Should you attend Nuremberg Toy Fair

After my most recent blog, two retailers called and asked me if they should be attending Nuremberg Toy Fair.  After getting over the shock that two retailers actually read my blog, I thought about their question.  It is an interesting one.  Here are my thoughts. 

Firstly, the official name of Nuremberg Toy Fair is Spielwarenmesse - which doesn’t really roll off the tongue - hence I will continue to refer to the tradeshow as Nuremberg Toy Fair.

Founded in 1949, Nuremberg Toy Fair is the largest toy tradeshow in the world.  Over 2,900 companies exhibited this year, attracting more than 70,000 visitors from 129 countries.  To compare, this is more than double the number of companies that exhibit at New York Toy Fair.  And unlike New York Toy Fair - which has a very North American centric feel - Nuremberg Toy Fair has a distinctly international feel.  To me, it feels even more “international” than Hong Kong Toy Fair.

There were 23 exhibitors from Canada, including 4D Cityscapes, Battat, Bojeux, PlaSmart, Spin Master, and of course Outset Media.  Interestingly, 9 of the 23 exhibitors from Canada are based in Quebec, which gives Quebec-based companies a disproportionate representation in Nuremberg.  I wonder why?

Several Canadian retailers do attend.  But to be frank, most of these Canadian retailers will stop by our booth to say “hi” but move on, knowing they will see us later in February in New York.  Canadian retailers are there to look for companies that don’t exhibit in North America.

The challenge for most independent retailers of course, is most product would need to be imported from Asia or Europe.  This isn’t practical when importing small quantities.  Most of the Canadian retailers that do attend have the volume that would allow them to import economically.

But does this matter?  If you are in the industry, being able to visit the largest toy tradeshow in the world is something to behold.  It really is something you need to experience to truly appreciate.  From a pure financial basis, it is unlikely to make sense for independent retailers to attend.  But from a professional curiosity basis, I do recommend toy retailers try to make the trip at least once.

It helps that Nuremberg is a great city to visit, with a beautiful walled old town.  In addition to the tradeshow, there are many interesting things to see.  The city is very easy to navigate (even if you don’t speak a word of German), with a superb subway system that takes you right to the convention centre.  There is no need to take a taxi anywhere.

The biggest drawback is the price of hotels.  The hotel we stayed at this year - which was a 3 star hotel on a good day - cost CDN $339 a night.  I just checked, and that same hotel can be booked right now for CDN $65 per night.  If you are willing to stay a 30 minute train ride outside the city, reasonably priced hotel rooms can be found.  Both the subway and local trains are free for visitors to the show.

Next year, Nuremberg Toy Fair will be held from Jan 30 to Feb 3.  If you are interested in attending, please feel free to call.  I would be happy to discuss places to stay, suggest good places to eat, and share tips on getting around the city.  And if you like to jog, we can go for an early morning run before the sun comes up.  Just remember to stop and say “hi” when you wander past our booth.

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