In our new feature two top toy execs interview one another. Starting us off are two fellow Americans (and neighbours) yes, itís the UK bosses of Mattel and Lego, Geoff Walker and Drew Brazer...
Geoff: Congratulations – Lego has just posted some impressive results. You must have some great plans to keep up the momentum – anything you can share?
Drew: Thanks Geoff, yes we have some really exciting plans in the pipeline which I can’t share with you at present… but nice try buddy!
What do you see as the key toy market trends in the next three years?
Digital will continue to play a transformational role. From a marketing perspective, manufacturers will need to build and maintain digital engagement through content delivery, social networking and online gaming. From a product perspective, I think more toys will bridge the physical and digital worlds. However, I am a big believer in toys that do not need to rely heavily on technology but, instead, a child’s imagination to create their own stories... like Lego!
We both must have moved to the UK at about the same time. What have been the surprises for you?
I am most surprised that I actually prefer the weather in the UK versus Connecticut. I certainly don’t miss shovelling snow, and I appreciate the more moderate temperatures. Even after a few record-breaking rain months, I still like the weather! I have been surprised by the lack of bothersome insects like flies and gnats.
And what three things do you love about the UK?
The opportunity to experience a different culture with such a fascinating history. Secondly, I love the British sense of humour. It’s self deprecating, dry and hilarious! Thirdly, the weather. Also, I’ve attended a few Premier League games, and the quality of play is amazing!
We have children about the same age and my son has been asking for a Lego birthday party. You have three kids – what were their favourite toys?
Clearly your son has excellent taste! My son is a teenager, and when he was young he liked Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes. He then turned his attention to Lego after that. He also enjoyed a good Nerf fight. My teenage daughters were big fans of plush, and then they moved on to American Girl Dolls.
What would be one of your key learnings about UK retailers and how they differ from the US?
The US market has three dominant players: Walmart, Target and Toys R Us. In the UK, the market is more fragmented and varied in terms of channels with specialty independents, grocers, catalogue retailers, department stores, High Street retailers and e-tailers.
Who will you be interviewing next month?
Vivid’s chairman and co-founder Nick Austin.