By its own admission, this time last year Zimpli Kids was a company left feeling unfulfilled.
It’s an odd thing to say about a firm who at the time was sitting with some of its best sales figures to date under its hat, while it’s hard to imagine that, for a company who all but pioneered the way of social media marketing and YouTube engagement for toy firms in the UK, there was much – if anything – still to conquer. Yet indeed there was.
Zimpli Kids may well have put the first steps towards sustainability in motion over the course of 2019, promoting the company’s eco-messaging through marketing efforts to highlight the biodegradability of its flagship Gelli products, but 2020 has certainly been the year that the business has put its stake firmly in the ground. This is a toy company that wants to put sustainability at the centre of what it does, and nothing – not even a global Covid-19 pandemic – is going to quieten that message.
One packaging overhaul later and Zimpli Kids is ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with a growing number of toy companies tackling the sustainability issue head on in the pursuit of a greener industry and a mission to work in unison with a greener environment.
“2020 was the year that Zimpli decided to make some big changes to do our bit for the environment,” Zimpli Kids’ head of marketing, Jessica Coy, tells ToyNews. “Not only is this driven by our passion to create a sustainable future, but the increase in the public’s interest in purchasing eco-friendly products.
“Our mission has always been to create fun, safe products for children to enjoy but creating eco-friendly toys is now also at the forefront. Zimpli Kids Gelli and Slime are loved by children worldwide, and we are proud to be able to continue to offer these household name products, with the added peace of mind that they are friendly for the environment.”
While recent months have seen conversation shift its focus on to the impacts of the global coronavirus crisis, it’s done little to deter the trajectory of the sustainability movement from a consumer point of view. Findings from both industry analysts, like Valeria Miglioli of Pumpkin Projects, as well as retailers and manufacturers already working within the ecofriendly space, tell us that rather than stunt the sustainability movement, the pandemic has only sown a desire for greater change further in the consumer mindset.
“Sustainability is becoming more and more important by the day in the toy industry, and many manufacturers are moving in a greener direction,” continues Zimpli Kids’ Coy. “Whether that’s through reducing plastics, packaging, or changing to recycled materials.
“Being sustainable is now not only an attractive addition to your offerings, it is becoming far more important, especially in the toy industry.
Toys that are made to be more eco-friendly are not only keeping children happy, they are there to educate them on protecting the environment from an early stage.”
But it’s no easy task. Coy will be among the first to admit that going sustainable is a cause to which manufacturers will have to be dedicated if they are to make a success of it.
“Taking steps to becoming more environmentally friendly certainly isn’t something that happens overnight,” she says.
“We have worked hard developing our eco range and there have been many challenges along the way, but it’s worth it when you can offer a fully eco-friendly toy by the end of it.”
For Zimpli Kids, the return on its efforts has been two-fold. Its Eco Gelli Play has already been recognised by the nation’s independent toy retailers as a top product on the eco scene, and just last month it was awarded a Gold medal in the Independent Toy Awards 2020 in the Eco Category.
“We have been working so hard this year to be able to offer a selection of fully eco-friendly products, and we have only gone and done it,” says Coy. “We first launched with our Eco Gelli Play and Slime Play, which will be followed by the full Eco range of best-selling products available in 2021.
“We are using the same much loved products that allow children to turn water into certified biodegradable Slime of Gelli.”
Zimpli’s Eco boxes have also been re-designed to communicate the new multi-use aspect of their best-selling Gelli and Slime products, with each pack now offering up to six play uses, or one bath use.
If you want more, how about this: Zimpli manufactures 95 per cent of its products in its company-owned UK factory. In 2019, the firm achieved ISO 9001 accreditation, and it has just been accredited with ISO 14001, a coveted environmental certification awarded only to companies who prove they minimise how their operations negatively impact on the environment, and comply with all applicable laws with regards to ‘effective environmental management’ and sustainability.
As well overhauling its packaging to develop recyclable boxes, leaflets, and bags (turning to card and paper over plastics), and passing the Bio-degradation Test OECD 301B as tested by Intertek across its biodegradable Gelli and Slime compounds and powders, Zimpli Kids has also introduced its first eco-friendly in-store display. Featuring the new Eco Gelli and Slime, plus the new Rainbow and Rocket Baff Bombz, the FSDU is made up of 99.5 per cent recyclable packaging while all products are biodegradable.
The new Eco range will be exclusive to the FSDU pre-Christmas, with the full range launching early 2021.
It’s fair to say that Zimpli Kids has put in the legwork to develop a marketable eco-friendly offering, all while, like the rest of the world, it was battling the challenges thrown up by global pandemic. Yet, if that wasn’t enough, Zimpli Kids also took it upon itself to give over a portion of its warehousing and distribution operations to the development of a range of PPE, including alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
“Covid-19 has been a challenging but very busy time for us at Zimpli Kids. Our MD was even driving himself to hand deliver our hand sanitizers to our local NHS foundation trusts at one point,” recalls Coy. “We are now getting back to some sort of normality and can focus on the Eco range, which is ultimately our most important product launch to date.
“Obviously it will take some time for the industry to get back to pre-Covid times, but we are going to concentrate on pushing our sustainability efforts and showing off what we have been busy developing.”
And still there’s another string to the Zimpli Kids bow. It wasn’t so long ago that the firm was detailing its latest moves in the sensory play market, a growing sector and one of increasing interest to the toy and education industry. With the development of a targeted educational range, Zimpli has found itself on the precipice of a whole new market.
“Parents are now starting to introduce sensory play to their children from a really early age as it is so important to develop their senses,” says Coy.
“The unique texture of our products make them extremely versatile with many uses such as multi-sensory play, messy play along with benefits for children with Autism, sensory issues and much more. In fact, the Sensory play trend has inspired us to re-brand the educational range to be bigger, better, and eco-friendly.
“This specially designed range for the educational sector will encourage the use of our products for multi-sensory play in educational environments. We have already achieved international brand awareness of our core products, Gelli Baff and Slime Baff with distribution in over 50 countries across the globe.
“We are now planning to replicate the international distribution with our Eco educational range.”
Success in the field will be no mean feat, but if achieved will align Zimpli Kids with a number of the leading global companies to be actively promoting the sustainability message through not only toys and play, but their own practices and methods of packaging, too. It will also mark another step for the toy company on its own journey towards fulfilment.