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Barbie dolls maker Mattel eyes 100 Indian cities for growth

The company currently holds 9.1 per cent share of India's overall toys market, with its business mostly concentrated in 10 big cities of the country

Mattel Toys, the maker of Barbie dolls and other popular toys, is focussing on the top 100 cities to enhance its market share to double digits by the end of this fiscal.

The company currently holds 9.1 per cent of share of India's overall toys market, with its business mostly concentrated in 10 big cities.

The overall market size for toys and gaming in 2016 (excluding video games and mobile games) was Rs 32,000 crore, of which more than two thirds was the unorganised market.

The US-based company has high hopes from the Indian market as per child consumption of toys is $1 a year.

Lokesh Kataria

Explaining the reasons to focus on the top 100 cities, Lokesh Kataria, Head of Marketing, Mattel India, said, “There are 378 million kids in India from 0-14 years of age and about 68 per cent of these kids reside in the top 250 towns of the country. As one moves up the pyramid, it actually becomes more concentrated in terms of value, need and concentration. The top 100 in the tier II and III cities are in the growth plan for the company in next few years.”

Kataria said, “We are growing faster than the market and category. Euromonitor data for toys and games industry stated that Mattel had 8 per cent share in 2014-15 and it came up to 9.1 per cent by March 2016. That's a good growth since the toys industry is dominated by imports from China. We are the largest toy company in the country as we are much ahead from our nearest competitor that occupied around 7-7.8 per cent share. We are the leaders for last six to seven years.”

E-commerce has helped the company in expanding sales, and digital marketing is also an important part of the company’s strategy.

"E-commerce has opened up the tier II and III markets and the recent sale on Flipkart and Amazon helped the toys reach each and every corner of the country," he said.

While over 70% of the toy market in India is unorganised, domestically manufactured toys account for a meagre 15%. The rest comes from countries like China, the US, the UK, Korea and Malaysia.

Considering that the core TG of the company includes millennial parents and the kids as young as newborns, digital has become an important platform for the company.

Hence, Mattel Toys increased its digital marketing spends from 5 per cent in 2015, 8 per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent in 2017.

Explaining the target audience of the company, Kataria said, “Our target audience is from 0-14, and the pregnant women for Fisher Price. About 70 to 80 per cent of the parents are millennial, born in or after 1980. Their way of thinking is very different such that the decisions they make are much different from their parents. Earlier the influencers were the relatives and friends and parents but today it is more digital. They want to see the reviews. So, from a brand perspective, it is always better to speak to the consumer directly. Being transparent and truthful in your campaign is important because in today's digital world there are no secrets. Millennial parents are one of our core target audiences.”

He added further, “Smartphone penetration alone has grown by about 50 per cent in last two quarters in India. This increase is because people want to be connected to the world and it is the primary source of information today. As a marketer, there is no other choice and hence digital has become one of the most important mediums today.”

The company recently launched a campaign for its brand Hot Wheels, where it partnered with Rob, the artist. Mattel Toys follow a two-forked strategy from the communications and advertising point of view as also for competition – one is to promote and create awareness about the benefits of playing that the toys are not only discretionary spins and not only for entertainment, they help in serious learning and development of the kid. Explaining the second leg of the strategy, Kataria said, “Being relevant to India is also important to us because India might have one of the largest populations in terms of children but it is also the most value conscious.”

India, for the company, is one of the top four countries in Asia. As per Kataria, India has got world's largest population between 0-14 years of age and the global management recognises that after China, we have been designated as the next growth engine for the company. “Here, opportunity is very big, so the focus on Indian market has always been there and it will only get better 2017 onwards. India is among the top four markets in Asia for Mattel as of now,” he added.

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