Marian Bossard, executive vice president, global market events, The Toy Association speaks to TNP about Toy Fair Everywhere. Set to be rolled out as a series of virtual events, Toy Fair Everywhere is designed to help fill the void left by cancelled events and face-to-face meetings that normally occur leading up to the holiday selling season. During these unprecedented times, Bossard explains how this series of market weeks may present a great solution to connecting toy businesses with their customers, suppliers, and the global play community.
Where did the idea behind Toy Fair Everywhere originally come from?
It quickly became clear to us that the pandemic would have a significant and lasting impact on our personal and professional lives, and we recognised an opportunity to provide something positive for the global toy and play community.
Along with our tech partners at Balluun, we had been working on the development of a B2B digital marketplace for the last seven years, so we were well poised to deliver an immediate solution for sellers and buyers gearing up for Q4 sales. Toy Fair Everywhere will be rolled out as a series of virtual market weeks to help toy businesses connect with their customers, suppliers, and the global play community to fill the void left by cancelled events and face-to-face meetings that normally occur leading up to the holiday selling season.
We understand that there will be three virtual seven-day market weeks for 2020 – can you give us a bit of information about the organisation of this virtual event.
The market weeks are scheduled to take place during three designated seven-day periods – 13-19 July, 17-23 August, and 14-20 September 2020. During market weeks, attendees will browse exhibitors by category, explore a calendar of daily events, and book appointments for virtual demos and chats. Further migrating the offline, in-person Toy Fair experiences online, Toy Fair Everywhere will feature relevant and timely content, both live and pre-recorded, that highlight the resiliency, drive, and passion of the global toy community.
We’re excited to be providing the industry with the opportunity for their businesses to forge ahead even in the current climate.
Who is invited to Toy Fair Everywhere? And how do you get on the guestlist?
Our goal is to deliver business continuity and business building opportunities for as many industry stakeholders as possible. Unlike in-person shows where floor space is limited, there are no limits on booth availability. We anticipate this digital option will be of great interest to the similarly challenged global toy buying community who can participate without the expense, hassle, and worry about travel this year.
Exhibitors can participate in all three market weeks for a flat rate of $650. The rate to participate in two market weeks (August and September only) is $500. For information about exhibiting, companies may contact Simon Yung (firstname.lastname@example.org) (companies A-M) and Leigh Carleu (email@example.com) (companies N-Z).
One of the best bits about Toy Fair New York is the great atmosphere. It’s an event that really creates a sense of togetherness. Do you have any ideas about how you can recreate this in a way that does not require attendees to be physically face-to-face?
Digital cannot and will not replace the atmosphere of a live event. To suggest otherwise would be foolish. Toy Fair Everywhere, first and foremost, is about moving the business of our members forward. Our digital market weeks are meant to supplement in-person meetings – not replace them. We like to say that our job is to “help more members sell more products more often.” This platform supports that. We believe that the need for face-to-face engagement will never disappear and that there will always be the need for the industry to come together – but the harsh reality is that that cannot happen anytime soon. Digital B2B is not going away and we believe it is time for the industry to embrace a digital option as an enhancement to the way we now do business. By engaging with customers and prospects digitally, brands will have the opportunity to pick up the pace on conversations, easily connect with stores looking to fill shelves, notify them of products and shipping availability, and address any shortages the current business environment may have created.
People attend fairs to touch products and hold them in their hands. Obviously, via virtual channels this will not be possible. Do you have any thoughts about how suppliers can help show their products in the best way?
Leading up to the market weeks, The Toy Association will work with marketplace participants to help them understand and maximise use of the Toy Fair Everywhere platform, guiding them to craft experiences unique to their company.
Just as one prepares to participate in any event, setting goals and developing a message is important. It’s important not to forget the basics of your business. Just because you are moving to a digital display doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send out samples in preparation for remote appointments you may take during any one of the weeks.
A recording of our 7 May webinar for prospective participants explains the features and benefits available to participants. With Toy Fair Everywhere, you can leverage technology in exciting ways that are simply not possible on a show floor, and we think our participants will quickly see the value in that as they get to know the platform.
Do you anticipate that there will be opportunities to integrate elements of Toy Fair Everywhere into the next Toy Fair New York event, making it more affordable and accessible to those in the industry?
I am hopeful that all our events will have a digital component. How we bring that to life is to be determined but we do know that these digital experiences are a growing necessity that will not simply go away once the pandemic is over.
Do you have anything further that you would like to add?
We all need to adapt and face the changes in our world. As an association, we are best positioned to provide this opportunity to the industry, and we are working day and night to make it a solution and a success for everyone in the toy space.