Just back from Melbourne Australia toy fair – the last trade fair in the season and it sure feels good to see one’s family and dog again! Golly Gosh – how my dog has grown!
Five days in Australia, and many meetings later, the euphoric exhaustion is really hitting hard. But it is so worth it. WOW is selling well and the public and retailers love it. With our distribution partner we have installed over 60 stores with full 8ft wide illuminated WOW shopfit displays to really get our branding going and achieve standout. When building a brand it costs money to get ‘cut through’.
WOW will also start supplying major chain store retailers in Australia like Target and David Jones so there is a lot at stake. It has to work first time and therefore we have to spend Marketing Dollars to ensure sales ‘lift off and full orbit’! The big American and Japanese toy companies take up most of the retail shelf space and dominate the toy scene the world over. It’s a bit like coming up against Heineken beer in every bar when so many more interesting and better quality beers exist. You can tell I am an IPA man! It’s the age old problem of giants in an industry dominating with mediocre product and big advertising budgets. How boring! All the more fun to try and beat them! This is all part of the cut and thrust of international business and a similar story plays out for WOW in many of the 50 countries where WOW has distribution. The whole business learns a lot from these experiences which makes WOW stronger and evermore clever in building the UK domestic business. There is nothing like varied experiences to make employees and the overall organisation stronger and fitter – above all more able to win.
The BRICs acronym (Brazil, Russia, India & China) is well known to all of us. I can now say ‘the last BRIC cometh for WOW Toys’. Any week now we will conclude the distribution contract for WOW in China with a large Shanghai based distribution partner – Hurray! It has taken one year of work to get the last BRIC in place but like all building projects it’s not good to be a bric short of a full house!
WOW has been trading in Brazil, Russia and India for a good couple of years now and it was China that remained the most elusive until now. There are some staggering compliance issues to get over which require fastidious attention to detail, money and an all new understanding of the meaning of patience. Basically you are dealing with the Chinese Government. It has not been easy, but then worthwhile things never are.
If WOW can build a house of BRICs then so can all other UK exporters. There is so much money in these countries. You owe it to the long-term future of your business to bank as much of this money as possible – cash is good.
It’s true that pretty much all European markets are as flat as a Shrove Tuesday pancake. Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland etc are horrendously unexciting! So much graft needed just to stay still. However markets like Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro etc are doing very well and buying lots of WOW Toys. Got to get Albania in the mix in time for Christmas!
WOW has distribution in Iran, Israel, Taiwan, Kazakhstan and Russia amongst others and so many of these markets are economically vibrant and spending money unlike closer to home Europe. You just have to ask yourself which countries have the oil, gas and minerals/mining wealth to know who is spending. Then make sure you prioritise these markets and meet potential partners via international trade fairs, inbound diplomatic missions, outbound trade missions and so on. The UKTI is the best organisation to help get this going.
I have said it before - the thrills and spills of foreign trade make boredom an impossibility whilst ensuring a healthy bank balance and instilling strength and confidence in the whole company. There is nothing quite like it. So what are you waiting for?
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse MBE / CEO - WOW Toys
You can watch Nadim talking about selling toys in over 50 countries here