Germany-based Simba Toys, which had forayed into India in 2009, is one of the country’s fastest growing retail brand portfolios in the toys and games domain. The company boasts of a range of over 80 brands and 3,000-plus SKUs available in the Indian market. In a candid chat with Pradeep Parmar, Business Head-India, Simba Toys, we learn about the company’s plans and its approach till date towards the Indian market among other interesting insights. Read on….
Vrinda Oberai (VO): “Fifty stores across the country in the first calendar quarter of 2012.” How did you zero in on such an explosive expansion plan?
Pradeep Parmar(PP): India is a huge market more; than 63 cities here have a population of one million and above and many cities have a population base of several million. Hence, 50 stores pan-India in year one would provide recognition to the brand and also provide feedback on our product range from different regional markets.
VO: What is it that you’ve learnt about the Indian market and the consumer behaviour over a period of time (from 2009 onwards)?
PP: It has been a great learning curve. Each region has its specific customer base inclined on preferences. It is a diverse market out there – we need to understand the requirements of our retail partners. They, being in the pan-India market for many years, have guided us in the right direction.
VO: Toys and games are two categories you’re present across and expanded in over a period of time. How has the journey been?
PP: It has been a very positive experience for us. The market segment is emerging as young Indian couples want the very best for their kids. They are aware of international brands and want quality products that add value. Our focus always has been on quality and value. This has been recognised by our retail partners and distributors in the last couple years. The result is an excellent brand presence across India.
VO: How has your experience with licensing been? Any plans to enter into similar deals like the one for ICC World Cup 2011?
PP: Licensing is an important part of our business in India. Moving on from the ICC experience, we now have licensed toys in Cars 2 (Disney) as well as school bags in Marvel Heroes, Spiderman, Avengers, Disney Princess, Dora and Mr. Men and Little Ms categories. Many new interesting license ranges will be introduced in 2012.
VO: What challenges have you faced on the way? Who are, in your opinion, your immediate competitors?
PP: India in a huge market, both in size and geographically. Hence, there are challenges and corresponding opportunities. Building a pan-India sales and marketing team has been a challenge. Modern retail and support distribution channel is new to India. Hence, to find and train the right team is challenging. Our focus has been on investing in human resources by constant training about our product range and sales and marketing support. The toys segment in India is growing at 25 per cent every year. Hence, the market is providing growth opportunities to all key players and new entrants. The most important thing is to focus on your customer base and build your team to serve the growing market segment.
VO: What is the USP of your brand, which sets you apart from the other players in the toys and games segment?
PP: Our focus in the Indian market has been to provide EN71 certified quality product range with excellent customer service. Our products are priced between Rs 49 and Rs 20,000 in the Indian market. With about 800 SKUs in the market, we now offer a very wide range of products to the customers. Recently, we have even started developing and sourcing our product range in India. We have introduced our “Pick a Trick” licensed product range based on the show on NICK channel. The range was conceptualised, designed and produced in India exclusively for the Indian market.
VO: What is your core marketing strategy and how have you modified it over a period of time?
PP: Our core marketing strategy has been to focus on brand building. Our focus has been on communicating with our customers about our product range with a focus on quality and value. VO: What is your target audience and has it expanded over a period of time? What are the innovations that you’ve experimented with during this time? PP: As mentioned earlier, the market is growing at about 25 per cent every year. It is a great challenge to manage this growth and keep all our existing customers satisfied. We are in constant touch with all our customers and interact with them to evaluate the possibility of introducing new product ranges. The introduction of the “Pick a Trick” range is based on such interactions with our customers.