Global toy giants Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO have been warned that they will lose big market share if they fail to adapt to the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly toys quickly enough.
LEGO has previously gone on record to state that by 2030, it plans to be 100 per cent green in the products that it supplies the world. However, the eleven year wait for such an event has been labelled as a ‘very long wait,’ for a company that could “make the changes tomorrow if they wanted.”
Job Nijssen, general manager at the sustainable toy firm BioBuddi, has criticised the big three companies for their slow uptake in the eco-friendly plastics space. He has told ToyNews that as more and more consumers see the BioBuddi - and other sustainable brands - on toy shelves, consumers will ask why the likes of Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO haven’t acted quicker.
BioBuddi is a toy building block toy company that uses materials from sugar cane waste to produce its range of environmentally friendly toys.It currently sells into 15 countries around the world. However, having secured the Eco-Excellence award win in the US two months ago, is projecting “big growth” Stateside and will “be distributing to around 20 countries by 2019.”
“By next year, we will be there in the market with a lot of the bigger retailers. Consumers are becoming very aware of the issues around plastic waste and they want to change the way they shop,” Nijseen told ToyNews.
“Yes, price is still getting in the way, but if you look at the food market, people are paying more for the food that is ethically sourced and sustainable. Toys are luxury items, but we are beginning to see the consumer willing to spend more for ‘green’ toys.
“We are expecting to see a lot of growth in the US, in Europe and even in the UK where the message is starting to be recognised by shoppers. Guys like Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO - if they are not responding quickly enough to this change, they will lose their market share.”
Historically, it is the big three that lead the direction of the toy market in terms of trends. However, Nijssen stated that the new consumer mindset has started to turn this on its head.
“The market leaders are always leading the direction for the toys,” added Nijssen. ‘However, now we are seeing a pick up in demand for sustainable toys it is going to become difficult for them. We at BioBuddi are showing them that it is possible.
“We are smaller so we can react faster - we are now pointing the direction and the big companies have to be faster if they want to retain their place at the top of this food chain.”
The team at BioBuddi first entered the toy industry ten years ago, distributing the Chinese toy brand BanBao. However, it was over the last three years that the company changed direction and began work developing its own brand and range of toys made from sugar cane waste material sourced from Brazil.
BioBuddi launched to the market in 2017, landing at a time when demand for the eco-friendly purchase was rising among global consumers.
“Parents are thinking about the future and want better solutions and materials for their child’s products. In the UK, it is less than in Sweden, but it is growing. It just takes time. People see what is going on in the world, and people want to make new decisions to better what is happening.”
A Dutch company, BioBuddi’s position in the European market is strengthened by the European Union’s push to legislate for all plastics to be bio plastics. It’s a big topic for governments across Europe. Where the UK will stand on the issue once Brexit is completed in March next year remains to be seen.
“More and more governments in the EU are moving on bio plastics, there are more and more legislations being put forward and more laws and changes are being imposed. It does all take time, and it may not be this year that we take the market completely, but we see that that is coming,” said Nijssen.