% – and while this first quarter of a year is traditionally a quieter time for manufacturing and shipping, there is still upheaval and uncertainty, with many factories and businesses in the country remaining closed while authorities try to contain the spread of Covid 19.
The knock-on effect of the virus has already been dramatic for the toy and licensing industries, with shows such as the Bologna Book Fair postponed, the Geneva Motor Show cancelled, and concerns about the Olympic Games in Tokyo making headlines.
But how much should the toy industry be worried?
Steve Pasierb, CEO & President, The Toy Association, in his press briefing at the 2020 Toy Fair in New York, looked realistically at the forecast for the global toy market – already challenging, he said. Always positive and innovative, but it has faced some difficult years – Coronavirus being the current challenge, as well as the tariffs faced by the US in recent years.
“The toy industry has weathered many challenges over the years,’ Steve commented. “We knew the loss of Toys’R’Us would have a long-term effect, as this retailer was often the one to take a chance on an innovative new toy. Retail is facing dramatically different times. Creativity and innovation are the roots of the industry, of course, and we are seeing radical changes.
“Many companies are making the move towards sustainability, so it no longer becomes a buzzword, but best practice. In packaging, in manufacturing and in the due diligence they undertake.
“Mergers and acquisitions is a huge issue for the industry – larger companies want to merge and acquire, medium-sized businesses are acquiring brands and it can be extremely difficult for the smaller companies as they can feel shut out. How can we help them? This is a hugely important question going forwards.
“We live in changing times, and I would certainly like to have a quiet year! Brexit’s impact on the industry remains to be seen, and of course, we do not yet know the effects that the Coronavirus spread will have – on people and on industry. We, at the Toy Association, are always asking ourselves how we can help the industry?
“In positive news, I am so glad to share that 2020’s Toy Fair is once again sold out, with hundreds upon hundreds of amazing toys lining the aisles, and some really exciting and essential business being done. In 2022, Javits will finish its renovation and the space will be bigger and even better.
“New York really is the place to be to see the creative spirit and inspiring energy of our industry. And you know, times are changing. Looks at Ryan’s World – a successful toy line that has its roots in YouTube videos. The US toy industry worked in 40 countries this past year. We remain positive, as always, and China certainly maintains the competitive advantage in the global supply chain.
“We have weathered many storms before, and we will weather this one.”