Tuesday, November 24, 2009


One major pain point that could cause frustration for salespeople in 2010 is the February 10, 2010 CPSIA “STAY” or “GONE” decision by the CPC. Many manufacturers and distributors will be lobbying for the CPSIA "STAY" extension that is expiring in February. Every industry discussion group I have attended indicates that the STAY will be GONE effective 2/10/10, which means the full requirements of the law will go into effect.

All Children’s and Child Care products manufactured after 2/10/10 will require an independent laboratory safety report before it is distributed. Products distributed without approved safety reports will be subject to substantial fines. This is important to salespeople who are thinking about selling stuffed plush toys this year. While your target market is clearly designed to reach audiences over 12 years old, the CPSIA may not support that decision if your promotional strategy looks like duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a Children’s Product or Childcare item.

Here are a few of things to expect from your trusted industry suppliers:
  1. Increase minimum order quantities to offset the fixed cost of safety testing.
  2. Safety testing now a standard component of product unit cost.
  3. Separate line item analysis for toy safety testing.
  4. Manage product safety from design to delivery including coordination with testing laboratories.
In order to battle this frustration, Artistic Toy will assist salespeople with strategies and case studies to look beyond the plush toy product and see into the exciting world of Character Marketing (TM). A Character Marketing (TM) campaign will provide salespeople the unique selling proposition to provide reasons to increase order sizes and further substantiating the testing costs. Challenge yourself to have a forward thinking approach to the fact that the STAY is GONE. You can seize this opportunity to discretely raise the bar for your client's advertising campaign. Instead of facing this challenge as a road block, use it as a tool to increase the purchase decision beyond a singular product and look at the broader campaign.

While facing the new safety requirements you should also be aware of some of the other challenges that will arise:
  1. Increased delivery timing because more samples and approvals will need to be received before products are moved into production.
  2. Toy Safety testing is required to be performed by an accredited laboratory.
  3. Every product component must be individually evaluated for testing creating a variable price structure for independent toy testing. On average, prepare your client for spending approximately $1,000 to $2,000 for this testing.
  4. Pricing for testing varies significantly between accredited safety laboratories.
  5. Work with a supplier that understands the testing requirements and the design elements of your product so they can explain to your client's legal departments the requirements and negotiate with testing laboratories so you are not overcharged or delayed in production timing.
This is your opportunity to expand your client relationship and dig deeper into their business strategy. Call Artistic Toy if you need help developing a program that quacks as loud as AFLAC and won’t be stopped by CPSIA.

Key Decision Dates to Navigate the Beginning of your 2010 Sales Cycle

Whether you are an industry veteran or newcomer, this is the time of year that suppliers talk about the impact of Chinese New Year on product delivery. The recognition that that world tilts off its axis for about 30 days can be an uneasy time for those of us in the Western Hemisphere. It never fails that the biggest clients always want to push up against the Chinese New Year and demand orders placed in December deliver before the end of February. We have always advocated on our client’s behalf to encourage the factory to rush the production or stop the workers from going home; however, it is a battle we have yet to win.

There seems to be an inevitable cycle of misunderstanding, frustration, and then remorse with salespeople and clients. In order to better equip you for the beginning of your 2010 selling season, we want to arm you with critical facts and important information about several key dates. You might want to print this out and put these dates and topical discussion points in your sales toolbox to battle the frustrations.

The annual frustration point to address is the February 14, 2010: Chinese New Year. We are fortunate to work in an industry where our clients are not dying on tables. Help yourself avoid remorse by being honest with your deadlines and work with your supply partner as if they have a vested interest in your success. If you don’t feel that way, get away while you can. The other pain staking truth is yes, it is going to cost more. The amazing thing is clients remain loyal and pay more for problem solvers. If your client has an important business problem to solve or key objective to meet in Q1, they will approve the resources necessary to get the work done.

Before you get approval to enlist herculean resources, you should know more about Chinese New Year and critical dates. Artistic Toy’s stuffed plush toy factories will be operating on the following holiday schedule:
  • Saturday, January 30, 2010
The last of all the managers and employees will have left the factory to visit their families in different provinces far from the factory’s city.
  • Saturday, February 14, 2010
February 14, 2010 marks the first day of the Chinese Year 4,707. You may have wondered why Chinese people live longer than other cultures. It’s because on the Chinese New Year, everyone becomes one year older. There is also an old Chinese secret you should know about. The New Year starts on a different day each year and is shorter than our 365-day year. So the year of the Tiger starts on February, 14 2010 and ends on February 2, 2011, while the following year of the Rabbit begins on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 27, 2012.
  • Saturday, February 27, 2010
All of the factory employees, who are likely to return to the factory in 2010, have arrived and are ready to resume production. It’s helpful to know that the Chinese New Year has significant cultural and economic implications on the workers and the factories. A growing percentage of factory workers do not return to the factory after the holiday season every year. So while a majority of the factory is back in operation by the end of February, you can expect to see a slower production line because some of your workforce has not returned and some of the workforce will be new and inexperienced.
  • Saturday, March 20, 2010
This is the expected sailing date for the first container leaving after the Chinese New Year holiday. When the factory closes its doors for a month they clean everything off the production line. In the perfect scenario your order molds, proofs, and fabric are all complete and sitting there ready to start production on February 27.

This Chinese New Year calendar can be a big frustration point for some clients; however, if you can communicate clearly the key decision dates below you will reclaim your prowess as the go-to product and campaign planning advisor. Encourage your clients to make quick decisions and get approvals back to you to achieve the following results:

Key Decision Dates

While these key dates are helpful, it’s also good to offer your clients alternatives like a partial order delivery by air freight or an alternative product from our stock plush toy line. Let’s challenge ourselves and our customer service team members to think creatively and provide positive energy into the process we know will consume many as the limitations prevail.