Baby boom

With over 20 years of experience in infant electronic learning toys, VTech Baby has more planned for 2011 to keep it front of mind with retailers and consumers. Katie Roberts found out more?
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Within the total infant category, VTech Baby has seen huge growth over the past few years, with NPD showing the firm has grown by 17.9 per cent YTD from 2007 to 2010.

Full year 2010 NPD data also showed that VTech Baby is the number one property in Infant and Pre-school and grew by 25.4 per cent. VTech attributes this success to its leading technological advancements. In 2010, the firm was the first to successfully introduce a unique closed-cell technology to allow bath toys to have renewable batteries in them.

Brand awareness is also key to the steady growth, as Gemma Ellis, VTech Baby assistant product manager, explains to ToyNews: "When we look at our product registration information, about 70 per cent of purchasers say they already own a VTech item. So we are getting a lot of repeat purchase. When mums and dads have experienced the quality and depth of play value in a VTech Baby item, they feel confident buying another."

Following on from its technological advancements, VTech Baby has secured the top spot as number one manufacturer in bath toys in March (NPD bath toys category). The brand also clinched all of the top three places for best-selling bath toys for the month, with the Sing and Splash Fish, Splash and Learn Duck and Bath Friends Turtle, in position one, two and three respectively.

Also doing well is one of VTech Baby’s longest standing products, the First Steps Baby Walker. 

This has been the best selling walker for many years, with a 50.8 per cent share in the walker category for the YTD December 2010, according to NPD.

The product doesn’t need TV advertising, instead, Ellis explains that other parents and kids themselves do the work for VTech: "Word of mouth, whether it’s the traditional form where a friend recommends to a new mum, or on online reviews and social networking sites, the message is the same – 'my child loved this toy'. We even see toddlers at the Baby Show where a variety of toys are available, make a dash for the First Steps Baby Walker."

The firm does of course, put a lot of marketing weight behind its lines and a major drive will commence in September to support the launch of new additions to the portfolio. This will take the form of TV advertising coupled with strong PR, online and press campaigns.

VTech Baby will also see increased exposure in 2011, with showcases at the NEC Baby Show and the Earls Court Baby show in October.

Ellis tells ToyNews: "The Baby Show is a great opportunity to interact with parents and babies.

"To showcase our VTech Baby products and let the little ones try them, we have an informal Smart Play Zone. We also have Dr Julie Coultas on hand to talk to parents about any questions about play and development that they may have.

"The main objective is to allow children to try our toys, but it is also a learning experience for us. We ensure that all the sales and marketing team work at least one day each at the show, to have interaction with parents, babies and find out what’s on their minds."

New to VTech Baby and sure to be at the show, is the Toot-Toot Drivers range – a series of six collectable vehicles, available individually or in sets. Also in the collection is the Toot-Toot Driver Garage, which provides a setting for the vehicles and features a sensor which recognises each vehicle.


The Toot-Toot Driver Garage

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Another new addition, the three-in-one Zebra Scooter features a' grow with baby' design, so kids can either push, ride or scoot, depending on their age and ability. The scooter is a slightly different avenue for VTech Baby. 

Ellis comments: "We made the move into electronic entertainment and became number one. We entered bath toys last year and there are other categories we can introduce new technology to grow."

Both the new products will be supported by TV advertising, marking a return to the small screen for the VTech Baby brand. 

Ellis concludes: "In the last five year, the VTech Baby brand has been mostly advertised in press, online and supported by excellent PR campaigns. We have two outstanding candidates for TV this year in The Toot-Toot Drivers and the three-in-one Zebra Scooter. We felt we had a real opportunity to establish some modern classics."

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