When the Daily Telegraph was doing a piece on innovation and developments in the toy industry it came to Stefan Knox at Bang Creations for comment because of his expertise in the sector. 

Underground Toys' co-founder Andrew Oddie: "I want to double sales again next year but that will depend on whether we can manage the extra business." Photo: Warren Allott

Andrew Oddie of Underground Toys explained in a Daily Telegraph’s Business Club piece how his business is fighting rising costs in China and larger rivals that are creating a 'closed shop’ with licensors as they become entertainment companies rather than simple toy firms.  Click here to readRising costs squeeze small toy companies

Stefan Knox's published response was: "Underground Toys has a gift based product range with a diverse fan base. They could benefit from looking at what they do differently and how they are perceived by the licensors. Concentrating on what they do well should help them to continue winning good licenses over their competition.

They might also consider offering their own branded platforms to which licenses can be attached. More so now than ever, the customer has influence in a property’s potential success. Online sites encourage feedback and retailers know that a product must provide innovation, value for money and strong branding. A recognised, branded product platform with a licence is becoming an even stronger proposition for a licensor.

It’s a great time to look around for the next new licence. Historically, licences were based around film and TV. With the internet becoming more important in creating properties, toy companies of every size are watching everything that is created ‘online’ – Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin, for example.

The big players need to generate large properties. They know the ‘getting older younger’ scenario is accelerating as children spend more time online than they do watching TV. Underground Toys remains well placed, however – they clearly know their customer base well and have good distribution channels. Quickly and frequently feeding these channels with innovative, branded products will help protect them from the bigger players who simply cannot react as fast.

Operationally, the recent economic climate has forced companies to be innovative here too for example, manufacturing the less labour intensive products in Europe is becoming more competitive and a more appealing alternative.

Lifting brand perception and commercial thinking around all aspects of intellectual property are two of the main focuses we regularly cover with our clients and this is just as important for Underground Toys."

Click Expert views on Underground Toys for published responses from other experts.