Toy Manufacturers Take Sides

Feb 12, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Toy manufacturers concerned about Wal-Mart’s growing market share in the category and the impact of the retailer’s pricing policies on brand equity have begun offering exclusive roll-outs to toy stores while restricting product access to the mass merchandising giant.

According to an Associated Press report, Wild Planet Toys will make its new Aquapets interactive critter toy available to Toys “R” Us for three months before it will reach the shelves of Wal-Mart and other mass retailers.

Jim Silver, publisher of the Toy Book, told the AP, “Wal-Mart is a very important part of the toy business, but toymakers don’t want its low-pricing strategies to devalue their brands and their business — and put more toy retailers out of business.”

Keeping its customers in business appears to be a primary motivator for toy manufacturers, that have seen Wal-Mart’s influence grow and others, such as FAO Inc., filing for bankruptcy protection.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the actions of manufacturers such as Wild
Planet Toys in restricting the access Wal-Mart has to new product rollouts? Is this taking place in any other product categories?

We couldn’t help but think about a take-off from the Hulk with Lee Scott playing Dr. Banner.

Toy Manufacturer: I’m sorry, but that product won’t be available to you for three more months.

Lee Scott: But Toys “R” Us is selling it now.

Toy Manufacturer: We know that, but we feel it is important to support our most profitable chain of supply.

Lee Scott: You’re making me mad. You wouldn’t like me when I’m mad. George
Anderson – Moderator

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