Family Affair

Danbar Toys has, to a large degree, forgone traditional marketing techniques in favour of a more hands-on approach to raise awareness of its company. Katie Roberts visited the firm's Hertfordshire-based offices to find out more...
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At the age of ten, Kfir Barda was earning more than his father selling flowers at road junctions and parties.

This entrepreneurial spirit has continued into his adult life, taking him into marketing and sales roles before joining forces with his brother in 2001 to set up Danbar.

Despite their family connection, until the company’s formation, there was little to link the two: Tzuri Bar took a more academic route, moving to London to complete a Masters degree in structural engineering at Imperial College, London and continuing his career in engineering and management.

Bar believes the blend of their diverse experiences has been the formula for Danbar’s success. He explains: “Our unique combination has proven itself year after year allowing us to introduce star products and execute them seamlessly into the marketplace.”

From the Hertfordshire office, Bar oversees UK distribution (managed by Re:creation), marketing and product innovation, while his brother is based in Hong Kong and manages international operations.

Danbar trades in three areas: toys, pillows and spa products. Although Bar admits the toys sector is the driving force of the business at present.

The firm plans to grow into new territories. This year saw the company’s first exhibition outside the UK at the Hong Kong Toy and Game Fair.

Bar explains: “We wanted to introduce ourselves to new markets and grow awareness of our brand. We started in Hong Kong earlier in the year and have been present at nearly every toy exhibition since then.”

So far, the strategy appears to be working and the company recently took a $1.4million order from Radio Shack in the US, which plans to distribute the product across 6000 stores.
Once orders are in, Danbar spends the majority of its marketing budget on in-store demonstrations. Bar explains:

“Demonstrations are often a better means of marketing for a small company as you control every pound you spend. Our products are impulse buys, so we need to affect the customer
directly.”

Around 120-130 demonstration stands will be in stores in the lead up to Christmas, with the majority of demonstrators in Debenhams stores. Bar admits the orchestration of this takes a great deal of work.

In 2001, Danbar built the sales team and staff members are trained continuously. Each store has a team manager and a software programme monitors product consumption per outlet.

Bar continues: “We are fussy about brand requirements. All sales staff have to know everything about the product, we even pay attention to how staff look as this reflects our brand image.”

The experiential marketing appears to be bringing results. The order with Radio Shack, which doesn’t yet utilise demonstrators, only supplies six products to each location, whereas around £700,000 of product is shipped solely to Debenham’s Trafford Centre store each year.

Bar wants to increase this activity, but only into quality locations. In 2006, staff were in 86 stores, but this dropped to 44 this year to ensure strong service in good locations.

Currently around 80 per cent of the turnover comes from 45 per cent of locations, mainly those employing the demonstrations: Proof in itself the method is working.

Following the distribution deal with Re:creation, Danbar is beginning to encompass traditional marketing too and an advert for Ground Assault, sponsored by Re:Creation, will air from next month until Christmas.

Bar concludes: “This year has already proved to be better than previous years as most of the orders for Christmas have been completed and indicate higher sales and significant global presence. We feel privileged because our success stems from our passion and belief in what we do.”

To date the company’s radio controlled toy collection includes helicopters, planes, bikes, cars, tanks and emergency vehicles. The firm also recently added a Playset to its Ground Assault range, to introduce gaming to r/c.

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