The Toy Industry; in search of the best and the brightest

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This is the second of three postings that will explore the notion that we as an industry do not attract a sufficient number of the best and brightest coming out of our colleges and graduate schools. 
.  Every year, graduates come flooding out of colleges and graduate schools looking for careers in everything…but the toy industry.  Yes, I know that FIT does a great job of preparing students to become designers but the number of business schools educating students for the toy industry is minuscule if not non-existent. 

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In my last posting, I spoke about the toy industry as invisible to job seekers

We need fresh faces with sharp, innovative minds.  Why, because, with some exceptions, we have become largely stale in our thinking.  Why else has our market share steadily declined over the last few years? Why else do we complain about age compression when the reality is that we don’t produce the toys that older children want?

The video game and other technology based play industries don’t have this problem.  Young people fight to get in the door.  Why, because it’s cool to be in that industry and because virtually every vocational and community college in the country trumpets the fact that they teach video game design as a way of increasing admissions.

So, what can the toy industry do; that in my next posting.

One thought

  1. Richard: Great post, and one that warrants attention by Industry Execs and recruiters alike.
    Coming out of the traditional “Consumer Packaged Goods” world (CPG), I am constantly amazed at how few Toy & Game manufacturers provide ongoing sales training, organizational development classes, and Category Management expertise to their employees. The big guys certainly do a decent job at Category Management with WalMart, Target, etc. But there is a precipitous drop from there.
    One of the big issues is that success in the Toy & Game category has not traditionally come from hard work and business discipline. Rather, the nature of the “hit product” in our market allows for those with little or no business sense to rise to the top. In some respects, that is what makes our industry so exciting; it’s like buying a lottery ticket. On the other hand, it lowers the bar in many ways – anyone with $50k and a napkin sketch can start a “Game Company”. The fact that the average industry net margin (among publicly traded companies) is around 10.5% speaks volumes. And this is PUBLIC companies – who knows how low the number is when you add in all the Toyfair hopefuls and garage startups.
    We counsel our clients to understand the mechanics of making money every day while they wait for that “Hit” product. An analogy: The best baseball teams win games on singles and doubles, along with a well rounded defense. This requires a solid “bench” of skills – and why every position is filled with the best possible talent.
    Perhaps if we fielded better all-around teams in our industry, more people would sign up.

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