The media and entertainment brand – Ultra which started out its business journey with Home Video distribution and is a leading player in the film industry, had ventured into the business of soft toys in the year 2017. Madhu Kishore, Business Head at Ultra Toys & Gifts Pvt. Ltd. (a division of Ultra Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.) sheds lights on the legacy of the media group and the strategies espoused for the toy division in this exclusive interaction with Mommy & Baby Times (MBT).
December 29, 2018
MBT: Kindly brief us up about the Ultra Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and the recently established toy division of the brand- Ultra Toys & Gifts Pvt. Ltd.
Madhu Kishore: Ultra pioneers in content acquisition from various production companies worldwide and distribution of various media rights of Indian & International Films, Television Programs, Animation, Digital & other contents in various genres and languages. It specializes in distributing this in various existing physical, non-physical and emerging formats globally. Ultra currently has an exhaustive library consisting of over 1500 titles comprising of blockbuster Indian Films, television serials and other contents and is associated with some of the leading production studios globally. Ultra Toys & Gifts Pvt. Ltd. is a division of Ultra Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Our Soft Toy division is fully equipped to provide our clients an expanded range of services from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM), Original Design Manufacturing (ODM), to Private Label and Special Make Up (SMU) products. Our unit is located in Mumbai and Noida, and our corporate office is in Mumbai itself. We manufacture a wide range of items in many different styles, sizes and colours, such as, licensed animated toys, theme toys, educational toys, objects, animals, festive toys, and more.
MBT: How did the idea of entering into the soft toys manufacturing come about to a brand which is already a leader in the entertainment industry? What kind of marketing strategy has been adopted in this regard?
MK: Being a part of the media and entertainment industry, we have close relations with the owners of many intellectual properties. Since, intellectual properties have a good influence in the market; we came up with an idea of expanding our brand ‘Ultra’. Since, soft toys and gifts have a huge potential market, it led to the birth of ‘Ultra Toys and Gifts Pvt. Ltd’. To initiate, we’ve launched soft toys with characters such as Benjamin, Casper and Jadoo which has received massive response.
“We manufacture a wide range of items in many different styles, sizes and colours, such as, licensed animated toys, theme toys, educational toys, objects, animals, festive toys, and more.”
MBT: What are your perceptions on the presence of the International brands in the Indian toys market?
MK: International brands entering Indian market defines the potential that we have. At the same time, Ultra believes that competition is the mother of innovation. It gives us strength to bring out innovative products in the market. Like in the edutainment section, we have products like puzzles, number and sets of number and alphabetical along with colors and shapes in cube forms. Ultra also has exclusively designed burger and pizza soft toys for kids in appealing colors to fascinate them in its own charming way. Recently, we have entered into an exclusive International licensing and manufacturing contract with Smiley World. It’s the first of its kind International deal of acquiring an exclusive license of 3000 varieties of smiley emoticons from Smiley World – The creators & copyright/license holders of “The original Smiley brand”, United Kingdom. Each product from this Smiley range namely Cushions, Backpacks, Sling Bags, Stationery Pouches, Car Hangings, Plush Balls, smiley stress balls etc. are unique and articulately designed keeping in mind the target audiences majorly the kids and youth. The price range of our products varies from Rs. 199 to Rs. 10,000. The entire collection of products is available in retail and on online shopping sites.
MBT: What kind of support have you been receiving from the Government?
MK: The Make in India initiative by Government of India is been supportive to the local manufacturers. With the increase in custom duty the government is putting restriction on import of the goods. This has led to reduction on imports of soft toys thereby giving opportunities to Make in India products. Additionally, apart from subsidies and exemptions, for the safety of products, the Indian government has implemented safety parameters and each product should undergo BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) testing.
MBT: What is the future plan of action for you and where do you see yourself in the next five years?
MK: We are all set towards exporting goods overseas and are in touch with overseas buyers. There are many deals under negotiation that shall bring out more opportunities. We intend to be a renowned brand globally. We are going aggressively and we will be at the first place in the soft toys category in the domestic market in the coming years.
MBT: What are your thoughts on the prevalence of Chinese toys in the Indian market? How are you planning to combat it?
MK: Earlier, there were hardly any manufacturing units in India; hence, people had to rely on the Chinese products more. But now, with the Make in India initiative, many manufacturing units have been established which has led to a healthy competition in the market. Delivering a product in time plays a very crucial role in deciding the future of the brand. Hence, logically speaking, to import from China we need at least three months’ time whereas Indian factories can deliver the same within 15-20 days, i.e. in a lesser time frame. The Indian manufacturing units are successfully countering it as they are able to deliver the products and services in a reduced time span.
“We have entered into an exclusive International licensing and manufacturing contract with Smiley World… acquiring an exclusive license of 3000 varieties of smiley emoticons.”
MBT: How extensive is your market presence in the northern part of India and how do you plan to strengthen it?
MK: We have dealers and wide distribution networks in the North and as well sufficient market share as far as the stuffed category of toys is concerned. We are mostly targeting corporates and serving them the customized/bespoke services products as per their requirement. Moreover we have been attending major events and exhibitions which are related to the toys industry, including BSMs (Buyer Seller Meets).
MBT: You being a thorough professional in the industry, share your insights?
MK: I always feel that quality, consistency and service are the key factors of success. Communication also plays a crucial role in developing the reputation of a brand. Being into toy industry what is more satisfactory for us is the factor that we are able to spread smiles to zillions of people and this indeed helps to keep the kid within us alive.
MBT: What do you perceive about the participation in the B2B industry exhibitions help you grow in long term?
MK: B2B Exhibitions are platforms where buyers and sellers get to meet under one roof. One gets fair chance to showcase their strength and it ensures that the one comes out with their best. Since the entire industry would be present over there, it is certainly a crucial platform for every toy buyer. Additionally, we also get a chance to connect with new buyers from remote areas and it enables various brands/distributors/traders/retailers to promote their businesses in the industry.