In his recent Mann Ki Baat, the prime minister said, “There has been a rich tradition of local toys in our country. There are many talented and skilled artisans who possess expertise in making good toys. Toys are very important for the development of children. India has the talent and the ability to become a toy hub by making toys for the entire world.”
Children are the main market for the toy industry. India accounts for 25 percent of the world’s children below the age of 12 years. India currently manufactures only 15% of its total toy demand. It imports the rest from other countries. 80 percent of toys sold in India are made in China. Non-branded Chinese toys account for 90% of India’s toy market. In fact, China accounts for 70 percent of the global toy market. This indicates the tremendous potential for India’s toy industry.
Why could India not do what China could do? More recently, Vietnam has developed a 400 crore dollar toy industry in the last three years.
India has around 4000 toy units, which are mainly smaller in size. On the contrary, there are toy manufacturing units with thousands of workers in China rolling out huge volumes. The scale of the economy lowers the cost of production. Higher cost of toy manufacturing is impeding the design and development of toys in India. Unviable toy manufacturing results in talent shifting to other sectors. Besides, higher volumes of production creates a much-needed ecosystem. India lacks a robust supply chain due to low turnover.
Toys have a lower lifetime. Children’s preferences change fast, demanding continuous innovation. India has to leverage its information technology to create more intelligent toys which are higher in demand. Quality augmentation is critical for penetrating into the competitive global toy market, which is estimated to be in the tune of 90000 crore dollars. India’s share in this global toy market accounts for only 0.5 percent at 50 crore dollars.
The global suspicion of Chinese market dominance provides India an opportunity to tap into the market vacated by China. China is moving towards high-value toys leaving India an opportunity to tap into the other types of toys. India has a rich history, culture, and heritage that can be an exciting backdrop for innovation. India has to create a robust infrastructure to merge as a global toy hub.
By — Prof K Nageshwar