Student Loan Debt and the Impact on Toy and Game Sales

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Sometimes it’s the readers
and not the columnists who offer the most mind-shifting insights.  That was the case for me while reading an
excellent column in the Economist entitled: 
Child’s Play”.  The article offered
an analysis of the current decrease in toy sales).  While it did a good job of
providing many (but not all of the causes and solutions; most of the points
would not have surprised an industry veteran.  

What did hit me a point raised,
not by the author, but by one of the readers? 
Here is that individual’s comment:

As
far as US Customers, the demographic you're posting about is the same
demographic that has been absolutely decimated by student debt.

If
the toy companies expect to sell to these people, they need to make better
quality, more cost effective options. They also they need to do what they can
to help the student debt cause because without customers with disposable
incomes, there's no customers. Right now many of these people aren't having
kids because they're stuck in sub-prime student loans, IF they're even able to
find jobs.


If
they want to make those profits back they have to look at more factors than
just technology. There's a bubble in student loans that's sucking up all of the
cash that people of this demographic have. They're either not having kids or
having kids way later…

I found this extremely
insightful as it does help to explain the decline in births and sales.  After all, young families are the heart and
soul of the toy industry’s consumer base. 
But does the toy industry or any consumer products industry have a dog
in the student loan fight?  Well, maybe
it does.    

If an industry is negatively
impacted by a government policy, does that industry have a responsibility to
itself to take a principled stand?  What
if that industry seeks to have an influence on legislation, doesn’t the
question of student debt than become a relevant issue for that industry?

The Toy Industry
Association, due to some well intentioned but ultimately draconian safety laws
passed by Congress, had to become engaged in the political process.  The industry answered by sponsoring
Congressional “Fly-Ins” whose purpose is to sensitize Congress to the
unintended consequences of some of its laws. 
It also established and staffed an effective lobbying office in
Washington.

Earlier this year, the toy
industry launched its own political action committee:  TOYPAC and last week, the TIA announced the
creation of a bi-partisan Congressional Toy Caucus.  According to a TIA press release:  …the Toy Caucus was created to engage
lawmakers in a constructive dialogue about issues currently facing the U.S. toy
industry and the important role that toy businesses have in the development and
education of children around the world.”

Should student debt be an issue
for the TIA to tackle?  It certainly has
the means but is it something it should tackle? 
What do you think?

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