In the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A, The Toy Association’s President and CEO Steve Pasierb addressed a number of issues facing the toy industry, including a resolution to tariffs, counterfeit toys, and more.

What are the biggest challenges facing the toy industry as we head into the year, and how is The Toy Association addressing them?
No. 1 is reaching a resolution to the tariff war. Though a phase-one trade deal has been signed, unpredictability continues to linger, and earlier rounds of tariffs continue impacting toymakers. There are a host of state and local regulatory threats that add nothing to existing federal requirements but could make it near impossible to sell toys in some jurisdictions, so each of these has the sharp attention of our external affairs team.

Intellectual property (IP) protection and stopping counterfeit toys sold via online marketplaces remain top priorities of our IP committee and an ongoing risk to kids’ safety. Helping members navigate a transforming retail world; sustainability both in packaging and product; and fostering creativity and innovation across the toy and play community through our own Creative Factor programming and direct support of organizations, such as Mojo Nation, FIT Toy Design, Otis College Toy Design, and ChiTAG: These are some of the key activities we will be focused on this year.

What are The Toy Association’s key initiatives for the year ahead?
Certainly, addressing all the challenges just mentioned — tariffs, taxes, regulatory threats, IP infringement, counterfeit toys, the evolving retail environment — all head the list. We are already hard at work on a fresh vision for Toy Fair New York in 2022 and beyond, given the opportunities presented by a larger Javits Center. With an unpredictable political and regulatory environment, swiftly changing consumer preferences and shopping behaviors, and a host of other issues, we are reexamining all our strategic priorities a year earlier than the conclusion of our current strategic blueprint. Foremost will be those initiatives that might fall under a heading of “sell” — that is, helping our members innovate, find new opportunities, grow, and prosper here at home and in markets around the world. Protecting our members’ businesses is another key pillar, by ensuring the continued ability of our members to do business in the U.S. and global markets. Finally, emphasizing our ability to be an adaptive enterprise continually sensing and responding when opportunity is hot — or before threats have taken root — and doing so with strategic agility and measurable results.

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!