Mattel India charts a new journey

By Viveat Susan Pinto , Business Standard, Mumbai | In Marketing | October 05, 2016
With a new country head in Ishmeet Singh, the firm is putting the building blocks in place to grow.

The world's largest toy maker has put a new management in place led by ex-Vodafone India business head Ishmeet Singh after senior-level exits at Mattel India.

47-year-old Singh, who took over as country head recently from Peter Broegger, managing director, Asia-Pacific, Mattel Inc, who was directly overseeing the Indian operations for nearly a year now, said he intended to take the local operation, currently ranked fourth in the region, into the top three club in the next few years.

"That would be the ambition I would be working towards," Singh told Business Standard.

"The Indian market is evolving. And with the burgeoning middle class, the propensity to spend is only growing. Companies like ours can tap into this opportunity with our brands. That would be the objective I would have of getting into the top two to three club of markets in APAC," he said.

Mattel India, according to industry estimates, has an annual turnover of Rs 300-400 crore. The plan is to at least double this in the next few years to be able to go past markets such as South East Asia, Japan-Korea and Australia-New Zealand to break into the top league in APAC.

The leading market for Mattel in APAC remains China, which is also a large traditional toys and games market, a segment where Mattel operates.

Markets such as Japan-Korea and Australia-New Zealand are increasingly veering towards video games, say industry experts, leaving markets such as India as potential growth drivers for Mattel, where traditional toys and games are still large.

According to industry estimates, India's traditional toys and games market is nearly Rs 3,000 crore in size.

The market for video games, on the other hand, is half of that at Rs 1,500 crore. Apart from Mattel, some of the other players in traditional toys and games include Funskool, which has tie-ups with brands such as Hasbro and Lego, and Simba.

Singh says his plan of action will include not only launching new products in the spring and autumn, but also looking to improve distribution and penetration into small towns and cities.

Mattel's top three brands in India include Barbie for girls, Hot Wheels for boys and Fisher Price for preschoolers. Price points of Mattel products typically start from Rs 99 going up to Rs 5,000, with metros and mini-metros being its key markets.

Mattel, according to Singh, may also consider increasing local sourcing and manufacturing from the current 15-18 per cent of its total toy portfolio in India as it works on improving demand for its products. The company is also evaluating setting up a local manufacturing unit to get a better handle on production, currently outsourced to third-party manufacturers.

The distribution plan will include not only getting more "feet on the street" across cities, but will also include tying up with pre-schools for events, educating mothers and conducting mall activations. The company is also reaching out to its target audience of kids and mothers through sponsored content on kids' channels.