Little Tikes debuts with magic shows in India

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BOMBAY -- India's estimated $100 million toy market this month witnesses the entry of Little Tikes, a popular U.S. brand that caters to kids up to the age of 14 years.

A range of 220 products will initially retail in Bombay, followed by launches in other major cities, in an importing arrangement between Little Tikes and Bombay-based Newar Group.

The Little Tikes range, characterized by bright colors and innovative designs, includes the bestselling Turbo Banking sets, basketball sets, big trucks, the country cottage playhouse, pace cars, art desks, mechanical workshops and a host of other products targeted to the middle- and upper-classes.

Newar will shun traditional advertising in favor of children's events and promotions, such as magic shows, to drum up publicity. Creative store displays will seek to draw both parents and kids to the Little Tikes toys, whose U.S. ad tagline conveys the range's intention: "Fun That Lasts".

But the Indian market is not all fun-and-play. Dominated largely by an unorganized sector whose only draw is cheap prices made possible by evading government taxes, the market's upper end is restricted to a few players such as Leo Mattel, Hasbro's Funskool joint venture, ATCO and Denmark's LEGO.

The arrival of low-priced, attractive Chinese imports and a continued imposition of stiff duties on toys sold locally have prevented the market from growing on the scale of its global counterparts. According to a Newar estimate, per capita spending by the West on toys last year was $30. In India it was a little over a cent.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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