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Funskool banks on cartoon characters to create a successful ‘Toy Story’

31-August-2005
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Funskool banks on cartoon characters to create a successful ‘Toy Story’

The Indian toy market, estimated to be in the region of Rs 400 crore, owes more than half of its share to the unorganised segment. But that hasn’t deterred the organised market, and players like Chennai-based Funskool from going full steam.

And the cartoon character-based toys, despite being short-term phenomena, provide a big thrust to the market. Funskool’s Beyblade is expected to add to the company’s current market share of 25 per cent of the organised segment.

Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Pokemon, Powerpuff Girls, etc, have quite literally become playmates and bedfellows of Indian kids through Funskool. Parent company Hasbro’s licensing agreements provide a major differential advantage to Funskool in the Indian market through access to top-of-the-line cartoon characters.

The instant recognition that these characters gained helped, said David Selvaraj, Marketing Manager, Funskool India. Speaking to exchange4media, he said, “The market for cartoon character toys is huge, but it is difficult to say exactly how big the market is. These toys are huge hits, but the buzz is short-term. With Beyblade, which has become a craze with boys, the share of cartoon-based toys may go up to 30-40 per cent of our total revenues this year.”

Because cartoon character-based toys are a relatively short-term craze, the timing of the launch is considered critical. “While in some cases, the launch needs to be planned with the start of the show, for other products, there needs to be a gradual build up over time,” said Selvaraj.

Internationally, the cartoon-character based toys market is far bigger than what it is in India. Lack of control on piracy in India is one of the reasons cited for this. While the pester power of kids continues to make it the largest segment in India, the other segments are negligible.

In developed countries, a relatively healthier chunk comes from teenagers and young adults for products like puzzles meant for a slightly older audience, which haven’t really taken off here.

Of the other product lines that Funskool offers, in the last three years, the ‘Games’ and ‘Creative Products’ have been the best sellers. These are expected to be the major kid-pullers in the coming years, too, besides the cartoon character-based products.

Funskool’s marketing budget is in the range of 5-7 per cent of its sales. Quite recently, it tied up with Cartoon Network for the Powerpuff Girls range of toys. And a few more cartoon characters are coming on board soon, despite the challenges of piracy.

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