Funskool is a definitive leader in the toy industry. The toy company has truly revolutionized the Indian toy sector and is quickly ramping up its manufacturing capacity, expanding the product range and its market footprint. The three decade old brand has become synonymous with branded toys for Indian kids which has time and again reinvented itself, keeping itself quite relevant in the market and has also redefined its strategies with time.
At the helm of this leading homegrown toy brand, Mr. John Baby, CEO at Funskool India, delves deep into the history of the toy company, the marketing strategies, and the growth of the toy market in an exclusive interaction with Mommy & Baby Times (MBT).
April 18, 2020
The leading toymaker Funskool has truly transformed the toy business in the country, bringing a plethora of toys to the Indian kids. The brand manufactures toys under various brands such as Giggles, Fundough and Handicrafts, and also manufactures toys for some of the leading global names such as Hasbro and SpinMaster. Funskool has recently introduced Japan’s Sylvanian Families, educational toys from the US-based VTech, and eco-friendly wooden toys from Thailand-based Plan Toys in India.
MBT: It’s been more than three decades since the inception of Funskool Toys which is an incredible accomplishment in itself; would you please take us through your business legacy?
John Baby: The last three decades made Funskool an iconic toy brand in the country. For many parents and children, a toy means Funskool toy. Further during the last few years, Funskool has established itself as a dependable toy maker for many global companies who sourced products from Funskool. The brand is a leader in the toy market and has made its indelible mark amongst the kids for a range of toys, and board games.
MBT: Please take us through the set up of the new manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu
JB: The new set up in Tamilnadu is one of the most modern manufacturing units with best equipment for molding, painting, assembling and packing of toys. Currently this unit is primarily catering to the export market. The factory has the best lean manufacturing process which gives immense cost advantage for export business.
MBT: What are Funskool toys’ goals for the next ten years and what future growth do you envision in the toys industry across the globe?
JB: From the financial year of 2020-21, the volume of export business will quite likely overtake the domestic business, since the export growth has been quite exponential. In the next ten years, we plan to start two more manufacturing units of Funskool and we are quite sure that we will be a major supplier to the global toy markets, keeping in mind the growth of the global toy market.
“The new set up in Tamilnadu is one of the most modern manufacturing units…Currently this unit is primarily catering to the export market.”
MBT: What are your different marketing and distribution strategies?
JB: To reach out to the masses and extend the information about our product range, we advertise our products through various means- TV adverts, digital and print media. In-store events, product demonstrations and retailer salesmen training are undertaken frequently by our dedicated and diligent team. We consistently strive to expand our distribution network and our products are now available across the country through a network of over 5000 retailers with whom we have a cordial and long-term association.
MBT: Elaborate on the manufacturing of the Funskool Toys products.
JB: With focus on export markets, Funskool has put in place strict quality standards for toys which finally end up in the hands of the toddlers. Right from sourcing of the raw material till the assembling, packing and dispatch, operating procedures, we closely monitor and ensure that utmost quality standards are maintained of the products we create as well as the ones we distribute in the market. Suppliers we work with are selected with due diligence and assurance as we need to build a relationship based on mutual trust and reliability. The workers are trained to follow best hygiene practices like covering the hair, using hand gloves, etc, while working in the shop floor. The raw materials and finished products are stored in warehouses with moisture control facility.
“We have 15 warehouses across the country and have our sales personnel based in each of the warehouses, who are in constant touch with distributors and retailers… The company services over 700 retail points directly and over 4500 retail points through distributors.”
MBT: What is the current market reach of the brand in the country and also please highlight the presence of the brand in the North Indian region?
JB: Funskool is represented in all cities/ towns of significance in India. We have 15 warehouses across the country and have our sales personnel based in each of the warehouses, who are in constant touch with distributors and retailers serviced from each of the warehouses. We are well represented in North India with warehouses in New Delhi, Ghaziabad and Jaipur. The company services over 700 retail points directly and over 4500 retail points through distributors.
MBT: How important is the role of playing in determining the imagination, creativity, cognitive and the development of other set of skills in a child?
JB: Although play is important for people of all ages, it is essential and most important for children of all ages. Play helps and supports the physical, emotional and intellectual development of a child. Child development is a continuous progressive process across several domains like fine motor skills, social and emotional behavior development, cognitive development etc. Play helps with overall development by stimulating the brain through the formation of connections between nerve cells. Toys and play provide opportunities for practicing thinking skills such as cause and effect, problem solving, symbolic thinking all of which are important elements in expanding a child’s imaginative skills. It also helps hugely improve language and social skills. Play connects children with their imagination, their environment, their parents and family and the world.
Since the developmental needs of children at different ages are different. Hence, children need to be provided with toys and play according to their mental age. Also, it is important to remember children of similar age brought up in different environment will have different levels of cognitive development; which means their mental ages can be different. Toys for babies help them to learn about the world around them with respect to shapes, colours, texture, taste and sounds. Squeakers and Rattles help infants by stimulating their developing vision and fine motor skills. Toys for Toddlers provide them with varied educational opportunities like sorting the shapes, colour, texture, taste and sounds, etc. There are toys ranging from simple alphabet and number puzzles to hi-tech electronic gadgets. These products help the children to understand the things they learn in school, in an easy way. Toys and play are fundamental part child development. Children should always be provided with toys and play meeting the developmental needs of their age to ensure the best outcome.
“We consistently strive to expand our distribution network and our products are now available across the country through a network of over 5000 retailers… over 700 retail points directly and over 4500 retail points through distributors.”
MBT: Since Funskool is associated with many leading international brands such as Hasbro, LeapFrog, Playmobil, amongst others and is also a major OEM player for a number of international toy making companies, could you please elaborate on the OEM venture of Funskool?
JB: Funskool has been engaged in the OEM production activities for a number of international companies such as Spinmaster, Hasbro, Early Learning Centre and many other European companies. The recent political and economic instability generated by the US/China trade war has created plethora of problems for these big Toy multinationals and they were forced to diversify their manufacturing bases out of China. Rising tariffs and Production costs have pushed these companies to move their supply chain outside of China and India is one more suited destination considering the availability of skilled/semiskilled Labour and stable Government.
As many of these big Toy companies cater to global market and their consolidated demand quantity of each SKU is so huge that it requires setting up of large scale operations, which calls for setting up exclusive dedicated manufacturing facility for these multinationals. In the current year we have grown 49 percent in exports. Our Ranipet factory is exclusively manufacturing products for these big toy companies. With the economic slowdown, there has been a slump in the domestic market, however with growth in export business is expected to keep the companies top-line.