Ernst Kick, CEO of the Spielwarenmesse (Nuremberg Toy Fair) has graciously agreed to an interview. The Spielwarenmesse is, by far, the largest toy industry event in the world so I wanted to know Mr. Kick’s thoughts on why that is; it’s plans for the future and why Americans should attend. I also wanted to know if he had a toy in his office. Here is my interview with Ernst:
Ernst: Because the International Toy Fair is the world’s best trade show for the industry! Of course, people don’t come to the fair in Nuremberg because I as CEO think it’s the best show for them. They come because the people and companies they meet here are precisely those they want to do business with. The exhibitors find trade representatives who can help them develop new markets and the visitors are delighted to find so many imaginative companies with high-quality products.
Richard: What will an attendee come away with after attending the Spielwarenmesse that he or she will not get at any other toy trade show?
Ernst: Visitors to the International Toy Fair return home after making contacts all over the world, gaining lots of knowledge and seeing new products that are not exhibited anywhere else. I myself am amazed that 25 percent of the companies in some product groups exhibit only at our toy fair. And the fact that all the brand leaders are represented at our fair is sensational. We have designed our fair program for traders and buyers around ToyInnovation, ToyKnowHow and ToyNetwork. These are the success factors that give our visitors the greatest benefit from the fair.
Richard: I am always amazed at how few Americans attend the show. How can we get more Americans to join the rest of the world in attending the Nuremberg Toy Fair?
Ernst: I am convinced that those buyers, distributors and toy traders who would like their range to stand out from their competitors’ ranges will come to Nuremberg sooner or later. Especially at a time when customers are less and less satisfied with run-of-the-mill products, buyers are becoming aware that they must offer their customers something special. Traders with these aspirations are prepared to broaden their purchasing activities. Instead of traveling the whole world, a visit to the International Toy Fair is sufficient to see the toy ideas from all over the world gathered in one place.
Richard: The current exhibition center is huge but it always seems like it is packed with people and exhibitors. Are there any plans to make the exhibition center bigger?
Ernst: Although we could certainly use more space, we consider very carefully how much toy fair we can expect our visitors to manage. It is already impossible for anyone to comb through all the 2,700 exhibitors during the fair. The scope offered by the Nuremberg exhibition center is therefore sufficient at present.
Richard: Let’s look ahead ten years. What will the Spielwarenmesse Nuremberg Toy Fair be like in the year 2020?
Ernst: The International Toy Fair 2020 will have a product profile adapted to the demand. Moreover, both toys and booths will have electronic and virtual secondary functions. The exhibitors will also market their real-world presentations at the fair in a virtual way with air tags and with screens for augmented reality displays. This will make the toy fair even more multidimensional and colorful.
Richard: Do you have a toy in your office? If you do would you mind telling us what it is?
Ernst: I have an airplane from the 60s in my office. It is a finely worked tin model with battery operation and a wingspan of 18.9 inches. I was terrifically proud when I received this model as a present. It is one of the few toys I have not taken to pieces to see how it works. It is also a toy that made me dream of becoming a pilot. For years I thought it was missing, until my children found it again recently in the attic. This airplane now has a place of honor in my office – always ready for take-off on an intellectual flight of fancy!