The Toy Book caught up with Philip Redmond, CEO of Nikko Toys, about the company’s year since entering the market and various strategies to keep up with the ever-evolving consumer.
Toy Book: What was it like re-entering the marketplace in 2019?
Philip Redmond: 2019 was an exciting year for the team. We had always penciled it in as a “set-up” year, but things have progressed positively and more quickly than we had originally anticipated. The history and legacy of the Nikko and Road Ripper brands meant we needed to be at the top of our game from the get-go. Conscious of the consumers’ and industry’s high expectations of our brands and products, we wanted not only to live up to these expectations, but also to surpass them. Naturally, this came with a lot of self-inflicted pressure.
One of our biggest challenges was finding manufacturing partners who shared our passion and dedication to quality, and thankfully they have not disappointed. Having these top-class manufacturing partners behind us gives us the confidence to design and introduce new innovative functions and features in our toys, the hallmarks of our brands. At the end of the day, that is the reason why we are here.
TB: What is your distribution strategy?
PR: We are all aware that the toy market and retail landscape, in general, has undergone some sweeping changes over the last couple of years. We live in a time of flux with a continually evolving consumer, in which the traditional distribution structure is being shaken up with online merchants and discounters taking up an ever-increasing portion of the market. As the traditional model of selling toys through dedicated specialists continues to diminish, with a burgeoning base of web-savvy consumers, we have had to adapt and come up with new logistics and distribution solutions. At Nikko Toys, we work closely with our local partners to offer complete solutions for the different channels, [because] we can no longer take a position of “one size fits all.” We have had to localize our strategy, offering the flexibility of free on board (FOB) or domestic opportunities in relevant markets. Continuing to develop our network of e-commerce partners and online presence is a key focus for us in the coming years.
TB: How has your distribution strategy changed since the COVID-19 pandemic disruption?
PR: In terms of worldwide distribution and plans, to be completely honest, it hasn’t changed our focus or plans for the year too much. 2020 is only our second trading year, and due to that we will experience triple-digit growth, which meets the targets set out in our medium-term growth strategy.
The varying levels of impact of the virus on different regions, as well as the differing lockdown rules implemented by governments, are out of our control. What we can focus on is having the product readily available and intelligently positioned globally in order to meet the needs of our partners for when the smoke begins to clear, and customers regain that confidence to place additional orders. Next to this, we try to use this time to educate ourselves on how to navigate and answer the growing online demand.
TB: The Nikko brand has been a key player in the R/C category for more than 60 years. How has the brand evolved?
PR: You’re right, the Nikko brand has been a category leader for the last 60 years, and in some markets, it’s even the catchall term for R/C cars. Nikko Toys now continues the great tradition with amazingly innovative R/C that seeks to excite users globally with special functions and stunning performance. We are aware of the continuing evolution in children’s interest as toys go, and we make sure that our products offer the most exciting and impactful features to grab children’s interest. In our experience, kids are still happy to be pulled away from the screen provided they get to play with high-performance or special-function fun vehicles, and that’s what we aim to provide. For us, experience is everything.
TB: What standout products do consumers have to look forward to this year?
PR: The new Color Wheels and Speed Swipe cars from our Road Rippers brand is bringing some sorely missed innovation back into the Lights & Sound aisle. We have witnessed an overabundance of Road Ripper “inspired” items hitting the market in the last 12 months. This space has more and more competitors eyeing just a few feet of available shelf space, but this competitiveness is what drives us and we are committed to bringing back innovation and unique features in the category.
Next to this, we are introducing high-performance Nikko RC Pro and Elite lines. They look awesome and the performance is incredible. Last, but not least, we are launching the special-action drifting vehicle Omni-X. Its unique wheel-in-wheel construction gives driving and drifting another dimension like you never experienced before! »