This month, our mystery toy retailer also discusses brighter weather and toy promotions.

COUNTER INSURGENT: Confusing toy offers

As I write this, the first rays of sunshine are streaming through the window and suddenly people are smiling and happy.

They’re still not spending but… it feels it has been so cold for so long now that I think we will all be glad to see a little warmer weather.

The kids in the shop seem to be less hyper, which maybe suggests they are letting off steam outside. We are due a good warm summer, aren’t we? (But not too hot or they won’t shop, and they don’t need any more excuses thank you very much).

Easter followed on from half-term and didn’t really get going. Half-term promotions were offered and mostly ignored; a lot of consumers stayed inside and shivered.

Looking at the other promotions around, I don’t think I can remember ever seeing so many confusing offers, with some retailers basically saying to the consumer “we rip you off all year, so come in and shop with us now”.

It is a said fact that consumers are buying into promotions, and we are constantly looking at ways we can offer genuine promotions.

Manufacturers are helping with some promos, but when they’re offered by some suppliers, you do get suspicious why. I was offered a three for two (which aren’t working anyway), so I asked if this offer was just for indies or the trade in general. “Only indies,” I was told.

Now, I’ve been around too long to think there wasn’t some rat in all this, so I made the rep sign a sale or return agreement (SOR). Sure enough, the said item ended up in supermarkets with a third off.

It doesn’t help when manufacturers make a poorer version of their products in the name of a promotion at a supermarket or discount store. A scooter with a smaller handle and wheel size that is identical in every other way, does nothing to help customer relations when you won’t price match. If a manufacturer really has to do this, then make it look different, the colour of the wheels, the smiley face on the sticker, a cheap brown cardboard box to reflect the product.

Or why not add a slogan? How about, “my dad is a cheapskate and wouldn’t buy me the proper version of this scooter”, like those crappy T-shirts you see at holiday destinations?

There has been a debate about ‘parallel’ products recently and it has to be said the biggest culprits are the supermarkets.

They rip off anything from dolls, games, crafts and most noticeably pre-school, all in the name of own-label. It is so easy to knock a product off, but I do feel sometimes that suppliers don’t help themselves, especially when a company not traditionally known for supplying supermarkets get their product ripped off.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a rep who can’t remember any SOR agreement to sort.

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