Globalization and internet to blame.
Most people seem to prefer international toy brands over domestic ones in Bangalore.
“If you see board games, for example, people prefer to buy Monopoly, while there is a game exactly like Monopoly called Business, developed by an Indian company, which I used to play in my childhood. But people have standards and prefer to buy these foreign brands. Similarly, people like to buy the game Scrabble, even though there is a game called WordPower made by an Indian company, which has been around for many years now,” said Yash Pal, owner at The Toy Store on Commercial Street.
He attributed this trend to Indian toy companies not having enough resources to engage in heavy marketing and advertising. “The foreign brands market and advertise their products a lot on the TV and internet, so people go straight for their products when they enter a toy shop.” He added that better packaging, finishing and quality of the brands make them more attractive for buyers.
Aleem Pasha, store in-charge at Sapphire Toys on Richmond Road said, “Customers want something new. If you see Anand Toys, which is an Indian company and makes toys in India, customers look at this and say my child wants a Lamborgini or Transformers.” He said these Indian companies lack variety and do not keep up with modern concepts. “If people bought these toys, we would keep them more, but they don’t,” he added.
Anjum, a mother who was shopping for her eight-year-old son at Toy World in Commercial Street said, “He(her son) likes Lego, Hot Wheels and Transformers, so that’s what he gets as gifts.”
Nitin Mehra, psychologist at Harmony Wellness Concepts said, “Since my childhood, in the 80s, western toys were popular.I don’t see much of the traditional wooden toys or the Indian made toys much.”
He said globalization and the internet definitely has had an impact on this. “Children are attracted more to toys that are more stimulating and that keep their attention.” he added.
“Why many parents prefer the foreign brands is because of safety. These toys are made from BPA free plastic, so the chances of allergies are less,” said Somya, Department Head at Hamley’s in Lido Mall.
A report by the National Productivity Council also said that the negative point about traditional toys can be safety and hygiene aspect.
None of these stores had the cloth and wire dolls that Karnataka is famous for. Channapatna toys another famous name was also missing from the store shelves of these stores. Further, the store owners said that toys made by these small unorganized manufacturers are difficult to procure.
Forty per cent of Indian toy manufacturing units has closed down.
In order to compete, the unorganized sector is filled with a very high percentage of knock-offs of leading Western brands such as Lego .
Yash Pal said “There is not much demand for this kind of toys. The main problem with toys like Channapatna toys is that they are all small scale industries. Procurement from them is difficult and they don’t come by themselves to us to sell their toys.” He added that these toys might sell on the streets and people might not feel like they’re safe.
Aleem Pasha came to a similar conclusion saying that these toymakers don’t approach the stores to sell their goods.
Exponential growth and interest in electronic toys, video games have also contributed to a decline in traditional toys.
The report, by the National Productivity Council, one of its kind, said that the Indian Toy industry urgently needs to upgrade their technology so that they are at a level playing field to compete with the bigger international players like Hasbro, Ravensburger, Lego, etc. It also concluded that the Indian Toy market lacks International market intelligence.