Social responsibility in the toy business

A growing opportunity for toy manufacturers
Header_Social responsibility in the toy business

Companies that show they care

Most companies are realising the importance of creating products and marketing strategies that show their brand positioning as a company that cares for various causes. From environmental issues to social injustice, it all comes down to making a difference somehow.

In fact, this is so relevant that Hasbro has recently announced the creation of a Global Purpose Organisation with the purpose of “further activating and accelerating the company’s ongoing efforts to make the world a better place for all children and all families”.

Mattel’s website
Image capture from Mattel’s website. May 2021

The reality is that social factors are being considered by multinationals more than ever, but companies of all sizes are also improving their efforts in this matter as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown periods, most companies are providing support and encouragement to families with children all over the globe. In many cases they are offering free activities and content to have fun with, or even to learn about the coronavirus and how to stay safe. 

In addition to that, some companies have created specific toys to help children during these confusing times. This is the case for board games focused on viruses, some are even specifically about the coronavirus (Covid game by CovidGameCards or Covid cards by Webson Entertainment), dolls with masks (Nancy A day with mask by Famosa), or slime that disinfects children’s hands while they play (Anti-bacterial slime by Canal Toys).

Nancy a day with mask, Famosa
Open Gallery
Anti-bacterial slime, Canal Toys
Open Gallery
Nancy a day with mask, Famosa; Anti-bacterial slime, Canal Toys

Marketing campaigns to make a difference

One way to create a campaign supporting a cause is by collaborating with a renowned non-profit organisation, preferably one your consumers are familiar with. For instance, in a 2020 Christmas campaign by IKEA, the company collaborated with Save the Children to help kids from vulnerable families have appropriate furniture for studying. Also in 2020, Crate & Kids partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute, “a global conservation organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people, animals, and the environment,” to create a line of products, including playthings. 

Cuddle & Kind website
Image capture from Cuddle & Kind website. January 2021

Specifically in the toy sector there are also great examples. For instance, Lego has been a partner with Unicef since 2005. Les Déglingos has created a doctor plush to support Doctors without Borders (Tamalou le fennec – MSF – Medecins Sans Frontiers). And I especially like the company Cuddle & Kind, which, partnering with various organizations, is selling their handmade toys in a way that they provide a specific number of meals to children in need per each purchase.

Beyond non-profit organisations, toy companies are collaborating with all sorts of institutions, such as the World Wildlife Fund: WWF - Endangered Species Conservation (Lego) , National Geographic (Steiff, New York Puzzle Company,…), Terracycle (Zuru, or MGA Entertainment for an L.O.L. Surprise! recycling program,…), One Tree Planted (Le Toy Van), et cetera.

Other companies are creating their own programmes to support and improve the world. This is the case of Spinmaster with The Toy Movement, an “initiative with a mission to create a movement that delivers inspiration, imagination, and joy to children around the world, regardless of circumstances”. With this program, the company has already delivered over 350,000 toys to children worldwide. 

Other examples are the Wild & Soft foundation, a programme by Wild and Soft to support the Zonnegloed wildlife sanctuary in their home country Belgium and the Cikananga wildlife sanctuary in Indonesia. Or the multiple initiatives that Plantoys have been developing for years now, not only supporting sustainable causes but also helping children: Their mom-made toys was a wonderful project in which moms with children with special needs designed toys suitable for their kids.

And the best thing about all this is that the trend towards developing more CSR is not only influencing manufacturers, but also distributors. Last Christmas, there were several campaigns in which toy stores donated part of their benefits to different causes. 

Good companies matter to children and families

As the name of a growing social community and the title of a recent marketing book imply: “Good Is The New Cool”. No doubt, CSR is increasingly relevant in all industries, and specifically for the toy sector, as our main consumers belong to a generation that cares about how “good” your company really is. Social and environmental factors are definitely something to consider in the development of new products and marketing campaigns to be able to be successful in the years to come.

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