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The Toy Association (US) senior communications specialist Kristin Morency Goldman discusses the organisation's upcoming virtual toy fair. 

Toy Fair Everywhere is a new series of virtual market weeks for the global toy and play community, created by the US Toy Association to fill the void left by cancelled in-person events and meetings that normally occur leading up to the holiday selling season.

Toy Fair Everywhere market weeks are set to take place July 13-19, August 17-23, and September 14-20, 2020 at www.ToyFairEverywhere.com.

"It quickly became clear to us that the pandemic would have a significant and lasting impact on the toy industry, and we recognized an opportunity to provide something positive for buyers and sellers gearing up for Q4 sales," said Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association.

"We had been working on the development of a B2B digital marketplace for the last seven years with our tech partners at Balluun, so we were well-poised to deliver an immediate solution that will keep toy businesses moving forward."

As of this writing, upwards of 130 exhibiting companies have signed on to showcase their brands during one or more of the market weeks, including 3Doodler, Aurora World, Carrera of America, E-Blox, Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids, Goliath, HABA USA, Klutz, The LEGO Group, Melissa and Doug, Safari Ltd., Schylling, Toysmith, TY, Zing, and Wrebbit Puzzles.

Toy Fair Everywhere has already garnered the attention of hundreds of influential buyers looking to round out their shelves through year’s end, including representatives from mass, long-lead, and specialty outlets like Amazon, Gabe’s, Learning Express, Mastermind Toys, Sheetz, Scholastic, Target.com, and Walmart.

Retail buyers and members of the press who attend will be able to browse exhibitors by category, explore a calendar of daily events, and request appointments for virtual demos and chats using the platform.

"With the goal of delivering business continuity and business-building opportunities for as many industry stakeholders as possible, there are no limits on booth availability, which makes Toy Fair Everywhere especially unique compared to in-person shows where booth space is limited," noted Bossard.

"By engaging with customers and prospects digitally, brands will have the opportunity to easily connect with stores looking to fill shelves, notify them of product and shipping availability, and address any shortages the current business environment may have created.

"Toy Fair Everywhere will also be of great interest to the global toy buying community who can participate without the expense, hassle, and worry about travel this year." 

Further migrating the offline, in-person Toy Fair experiences online, Toy Fair Everywhere will feature relevant and timely content, both live and pre-recorded, that highlight the resiliency, drive, and passion of the global toy community.

Among the content currently in development, The Toy Association’s trends team will deliver a mid-year trends presentation using product examples from the Toy Fair Everywhere virtual show floor.

Set to take place during the August market week, the discussion will serve as a follow-up to the 2020 trends presented by the team at Toy Fair New York in February and cover the key influences predicted to impact toy sales up to and into the holiday season.

"We are thrilled to announce that we’ll be offering the same type of enriching content that we have become known for at our in-person marketplace events," added Bossard.

The Toy Association will work with marketplace participants to help them understand and maximize use of the Toy Fair Everywhere platform, guiding them to craft experiences unique to their company and teaching them how to leverage platform’s technology in exciting ways that are simply not possible on a show floor.

"We believe that the need for face-to-face engagement will never disappear, and that there will always be the need for the industry to come together – but the harsh reality is that that cannot happen anytime soon," said Bossard.

"Toy Fair Everywhere, first and foremost, is about moving the business of our members forward. We all need to adapt and face the changes in our world. As an association, we are best positioned to provide this opportunity to the industry, and we are working day and night to make it a solution and a success for everyone in the toy space." 

Exhibitors and buyers can learn more about participating in one or more market weeks at the Toy Fair Everywhere website. 

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