It has been 12 months since The Bugg Report last had the opportunity to speak with Peter Broegger, Managing Director, Asia Pacific for Mattel.
Mattel Asia is a very important part of the growth strategy for the organization given the potential size of the market and the many opportunities this presents for Mattel to expand.
During this time Mattel have been busy growing their business and forging new and innovative partnerships throughout the region. We caught up with Peter to prior to the Hong Kong International Licensing Show to learn about the latest Mattel initiatives and his plans for 2017 and beyond.
Peter, since we last spoke Mattel have been busy announcing exciting new relationships in Greater China. We understand you have recently launched a strategic licensing partnership with Tencent QQ, who is recognised as China’s largest social networking platform. Can you tell us how Mattel will use this technology to engage the market with your business?
Mattel is excited to welcome new industry partners as we work together to create high quality toys for Chinese consumers. More importantly, we are firmly committed to work with Chinese Intellectual Property (IP) owners through in-depth cooperation. QQfamily is highly recognised and liked by youth in China, and we believe Mattel’s strength in IP franchising, product development, brand building and product distribution complements QQ’s strength in the social and technology area.
We are honoured that Tencent QQ chose Mattel to help bring their brand to life through multiple new lines of innovative, engaging toys and online content. We will do this through a strategy that helps Tencent QQ further enrich their well-known QQfamily virtual social IP, and at the same time bring Mattel’s world- renowned expertise in toys and brand building into QQ’s online world.
What will be your top 3 priorities in establishing this important relationship with Tencent QQ?
We want to make sure the QQ family product lines brings joy and innovation to QQ fans across the country. This starts by building a successful franchise together by leveraging our experience in IP franchise development and Tencent’s reach to consumers and fans. More specifically we are talking about social engagement, content and offline product extensions.
You recently spoke at the 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner for the China Juvenile Toy Association. You highlighted the importance of play for young children growing up. What is the role that Mattel can play as a leading innovator in the category?
Play is integral to child development – play is one of the best ways for children to learn and develop, and Mattel has a critical role in this through our portfolio of brands and products. Our corporate vision is to inspire the wonder of childhood and that is a commitment we don’t take lightly. It is about delivering innovative ways to engage children and help parents.
I was interested to learn that Mattel have recently announced the first third-party licensing partnership in China. An agreement with UK based Silvergate Media will focus on the animated series Octonauts. How will this business sit in relation to your overall portfolio of proprietary brands?
We are so excited to expand our partnership with Silvergate. Octonauts is a fantastic preschool brand that encourages exploration, teamwork, responsibility, among many other important preschool values. The brand sits alongside the rest of our preschool brands and o ers a unique proposition to our consumers. Similar to the rest of our proprietary brands, with Octonauts, we will be managing the full set of products from toys to Consumer Products (CP) in partnership with Silvergate. This enables us to be a stronger partner, evaluate the product line holistically, and be brand first.
Do you see Mattel entering into other strategic third-party relationships given your size, standing and infrastructure in Asia?
Absolutely, and we will continue to evaluate which brands and which partners will be best suited for third party relationships.
We touched on Barbie last time, what are the three most notable achievements that you have made in the past 12 months in terms of growth and positioning?
I am so glad you asked this. We are so proud of the achievements we have made with our flagship brand since you and I last spoke. First, at the start of the year, we introduced a more diverse Barbie with different body shapes to reflect the diversity of girls across the world today. Girls want to see themselves reflected in Barbie.
Secondly, we have continued to amplify our Barbie message that: “You Can Be Anything” to girls, to moms, to everyone. We bring this message to life across all Barbie touch points – we show girls and their moms the power of playing with Barbie… that through playing with Barbie, the girl can try on di erent role and realise her limitless potential. We have activated the Brand and this message through events throughout the APAC region and have engaged moms and girls in discussing how they can achieve anything and everything.
Lastly, we launched a Barbie digital video for the APAC region that showed how little girls learn and develop through play – it revealed how girls’ imaginations and creativity skills were unlocked as they played with Barbie – it demonstrated the power of playing with Barbie. The video also showcased some of our newest 2016 innovations too. We are extremely proud of the video as it resonated strongly with consumers across APAC.
We also spoke about Thomas. You raised the enormous potential of this brand and it’s unique gender- neutral appeal. How did Thomas perform in 2016 and what was your highlight?
Thomas has done very well in 2016 and has continued its growth trajectory. One highlight (among many throughout the year) is the series of Friendship Parties we launched in China in September/ October. Our 2016 entertainment tentpole is The Great Race, where we introduce some new friends from around the world, one being Yong Bao, Thomas’ first Chinese engine friend. At the Great Wall, we kicked o a series of Friendship Parties with Thomas and Yong Bao across several cities in China, and we announced a strategic partnership with JD.com. And with Sir Topham Hatt opening the party, it was a moment where you could witness the Thomas Brand inspiring the wonder of childhood for so many – it was just wonderful.
In terms of market sizes in the region, you pointed out that China, Australia and Japan rank as the most significant markets. You also highlighted that China, India and Southeast Asia provided the best outlook for growth. How did this play out in 2016?
This continued to play out in 2016. China, Australia and Japan continue to be the three largest toy markets in APAC. And China, India and Southeast Asia continue to present numerous growth opportunities.
From a growth potential, what was your highlight from the regions perspective for Mattel?
I am incredibly proud of the powerful franchises we have built, Thomas and Barbie in particular. Both brands have grown significantly, and the growth has extended beyond toy, to the entire franchise. Further, our third party strategic partnerships are a testament to our successful approach and ability to be brand and consumer first.
As you rightly point out, there are many challenges both from social and commercial standpoints. How do you see 2017 for Mattel?
I expect another good year for Mattel in 2017. In addition to our core franchises and evergreen brands such as Cars, we are launching a great line up of Asia developed properties and innovative products.
Peter, you are a veteran in the region having successfully executed many important roles for Mattel over the past 20 years, what are the three most significant changes?
Haha! This must be the first time I have been called a veteran. Let me see, the three most significant changes – top of mind – would be first, the arrival of e-commerce and social media, and the ability we have to now communicate and engage with the consumers. Secondly, the growing importance of content and last but not least the continuing digitalisation of our business and the opportunities it represents when applied with thought.
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