It’s been 70 years since Spielwarenmesse first took over the Bavarian city of Nuremberg and over the course of those seven decades, it has steadily become Europe’s largest toy trade fair.
After spending the best part of a century plying the international toy trade with the latest launches and most innovative products across the global toy industry, Spielwarenmesse has now decided that 2019 will mark the year for some definitive changes to the structure.
Now fret not, those of you who have grown accustomed to - or even, dare we suggest, an affinity with - the usual helpings of Bratwurst und bier or schnitzel und kartoffelnsalat, some traditions truly will never die.
No, there’s to be no changes to the menu, as far as we have been told. Instead, the team at Spielwarenmesse is looking to make your show experience itself, all the sleeker.
For a show hosting around 2,800 companies from all over the world, presenting one million products and 120,000 new innovations and opening its doors to more than 71,000 trade visitors from 129 countries - a smooth operation is certainly most desirable.
Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse, a title that comes with the great responsibility of ensuring a once again sleek show for all attending, has talked us through the new layout.
Firstly, under the new product group Model Railways and Model Construction, the show is bringing the two segments together in Hall 7A. Following this is the creation of a new product group - Electronic Toys - which will be making its debut in Hall 4A. Then, of course, the product group Festive Articles, Carnival and Fireworks, is being given its own activity area at the show known as Showtime. The expansion of this group will spill into part of Hall 8.
“All of these steps are necessary if we are to reflect the way in which the toy market is evolving,” Kick tells ToyNews.
“By initiating these changes, we are not striving to set new records, because it is quality that is most important to us.”
Such is the emphasis on quality over quantity at Spielwarenmesse, the changes visitors will find at this year’s show are all the direct result of the needs and wants of the retailers and buyers themselves.
It is they, Kick suggests, who remain at the centre of the show.
“[These areas] create new ideas and sources of inspiration for them,” continues Kick.
“For example, the special area Toys meet Books, specifically targets book sellers looking for ways to expand their product ranges to attract more footfall.
“Quality is a given on this front. In 2018, we welcomed 71,000 trade visitors from 129 countries. The majority of which are international trade buyers with decision-making powers. The visitor breakdown shows that we attract a large proportion of independent and specialist retailers as well as wholesalers and importers and exporters.”
Spielwarenmesse, while a five day show, this year running from January 30th to February 3rd, extends far beyond its weeklong set-up in Nuremberg. In his role as the show’s organiser, Kick in fact, oversees an ‘extensive range of services’ that run year-round, keeping not only the essence of the show alive, but the international industry up to date on latest developments.
“Even when the fair isn’t open, we supply attendees with our extensive services all year round, with the latest industry topics and news on our website, our app and in our own magazine Spirit of Play, enabling them to prepare their time in Nuremberg both thoroughly and well in advance,” explains Kick.
During the event itself, Spielwarenmesse hosts the Toy Business Forum in Hall 3A. It’s become known as the central hub of knowledge for the trade.
”Besides the highly popular toy trends, the programme of expert talks will focus, among others, on approaches to customer retention in the age of online trade and digitisation, while the LicenseTalks constitute a new feature, taking place every morning from Wednesday to Friday,” he adds.
While Ernst Kick would and does argue that every year, the Spielwarenmesse offers a number of must-see features, this year promises a truly enviable programme of Special Areas. Among them is the ToyFestival, marking the show’s 70th anniversary with a special event on the Thursday evening.
“All attendees are invited, giving us the opportunity to thank participants for their loyalty which in many cases extends over several decades,” says Kick.
“This relaxed get together with musical entertainment and delicious catering brings together long-standing business partners as well as newcomers to the industry.
“For the past 70 years, the Spielwarenmesse has been the most important date in the industry’s calendar of events. Every year, the entire toy world comes together in Nuremberg. Attendees from home and abroad appreciate the fact that the whole industry is gathered in one location and all the major players are among our exhibitors.”
Actually, 31 per cent of the show’s exhibitors appear only at the Spielwarenemsse and at no other event, while there’s a diversity in product and a market overview that goes unrivalled on international grounds.
“All of this illustrates Spielwarenmesse’s special standing as the industry’s most important platform for doing business, placing orders and networking,” concludes the show's CEO.
And it’s one hell of a good show to uncover a new appreciation for pickled potatoes, too.