Without our traditional trade shows it’s going to be every man, woman, and company for themselves in determining how best to communicate across oceans instead of tables.
This week the Spielwarenmesse announced that its annual toy trade show has been postponed until the summer of 2021.The Spielwarenmesse is a mind-bending event, spanning seventeen plus buildings and encompassing over one million unique toys. Its cancellation is, therefore, highly significant.
Here is an outtake from the announcement:
For the first time in its long history, the world’s leading toy fair has been postponed until the summer by organiser Spielwarenmesse eG. The decision was made by the supervisory board on 24 September and comes in the face of rising infection rates and further restrictions on travel.
This announcement follows the decision by The Toy Association to postpone the New York Toy Fair until this Spring after canceling the October event in Dallas. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council has not canceled its annual show in January. Still with current restrictions on travel to Hong Kong (mandatory quarantines), it is highly doubtful that the Hong Kong show will take place. If it does, it is doubtful that North Americans and Europeans will be able to attend.
The global toy industry has long been dependent upon travel and trade shows as a means of presenting its toys to retail buyers. The shows are carefully calendared to afford the proper amount of time for retailers to figure out how they did in the prior year and decide what to buy for the coming year. There is no plan B.
Without our traditional trade shows it’s going to be every man, woman, and company for themselves in determining how best to communicate across oceans instead of tables. I cannot see any organized alternatives on the horizon, except for the planned Spring Toy Fair in New York. If The Toy Association can pull it off, the New York Toy Fair will be possibly the first opportunity for retail buyers to see prototypes and finished products.
That’s a big “if” as Covid continues to breed in pockets all across the world. We really won’t know what to expect in the Spring until we manage to make it through the winter.
For now, each retailer, each toy company, and each o.e.m. provider will need to have their own plan of action. That means not just relying on technology but carefully coordinating operations and logistics with sales so that samples and vital information are where they need to be when they need to be.
It won’t be easy but it will be done. We’re the toy industry.