It needs to be said by someone and at the risk of my head being chopped off by a few disbelievers. BUT for those who plan to enter the German market:
According to Circana the German market shows a devastating -12% (!!) in the month of January '24, compared same period in '23. And 2023 as a year was already dramatic for the German Toy Industry. This is not a very good start. Now Smyths Toys is not included in the Circana reports...and actually that is a good thing as the data would be (far) less negative and would not give a true representation of the rest of the market.
Now anyone responding by saying ‘it is because of the economy', I am sorry, this is only a small fraction of the problem. Same as the impact of MyToys and Otto Versand. Let’s face it, if the German toy industry would be depending on these 2 retailers it would behave been bankrupt years ago. No, although some impact, a significant portion the business with these 2 retailers has been absorbed by others in 2024. Believe me: Economy, MyToys and Otto have very little to do with the current demise of the Germany toy industry at the start of 2024. Germany toy industry: It is time to look in the mirror.
What is going on?
- Most German retailers shut down for new business in January and most of February Why? Well it is the traditional stock clearance, end of year auditing and what have you: "our warehouse is full" and "our shelfs are packed.
- There is a big disconnect between retailer and todays consumer (the gamer, the kidult etc).
- German buyers love German toy companies. Germany 1st and that is totally fine. However with the exception of a few, most German companies are not experiencing the best of times.
- Believe it or not, most retailers have yet to place their '24 spring orders.
- One believes the German consumer is different... WRONG!
- One believes the German mother still makes the decisions... WRONG... "das war mal"!
- If the licensed merchandise is not related to a movie, TV series, book... it simply doesn't exist"... again.. WRONG!
- The lack of knowledge of the average German buyer of what is going on in world is a big concern.
It is one of the biggest frustrations for suppliers dealing with Germany. Some buyers say "let's make the final decision for Spring'24 when we meet at Nurnberg Toy Fair...2024" ...hmm okay ...so you expect suppliers just to stock new product in the hope ...you buy? Well let me tell you, first comes, first gets. We don't hold inventory if we can sell it now. So we may have no product for you at all!
If the German toy market wants to improve the 2024 (and beyond) performance, then it needs a total reset. From independent to specialist to mass market!
To prove my point: There are a couple of German retailers who have broken the "status quo" and guess what? These companies show increase year-on-year, against the negative trend. Now what do these retailers do?
- Totally connected to the end consumer.
- Understanding today's consumer is a global consumer.
- The "global" consumer is diverse and of all ages --> Opportunity!!
- Understanding and exploring, what is happening in other markets.
- The year has 365 days. So 365 days to sell products. Not 250 days.
- New products drive traffic to store. Traffic means business. And the opportunity to make an incremental sale.
- Spring season starts Mid- December, fall season starts in Mid-June.
What do you do when the store you visit offers you the latest of the latest, and the store across the street offers old product? You go (and stick) to the first one.