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In November last year, the traditional company Vedes was named “Brand of the Century” for the third time in a row. Luna Journal took this opportunity to talk to Patrick Gottesleben, Head of Marketing, Digital, Research & Managing Director of the subsidiary VEDES ZR GmbH, about toy trends, online retailing and current topics in the industry.
The Vedes AG is a specialized trade organization for toys and leisure articles. Its range includes well-known brands such as Lego, Playmobil, Mattel, Hasbro, Schleich, Ravensburger, Schmidt Spiele, Kosmos and Nintendo. It unites dealers from all over Europe under one roof.
Gottesleben received the “Brand of the Century” award at the book premiere of the “German Standard” in the run-up to the German Business Forum. The book honours successful traditional brands every three years.
You have been making children’s hearts beat faster for 115 years. The “Brand of the Century” award now confirms its success for the third time in a row. What does the award mean to you?
Patrick Gottesleben: Inclusion in the “Who’s Who” of German brands is primarily reserved for traditional companies with unique selling points, a high degree of recognition and great entrepreneurial commitment. VEDES thus ranks seamlessly in the top league of German brands, which we are very pleased about. We are the most important brand in the toy trade and have had an unmistakable profile for 115 years.
What is your recipe for success?
Quite simple: absolute customer focus! We have always been driven by a clear focus on the consumer and serving his needs based on his expectations. We are always at the right place with the right offers at the right time – implemented with the right degree of creativity and innovation.
What is your most important unique selling point?
Vedes is the family-friendly specialist shop where not only children’s hearts beat faster, but above all “valuable family time” is taken home with them. After all, playing connects generations and creates common experience spaces. The Vedes brand stands for this like no other.
Last year, you invested more in digitization. What opportunities and risks do you see for the toy industry in particular?
The growth in the e-commerce sector has grown extremely strongly in recent years. Now it is hard to imagine life without it! We see this as an opportunity and are also taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization to fully exploit all the strengths of our nationwide dealer network. For VEDES, Omnichannel is a strategic decision, which is why we are actively driving forward the development in which the analogue and digital worlds continue to grow together.
Many stationary retailers are afraid of no longer being able to keep up with online trading. How do you assess the situation?
As part of a powerful group, our trading partners can always look to the future with confidence. The Vedes headquarters offers a comprehensive Omnichannel solution that will last for a long time and promises success. It is important that retailers implement digital measures in addition to their local point of emotion. They have to be present on all channels and thus be able to offer their existing and new customers a comprehensive service. The bandwidth is wide: starting with an individual Internet presence or an informative homepage through a detailed product presentation including availability and Click & Collect to your own online shop, there are many ways to show your presence on the Internet.
At the same time, however, retailers should also concentrate on what makes a stationary shop a place and create a place for people who feel welcome. Local, personal, with a heart – this also works in the Internet age. Because if shopping in the shop around the corner becomes a hearty experience – exciting, comfortable and modern – then we don’t have to worry. The haptic aspect of shopping, the fun and the experience cannot be replaced by anything.
You stand for the statement “Playing connects generations”. Which intergenerational trends can you name?
Playing creates common spaces where people can laugh and have fun together and thus strengthen the bond within families and friends. This can be a board game in a fun round or the classic role-playing game with a dressing doll between aunt and niece or an exciting race between grandpa, daddy and grandchild at the racetrack. Everything that is fun regardless of age.
Which articles have been a long seller since the company was founded?
The classic board game, wooden bricks, books, handicrafts, dolls and stuffed animals are real evergreens. Of course, the toys always adapt to the zeitgeist, but the original idea behind the game always remains the same.
Analogue or digital toys – What is more popular with children?
Both, it is a kind of combination of both components. On the one hand, classic toys are getting more and more digital features and are thus taking on a new dimension. On the other hand, trends from the digital world are sloshing over into the analogue world. Current example: Fortnite – the hype surrounding online games has spread to classic toys, because action figures, blaster, textiles and much more are being sold like hot cakes. Nevertheless, books, board games and puzzles are still in demand.
Licensed products are a current topic. They account for around one fifth of annual sales in the toy industry. Which themes are particularly popular at the moment?
The license that we enjoy the most at the moment and probably also in the foreseeable future is clearly “Paw Patrol“. The helpers on four paws make fantastic sales and can easily hold a candle to the big or established top topics. Classics such as “Cars” or “Firefighter Sam” have even been left far behind in the meantime, although these licenses are still making good sales. “Star Wars” also continues to perform well, albeit not at the high level of previous years.
The classic entertainment licenses of the girls are unfortunately having a hard time at the moment. It’s time for “The Ice Queen 2“… but we have to wait until Christmas 2019. Apart from TV and cinema licenses, Schleich‘s “Horse Club” is far ahead. The combination of girls and horses is a reliable sales guarantee, a real evergreen. And of course, we always keep an eye on the social media, because trends are constantly emerging here. That make the rounds incredibly fast – this development is extremely exciting!
At the moment I am particularly pleased about our exclusive Vedes promotion campaign with Disney: Just in time for Easter we are launching a very appealing and full school box on the market. At the front are the “DuckTales”, a new TV series currently being broadcast on the Disney Channel.
The year 2019 has only just begun. What are the highlights of Vedes?
We celebrate 115 years of Vedes and will accompany this event in the coming months with emotional events in our many stores as well as rich discounts online and offline. We also expect a further increase in e-commerce and will continue to optimize our services for the end consumer. Our focus is clearly on “reserving & collecting”, because our competitive advantage is the digitally networked stationary business.
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Link: Vedes will be the third time in a row “brand of the century”