Design, quality and innovation help Chinese firms stand out

It took nearly 20 hours on an airplane for Ma Huini to make it to her first New York toy fair.

It took nearly 20 hours on an airplane for Ma Huini to make it to her first New York toy fair.

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When she arrived, she brought toys produced by her company Ningbo Guangyi Toys Co Ltd at its factory in East China’s Zhejiang province.

Ma’s company was one of around 40 from China at the four-day 2019 North American International Toy Fair in New York.

The fair is important for all toy manufacturers, but especially for those in China. They produce about 85 percent of the toys sold in the United States annually and 75 percent globally.

In the past, Ma’s company had focused on the European market and had little presence in the US.

Now the company is focusing on the US market, with its wooden educational toys for preschool children.

“Clients are looking to cut costs and, instead of designing products themselves, they are outsourcing it to Chinese companies,” Ma told China Daily. “Design costs are high in Europe and the US.”

She said that her company’s design team is working for many big names in the toy industry outside of China.

Many Chinese toy manufacturers at the fair said that they are shifting from mass production of toys to becoming companies that, like Ma’s, produce unique, self-designed toys.

Liu, who gave only her surname, is the sales director for Paulina Industries, which produces creative toys made from slime, putty and sand in Zhejiang province.

She said that in the past, many foreigners associated “Made in China” products with poor quality, and that Chinese companies were only thought capable of manufacturing, with limited capability for design, research and development.

But Chinese companies are now paying more attention to quality and innovation, she said.

“I would say our company’s toys are of a higher quality than most of the toy products made in Europe,” she said, based on her company’s success in the European market.

“We are a little-known name here and did not draw a whole a lot of traffic,” said Liu. “But clients especially like our packaging, design and quality.”

Liu said her company is confident about succeeding in the US and hopes to cooperate with distributors and big retailers familiar with the market.

Shiny Yao, deputy general manager of AIC Magnetics Ltd, an exhibitor at the fair for more than 10 years, displayed his company’s latest products, including magnetic building blocks.

They are “the first of their kind” and outperform others by being safe and easy to play with, he told China Daily.

“We took charge of the entire production process, from R&D of the materials to the design of the products, owning the patents to them,” he said.

Toys are becoming homogeneous in the US market, Yao said, and innovation is the key to standing out.

“There are great opportunities for us as an innovative company that has R&D capabilities and differentiable, self-made products,” he said. (China Daily)

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