Greetings from Shanghai! I am about half way through my trip to the China Toy Expo and am finding it in equal parts: Fascinating, informative and challenging.
Here is why: For starters, this is not the Hong Kong experience. The Toy Industry has been going to Hong Kong for so many years that it feels like home. The city’s 100 years as a British colony, its relatively manageable size, its toy show’s international orientation and its high degree of fluent or near-fluent English speaking makes it a comfortable experience for foreigners. In fact, there are sometimes so many westerners on the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui that it feels like New York.
Shanghai, unlike Hong Kong, is huge. It does have an outstanding highway system and rapid transit but for a first timer it can seem daunting. English is spoken here but not as fluently and by not as many people as in Hong Kong. This can make getting directions and making yourself understood at times a challenge. Finally, there were very few westerners attending the show.
Having said that; I have found the show to be a truly mind altering experience. Unlike the Hong Kong show’s export orientation, this is a show for Chinese buyers. As a result, it provides a visitor like me a window on China’s domestic market. As importantly, it provides an opportunity to experience a different side of China and by doing so become better educated on this country’s culture and society.
I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of distributors and manufacturers who have been extremely kind in teaching me about the Chinese consumer and the Chinese toy market that serves him and her.
I want to thank May Liang (Executive Vice President China Toy & Juvenile Products Association) for overseeing an excellent show and wonderful banquet. I have to tell you, if you have never been to a banquet in China you are missing something. Between the entertainment and the food, we all had a night to remember.
Special thanks to Helen Zhang (Deputy Secretary General for the TJPA) and Eric Wang (Senor Supervisor Operations for the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association)for arranging appointments and directing me to the right people. I required a translator which the China Toy Association (now called the Toy and Juvenile Products Association) provided me. I want to thank Joy Xiaojuan (my interpreter) for being such a great help in not only helping me understand and be understood but in helping me with taxis, finding food and my many other requests.
Thank you to everyone who is making this a fascinating trip.