Crisis means change – but also opportunities. What influence does Corona have on a more sustainable toy and children’s furniture industry?
Who would have believed in a world like this in January of 2020? Lockdown, stock market crashes and millions of people out of work. Covid-19 not only has a significant impact on the healthcare system, but also poses enormous social and economic problems and therefore is also changing the toy and children’s furniture industry.
Speaking of the positive effects the virus may have seems to be wrong at the moment. Still, some people see this pandemic as a chance to finally change the directions. True to the motto: When (almost) nothing works anymore, new ideas need to come up. That’s also how Alain de Rauw, head of sales for the sustainable toy manufacturer Plantoys, sees it.
Alain de Rauw head of sales PlanToys
Ever since its foundation in 1981, the company has been producing every of their toys – from the first sketch to the packaging – in its home country Thailand, only using natural resources and recycled wood. As a result, Plantoys was independent of long supply chains and materials from other countries and therefore was able to continue its production even during the lockdown – taking into account all the necessary protective and hygienic measures.
Submarine sustainable toy by PlanToys
For other sustainable companies it also paid off that they use a direct way to make their products. COCLICO, a german brand, which produces growing-with-you-furniture, is completely made in Germany and therefore brand owner Elise Opezzo-Burger concludes:
“The possibility of remaining in direct contact with the producers and suppliers and not being hindered by travel restrictions to other countries or even just federal states ensured us that the production flowed as smoothly as possible.”
coclico eco-friendly design children’s furniture
Corona – a change to become more local
In recent decades, mobility has increased considerably, and companies and customers have benefited from a wide range of goods at reasonable prices. So instead of producing locally at home, many companies preferred to relocate to low-wage countries. Environmental problems and social distortions were deliberately taken into account and sacrificed for a rapid economic growth. Funnily enough, it is precisely this globalization that is now ensuring that the world is stopping. The question is: will this temporary calm lead to a bitter awakening?
Alain de Rauw believes that many companies have to “learn to use the advantages of globalization properly instead of continuing to exploit its opportunities – and thus the environment.” A great example of this is also TicToys. The toy brand produces each of its products in its own home country Germany. “Right from the start, we try to keep the distances in our production as short as possible and thus tried to damage the environment as little as possible”, explains Matthias Meister, who founded TicToys together with Tony Ramenda in 2010 in a student flat share in Chemnitz. “Of course, there was also a certain pragmatism in it. Communication with suppliers is much easier when you can visit each other quickly.” Of course, some locally produced toys like this can easily be a bit more expensive than plastic dolls in the big toy store, but: “Many don’t believe that it is even possible to produce in Germany and at the same time offer the toys at a ‘reasonable’ price.”
Binabo eco-friendly construction toy by TicToys
Social media usage in times of Corona
Another plus for toy and children’s furniture brands during the time of corona is the right use of social media. In order to appeal to the right retailers and parents, independent and sustainable brands often rely on social media. Companies like ecoBirdy from Belgium are increasingly active on Instagram – and for a good reason: they have a story to tell. Companies like them, who make designer children’s furniture from recycled plastic, are proud to share these story with their customers. Therefore, online stores and concept stores are deliberately chosen as retailers.
ecoBirdy sustainable design children’s furniture
Alain de Rauw, from Plantoys, explains this as follows: “Even before the outbreak of the virus, we already had a strong commitment to social media, which enabled us to build up a solid online customer base. In addition to that, many small concept stores that carry Plantoys toys are also heavily involved in social media. This leads to a considerable increase in our level of awareness and potential customers get to know us. At the same time, we use social media to build a special closeness to customers who already understand sustainability and can appreciate our work.”
Sustainable products are become more popular with customers
In fact, many sustainable companies such as Plantoys were even able to increase their sales during the Corona pandemic. In its global consumer study 2020, IBM surveyed almost 20,000 consumers on their consumption behavior and revealed that the consumer behavior has changed fundamentally. For about 80% of the respondents, sustainability is one of the most important issues now.
And because children wanted to be kept meaningfully occupied during the lockdown, sales of board games and creative toys also heavily increased. A big success for smaller companies that are counteracting in a consumption-oriented world with extraordinary ideas.
Pappka eco-friendly creative toys by Musekind
Just Blocks natural wooden building blocks
Green boom after Corona?
Perhaps, as Alain de Rauw also hopes, “the pandemic will finally trigger a reflection on how people relate to their health and the natural environment – but also on healthy relationships in economic life.”
Plastics and mass production at least do not seem sustainable at the moment. Those who rethink and find sustainable solutions with the help of suitable technologies can become part of a long overdue change, which the British economist Ernst F. Schumacher already called for in 1972 in his book “Small is beautifull”.
“Small Is Beautiful:
Economics as if People Mattered”
Ernst Friedrich Schumacher
Penguin publishing house