Source: Mattel/The Toy Book

Steve Totzke, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Mattel, discusses leveraging direct-to-consumer channels and keeping in touch with retailers during the pandemic.

The Toy Book: With major trade shows canceled or on hold this year, how have you connected with retailers?
Steve Totzke: When it became clear that trade shows wouldn’t be happening this year, we immediately pivoted to ensure we could share the innovation and creativity of our latest and greatest products virtually with retailers and other partners.

Although you can never replace the in-person experience, we are proud of our virtual showroom solution and how we are bringing the magic of Mattel (and showmanship you would typically see at our physical trade show booth) to virtual meetings. As part of that, we introduced new ways to experience our products during these virtual events. One small example is how we implemented the ability to conduct a virtual Barbie Dreamhouse tour simply by scanning a QR code. Another is how we have sent early samples to buyers so that they could unbox our toys while we unveil them from afar. 

Of note, going virtual has enabled us to spread the joy of the toy industry to people who would not traditionally have traveled to a toy fair. There is undoubtedly a huge benefit to being able to invite more decision makers into the “room” to experience our products.

TB: Has your direct-to-consumer distribution strategy changed, and if so, how?
ST: We have been leveraging our direct-to-consumer channels as a way to engage consumers with unique products that they can’t find elsewhere.

For example, when the COVID-19 health crisis began, we heard from our consumers that they were having challenges navigating both working and playing from home and [we] launched the Mattel Playroom to be a valuable resource for them. We then introduced #ThankYouHeroes, a line of toys that immortalizes the individuals leading the fight against COVID-19 and the everyday heroes keeping our communities up and running. These items were offered for sale on the Mattel Playroom with all net proceeds going to FirstRespondersFirst, supporting frontline healthcare workers and their families.

Last year, we also launched Mattel Creations, an e-commerce and content platform that features curated items for sale, highlights creator collaborations past and present, and offers a peek into the creative process.

And, we continue to offer products for collectors through our Barbie and Hot Wheels collector sites. 

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of the Toy Book.  Click here to read more!

About the author

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik was the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book from 2020-2022. She was also a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider.