Japan, France, Germany; what are the biggest foreign toy markets?

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I have written on the growing importance of international sales.  In planning an approach to foreign markets it is helpful to know their relative size.   Below is a list of countries whose toy sales exceed $1 Billion U.S.  I acquired the information from the International Directory of Retail Toy Buyers, published by Gameplan Europe.  They not only provide total sales but in addition divide the sales by child population in order to calculate the average dollars spent per child (The United States spends an average of $360 per child).

Japan   $7.3 Billion ($430 per child)

France $3.7 Billion ($315 per child)

Germany $3.4 Billion ($300 per child)

United Kingdom $3.2 Billion ($310 per child)

Russia $1.9 Billion ($90 per child)

China $1.9 Billion ($7 per child)

Italy $1.7 Billion ($205 per child)

Spain $1.56 Billion ($240 per child)

Mexico $1.56 Billion ($50 per child)

South Korea $1.4 Billion ($170 per child)

Canada $1.15 Billion ($215 per child)

Brazil $1 Billion ($20 per child)

In picking your targets, do keep in mind that each country represents different cultural challenges so, even though Japan has the largest toy market after the United States, its cultural tastes in toys are markedly different.  Other countries, like Russia, present their own challenges in determining with whom to work.

So, if you are an American with little experience internationally, consider starting with the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia (not listed) which share language and cultural affinities.  Another place to begin is with your neighbors.  Again, if you are an American consider Mexico and Canada (NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) partners.  There are neither oceans to cross nor regulatory barriers to engage.

So, have a great trip as you decide to navigate the world’s toy markets.  Bon Voyage and write us when you get there.  We want to hear all about it. 

2 thoughts

  1. Going global is often great for your business and it is fun too!
    We started our Toy business(mostly plush characters) from nothing 5 years ago. We have been since blessed by a steady growth. While France was our primarily market, our limited distribution channel (specialty stores) pushed us to find new growth geographies (and distributors). Today, we are selling our products in over 20 countries among which all of the markets mentioned above. I fully agree that there are many many variations of taste, culture and regulations (our Brazilian distributor pays 100% import taxes!) which could seem quite scary and hold off many small businesses from trying the big jump. However, this step has been not only fantastic for our business but also for us as individuals. Most of us work to make a living, however, our core business is to make people smile and doing that in a worldwide basis is such a gratifying feeling. This journey will teach you so much about the others and eventually about yourself too!

  2. Canada, is a great market, but toy packaging has its own challenges including the hazardous products act, and bilingual packaging requirements. Many USA manufacturers could easily do business in Canada if only they would make their packaging and instructions either bilingual or multilingual. Once they are multilingual, it also open markets in the USA and Europe.

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