Kirsty Mackenzie, Head of Marketing at Bandai UK, speaks to TNP about a couple of the ranges in its portfolio that have proved particularly popular with families during the Covid-19 crisis.
With families spending more time than ever indoors, and parents largely home-schooling their little ones, Bandai UK has seen a spike in sales of its National Geographic Kits and Sea Monkeys over the past few weeks. MacKenzie explains why these ranges in particular are perfect for keeping children both entertained and educated during lockdown.
What products does your company have to offer that are perfect for families to play with in the house or garden?
The National Geographic Dig Kits and Sea Monkeys are perfect for families and children. The science and nature category is proving a strong, solid part of our overall business portfolio, and we’ve seen a real spike in sales over the past month. The National Geographic brand itself is an authoritative and trusted source of scientific and educational fact and we are continuing to refresh the range with new product launches to complement the core lines.
Our Dig Kits are some of the brand’s best-selling lines and for 2020 we have added to the collection with the introduction of the Crystal Garden which blends scientific experiments with art. The low price point is an attractive pull for investing in a hands-on learning kit for under a tenner and with the benefit of being associated with a credible and instantly recognisable global organisation. The kits are fun, engaging, while educational at the same time so a win-win.
We will also be introducing Super Kits for the AW/20 period, which include multiple real-life specimens and diorama playscapes for conducting experiments.
And our Original Sea Monkeys range is a perfect introduction to caring for animals and demonstrating responsibility and nurturing. The brine shrimp can be hatched in themed tanks – such as Ocean Zoo, Volcano Zoo, which include everything needed to help them hatch. RRP is around £10 which is an affordable option – something that is especially important right now – that can allow kids to get hands on with creating and looking after their own pets.
How can these kinds of toys, games and playthings benefit children and their families?
I think anything that can get kids hands-on and enjoying themselves is the overriding benefit! Both ranges encourage fun and engagement combined with the joys of investigation.
Have you been able to get your products to retailers that remain open during these unprecedented times?
Yes, we are still receiving orders and sending them out. Our warehouse continues to operate as normal and so we are ready to fulfil any retailer orders.
In terms of retail, where has your attention been focused during lockdown?
The lockdown has focused our attention on those retailers who can trade online. We are supporting these retailers with as many digital assets as we can gather to ensure that retailers have all the relevant info to be able to sell to consumers in this challenging time.
We are lucky to have two ranges within our portfolio – National Geographic and Sea Monkeys – that are perfect for families stuck indoors. Both ranges have an educational aspect and sales have increased dramatically since the lockdown came into place, we assume from parents looking for educational and fun ways of keeping their kids occupied!
Do you think that traditional toys will continue to have a strong year once lockdown lifts and shops are able to reopen?
Yes, we believe that sales will resume once lockdown lifts. The strength of the sales will depend on the timing of the removal of the lockdown and unfortunately also, the state of the retail market. We are aware that the longer the lockdown continues, the bigger the impact on our independent and some of key customers. There will always be a demand for toys and fingers crossed we can all return to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible.