Toy Production and Consumer Market in China
China is undergoing a profound transformation in toy industry: manufacturers attach greater and greater importance to product quality and application of technologies; distributors and retailers are adapting themselves to sales channels in this Internet era; parents are acknowledging the value of play in children’s growth, which drives demands for toys.
China’s toy industry features intensive production. Major production regions are located on the east coast, where you can find advanced production clusters and mature industrial chain in the following provinces: Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Fujian and Anhui. Among those mentioned regions, Guangdong Province enjoys the leading place in the number of manufacturers, output value and product quality. It is estimated that over 50% toys sold across the world are manufactured in Guangdong.
According to Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of P.R.C., toy sales continue to be brisk from January to July this year with 97.5% output sold. Gross profit reached 5.13 billion RMB, witnessing a growth of 13.2% on the same period last year. On April 8-10 every year, Toy & Hobby China, known as Guangzhou International Toy and Hobby Fair, serves as an influential business platform for manufacturers and buyers from home and abroad. Based on statistics released by General Administration of Customs of P.R.C, the value of Chinese toy exports reached approximate 24.8 billion US$ from January to September this year, an increase of 9.62% on the same period last year.
A great number of potential newborns generate a bright future. At present, there are 222 million children in China. In the year of 2015, the annual domestic sales was approximate 65 billion RMB. At the end of 2015, the universal two-child policy was set to bring extra millions of newborns in the years to come, indicating rapid-growing demands for toys and infant articles. This is a great opportunity for toy industry.
DJI, a world-famous brand of drones, is based in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, which is also home to hundreds of R/C toy manufacturers. For example, Guangdong Attop Technology Co. Ltd, which launched Independence Day: Resurgence movie licensed R/C artifact toys, offering movie fans a wonderful driving experience; Huina with R/C construction vehicle toys as its feature products and Double Stars featuring R/C cars.
Guangdong Province owes its advanced status in R/C toy production to mature industrial chain and great investment in innovation. After years of development, manufacturers here enjoy ample supply of raw materials and parts, including plastic, electronic components and metal parts. Years of manufacturing experience makes high efficiency possible. And high investments in research staff and facilities drives continuous innovations. Now China has shaped its own technical advantage in R/C toys thanks to computer aided design and production, as well as integration with new acoustic and opto-electronic technologies.
Baby Toy Segment Expanding
Preschool segment has become an attracting field for toy manufacturers. For recent years, toy sales in conventional distribution channels such as supermarkets and department stores become flat in big cities and declining in small and medium-sized towns. Thus searching for a new vigorous channel becomes a significant task for toy companies. The lately emergence of maternal/infant care segment draws attention from the industry. With maternal/infant care product stores everywhere in streets, sales of baby toys is booming.
Many Chinese parents are big fans of International brands like Fisher-Price and Little Tikes. Now homegrown brands are working hard to catch up their International counterparts. With a high expectation for baby boom in coming years, Huile, Auby, Winfat, Goodway and Nanguoyingbao are speeding up their pace in product research and development in order to provide Chinese children with more safe and reliable toys.
Wider Application of AI Technology
A match between Google's AI program “AlphaGo” against Lee Sedol, a Go World Champion earlier this year triggered a craze about AI sweeping across China’s toy industry. Big companies such as Alpha, Lung Cheong, Goldlok, Shifeng and Tianheng Kids applied AI and speech recognition technology to their new releases.
Current robots for children on Chinese market are supported by cloud databases, which collect and analyze enquires from users. The more interactions with users, the smarter robots become. For example, when the user says “Move forwards!” or “March!”, the robot will recognize those orders and go forwards. In the past, however, robot only recognized fixed orders for corresponding actions. This is a big progress.
New technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and holography have been applied in segments of remote controlled toys, plush, and preschool toys as soon as they got heated. These featured products are no longer rare on current Chinese market. The prevailing visual play on the market is AR educational toys targeting preschoolers at the age of two to four.
International toy brands are speeding up their steps into China. General Administration of Customs of P.R.C. announced that, for the first six months in 2016, the value of imported toys reached 663 million US$, up 120.2% from the last year. Some International toy giants open the door to Chinese market through close cooperation with Chinese local toy companies. Playmobil and Simba Dickie Group are the two examples. In addition, the rapid developing cross-border e-commerce in China opens up a new prospect for small toy business abroad.
Ever since its initial entrance in China in 2006, American toy retail giant Toys “R” Us now is running 100 stores in 44 cities across China. Its expanding steps never stop here and probably will accelerate in years to come. In October 2016, Hamleys’ first flagship store in China opened in Nanjing. In this nearly-7,000 sq.m. store, you can find enormous fine toys.
Animation Licensing Heating up
In China, brand licensed products are always popular. A hot animation on air often drives up the sales of its licensed products. Mini 4WD, upgraded spin tops, yo-yo owed their high sales to related animations in recent years. After its broadcast in China, Peppa Pig achieved high ratings either on TV or on online video websites, making the brand as well as licensed products beloved by preschool kids in China.
According to monthly and quarterly retail surveys by Toy Industry magazine, licensed toys from domestic and international brands remain strong this year. Hot licensing brands include Super Wings, GG Bond, Boonie Bears, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf and Armor Hero from China, and International licensing brands such as Peppa Pig, Robocar Poli, Frozen, Amazing Car, Thomas & Friends and Marvel Heroes.
The success of animation licensed toys has close connection with popular animation brands. Bestseller licensing brands often overlap with popular animations. Hot licensing brands mentioned above-Super Wings, GG Bond, Boonie Bears, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf and Armor Hero-are also top rated animations. Top rated international animations include Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Shin Chan and Naruto.
More Chinese Brands on Global Market
Cross-border e-commerce is not only a door towards big Chinese market for international brands, but also a high way connecting the global market for Chinese toy brands. With more and more Chinese manufacturers establishing their own brands, they are stepping on the global market under their own brand names. In addition to international toy fairs, they resort to International B2C cross-border e-tailing platform, such as Aliexpress, Amazon, eBay, Wish, LightInTheBox and DHgate. These websites bring a world of China-made toys before you on the screen.