Last week I was reopening some gift boxes received on my birthday, one box included a stick with very colorful mouthwatering fruity jellybeans. So I decided to give it a try and taste the banana shaped bean, within seconds after having the first bite I realized it tasted really bad and then discovered that it’s a soap! Yes I know what you are thinking, anyway it just happened and the experience was not great (at all). Fortunately I managed to directly remove it and do all the necessary steps to be safe. See, in the front plastic packaging there was no info, however on the back in small font it was mentioned that these are mini soaps, and because I mixed between them and fruity jellybeans and didn’t bother to read, I just ate them, which led me to wonder if I am a mature adult, with complete reading and mental abilities and did such a mistake, then what will happen to kids! Since then the word TOY SAFETY has been top of mind.
During my work, with a leading toy distributor in the MENA region we have always adhered to toy safety regulations (international and local ones) whether in terms of products (design, functionality, content) or even event mechanisms when we arranged championships and events for the spinning tops BeyBlade. So I am pretty familiar with the importance of toy safety and always keeping an eye on the emphasis the toy industry or even regulating bodies place on this topic, yet I guess when an incident takes place (at business or personal level) then the emphasis gets stronger and this is exactly what happened with me.
Hence I decided to spot the light further on this topic to stimulate a different thinking (and just players who aim to think differently out innovate others) and point out a big idea here, toy safety is not only a rule to be followed because it is reinforced by higher authorities, toy safety is much stronger than a procedure we go through to get our products on shelves, its an authentic value, a commitment for quality and ethics, a demonstration of our social mission and care as business players towards our communities, and most importantly its an extremely powerful business trait a company can live by, stand out from its competition and gain business credibility and customers loyalty in the market.
To better understand the dimension of this value, let’s look at the topic from 2 different dimensions: a. What is toy safety? b. The main reasons behind its importance for companies working in the business of play.
Toy safety is a process that goes throughout multiple stages starting from toy design to development, testing, production and delivery processes to ensure children are protected while playing, its real hard work and a top priority of the toy industry.
Many parties are involved in this process; designers, toxicologists, pediatricians, chemists, child psychologists, ophthalmologists, lab experts, associations, federal bodies, parents & kids themselves. Furthermore, during the manufacturing process and once available in the warehouse the toy goes under various tests mainly by third parties and certified engineers to ensure its safe and meets the set safety standards. Millions of dollars are invested by the industry to maintain a very safe system.
Here are 3 reasons that make this value of a great importance:
- Key success factor; while some factors might lead to business excellence for those who strive for it, other factors are a "must" to just be in the business. And offering safe toys is one of these keys, which nominate a company to become a player in the industry and have their products sold on shelves (just like a restaurant is required to adhere to specific set of health and safety standards to get started). It is also worthwhile mentioning that being up to date with the latest safety standards in the different regions the company caters to is very essential in order to not lose sales opportunities.
- Reinforces brand’s authenticity, business ethics and its social mission towards the community; Well-known brands and companies who aim to build, sustain and grow their businesses understand the importance of making ethical business decisions to live their highest values, and realize that they have a social mission towards the community. Thus, protection becomes a top priority surpassing the fun and play value elements, which are also essential factors to a brand’s success.
- Contributes to building brand credibility and loyal customer base (ambassadors); Consumers especially parents highly appreciate the safety element and place a strong emphasis on this point while purchasing toys for their kids, thus when a company builds a reputation of offering safe products, they will definitely be the brand of choice in a certain category and manage to build a loyal customer base, who will not only purchase the product but will also recommend it to others.
Besides adhering to toy safety standards, companies can further utilize this value, by creating awareness among customers (parents and kids) providing them with safety tips and advices related to various types of play and even arrange work shops at schools to educate caregivers, parents and kids on how to enjoy safe play. Furthermore, I believe it is a must to educate employees working in different functions on the importance of this value, and not just limit it to team players responsible of this task.