February 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 2
Toy Fair’s gone green before. But this year, in addition to welcoming a slew of eco-friendly product, the Toy Industry Association is ramping up environmental consciousness everywhere from the press room to individual exhibits.
BUYERS TEXT AND GO
A buyer visiting a booth, for example, will be able to text a message with the show ID and document number for that exhibitor, then later retrieve the desired data sheet by logging in to his Virtual Totebag account. This free service for retailers — and complimentary for vendors uploading just a single document — is only one way Toy Fair is embracing eco principles, according to Stacy Leistner, TIA’s vice president of communications.
“Toy Fair Times,” he told TDmonthly Magazine, is just a single issue this year — as opposed to daily printings — though show updates will be accessible throughout the expo at ToyFairNY.com, where the Virtual Press Office also stores dozens of press releases from exhibiting manufacturers.
This year, for the first time, companies have the chance to identify themselves to buyers as “green” through the new Earth-Friendly Product Zone that joins 11 other product areas on the show floor.
Dandelion is one exhibitor taking advantage of the new section, which will boast 19 vendors altogether.
“There are a whole lot of stores now that are looking to bring in green and eco-friendly that didn’t have it before,” said Beth Saunders, marketing manager for the company. She believes many buyers at Toy Fair, motivated by customer request, will seek targeted opportunities to add “green” to their inventory.
TOY TRENDS SCORE AN “A”
Aside from the earth-friendly theme, “active,” “accessible” and “affordable” are three buzzwords for this year’s show. Those designations build on the exercise trend of 2009, the continued development of engaging and Web-connected toys, and the ongoing challenge of diversifying lines with lower price points, Leistner told TDmonthly.
“What we've been really impressed with is the technology and attention to detail” found even in value-priced products at $5 to $25, he emphasized.
The fourth big trend — "aspirational" — refers to products that inform children about their communities, involve them in charitable missions, and create greater awareness about important social decisions, such as eco-friendly product selection.
SAFETY TAKES THE STAGE
Of course, the one question that affects every product at Toy Fair regardless of trend is simply, “Does it comply with safety standards?”
Because the regulatory landscape doesn’t present an easy answer, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and TIA representatives will take the stage for the annual Toy Fair Safety Update Seminar following Monday morning’s TIA business meeting (usually conducted at ToyCon, on hiatus this year).
In addition to continuing dialog pertaining to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, TIA staff will address present and forthcoming developments at both the federal and state levels.
State legislation can easily hinder efforts to streamline toy safety law. However, as Leistner pointed out, TIA’s work has contributed to the fact that out of “250 pieces of state legislation proposed in more than 40 states last year … none was passed in a way that would be harmful to the industry.”
To view a list of seminars and exhibitor events at Toy Fair, click here.