Panda Mony Toy Brands just debuted our first toy brand, Alter Nation, at this year’s ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in New Orleans! ASTRA is an trade group for the toy industry supporting specialty toy retailers that holds a convention and education seminars every year in a different city. It was an amazing show packed with a lot of learning experiences, especially being a brand new startup exhibiting for the first time.
One of the lessons we came across was the importance of walking the show and personally inviting people to come to the booth. In a B2B setting, nothing beats making direct personal connections. It was far more valuable than any advertising we purchased. We gained media interest, investor interest, and lots of leads on sales and distributors!
A lot a lot a lot (that’s 3x the lots) of buyers were at ASTRA to find arts and craft or educational sorts of toys. In an article titled How to Reach Disenfranchised Shoppers in the May/June 2018 issue of the trade magazine, EdPlay, Phil Wrzesinski identified retail shoppers neglecting specialty stores because those shoppers stereotype those stores without ever walking in. Three key presumptions the shoppers make is that specialty toy stores 1) only carry overpriced products, 2) don’t have a wide selection, and 3) only carry “boring” educational products.
With the demise of Toys R Us and the rise of online retail, it’s imperative that specialty retailers seize the gobs and gobs of money to be made with an in-store experience. The way to do this is to recognize and be ahead of the change in the retail landscape by breaking those stereotypes and offering jawdroppingly neat and unique product. Panda Mony was founded on the principle of bringing only new, original, and fun product with the same quality kids demand, and driven by rich mythology and character development to create a lasting brand. Alter Nation is the culmination of those ethos.
Besides, what ISN’T educational? Really? If you really wanted to, we could replace the characters in Plato’s Republic with Alter Nation characters. Boom! Educational product. And it would probably sell too because boys and girls alike at ASTRA loved our Alter Nation heroes and villains! Among their favorites were Daart, Sham, El Ray and Sabotage. Of course, we knew that ahead of time because we tested the heck out of them before we even picked up a single Z-Brush! Kids weren’t the only ones that loved us. We also received a free booth appraisal by the show staff, and our booth was rated 86.8% highest of 100 participants, leading us to the conclusion that someone had 8/10ths, or 4/5ths, of a booth.
We really enjoyed our time at ASTRA and are incredibly grateful to the people who visited us and for those of you continuing to follow and support us on our journey! In addition, an amazingly huge thanks to all the people who had a role behind the development of Alter Nation, we honestly could not have done it without them.
So, on that sincere, but trite note, KEEP WATCHING WHAT PANDA MONY IS DOING! Bye bye!