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Exclusively yours?

The increasing practice of toys launching initially at just one retailer is causing a bit of a stir in the industry. We ask a host of trade figures what they think of retail exclusives.
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So a particular toy is being sold in a particular retailer exclusively for a limited period.

There’s nothing wrong with a little exclusivity between friends, right?

Why shouldn’t a company and a retailer be able to organise an early toy launch? This has been happening since forever. Not a big deal… right?

Well actually it is – at the moment. Discussions about such deals on social media channels like Twitter, together with coverage of them in the toy press, has provoked a fresh debate. So, what’s the industry consensus?

Do exclusives put other retailers at a disadvantage? Do they present consumers with a lack of choice? Or are they a way to boost business? We put these questions to toy industry figures in this month’s news analysis…

“It reflects badly on me if I don’t have something that’s just been launched.”

“The idea of putting a product exclusively on one person’s shelf is very, very restrictive. I’m not advocating that I should have something before anybody else. But this restrictive placing of product on the market – I don’t know what it achieves. Will it achieve the same number of sales as having it on all the counters? If the answer is no, well then why do it?

Obviously exclusives where an item is placed with a supplier and they’ve got it for the season, that’s possibly slightly different. But launching for a month exclusive? I don’t know if that’s the right way forward for the industry.”
Gary Grant, Founder and Managing Director, The Entertainer

“As soon as you give one retailer something early, everyone else is going to moan.”

“We don’t have any issues with exclusive lines for other retailers.

What we have an issue with is early launches, which is really a different thing – when a supplier has given somebody something earlier than anybody else.

I think it puts all other retailers at a disadvantage – not just independents. I don’t expect it to continue. Hopefully common sense will prevail.”
Ian Edmunds, Marketing and Operations Director, Toymaster

“Give us all a level playing field.”

“Just because these things happen all the time doesn’t make them right.

It’s funny how they always happen with the big companies – it’s never the independent chains, yet
together we are possibly as mighty as some of the reasonable-sized multiple retailers.

Kids in our shop are young people who have come to trust us.

How do you explain to these children and customers, when you have spent months, if not years, building up a trusted, loyal relationship with them, that they have to go somewhere else?”
Helen Gourlay, Company Director, The Hub Direct

“If one works closely with retail, it is possible to avoid controversy and deliver extra sales for all.”

“At Flair we have done exclusive offerings for many years and independents are as much a part of this as the majors.

We believe that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, so exclusives need to work for the retailer, for us as the brand owner and for the consumer.

It’s also important that a retailer maximises the opportunity themselves by doing their own marketing to capture the consumer.”
Nicola Bergot, Sales Director, Flair

“The bigger the brand, the more controversial. The big issue is fairness to all trade customers.”

“Vivid’s approach to this thorny issue is to try and spread these exclusive opportunities to all customers, in return for special in-store or online treatment for the [particular] brand.

The bigger the brand, the more controversial. Hence our recent approach to Moshi Monsters Series 4 launch, where we decided that we could not give any customer an exclusive and instead created a myriad of consumer events across the retail landscape, all targeted for the August Bank Holiday weekend, and with great success it would appear.

Independent retailers should not lose out on exclusive launches. Any manufacturer who does not include this vital sector in their plans is missing a trick as independents can often create better in-store theatre than some of the bigger chains.”
Nick Austin, Chairman, Vivid

“Exclusives give us a clear point of difference in a highly competitive marketplace.”

“We have different types of exclusives such as different colourways, different products or styles or totally exclusive ranges like [Argos’ own brand] Chad Valley. It depends on the type of exclusive that we list.

We expect exclusives to be volume sellers. We believe that exclusives drive product development and differentiation in the marketplace.”
Andrea Abbis, Trading Manager, Toys & Nursery, Argos

“Retailers go for exclusives as they feel this will give them an advantage over competitors, but that’s not always necessarily the case.

“A well thought out cross category promotion with exciting point-of-sale will probably drive stronger sales.
And having product distribution across a greater number of retailers can help brand awareness and sales for all.”
Graham Saltmarsh, UK Licensing Director, Turner CN Enterprises

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