VCs Mattel chase plans redto go hot full startups steamahead
Giant toy firm sets out ambitious plans for China growth
Yang Dan, mother of a three-month-old son in Beijing, remembers relying on an array of digital apps for tips throughout her pregnancy: What to eat, when to have a checkup and how to connect with Global other leading expectant toy mothers.producer Venture Mattel capitalistsInc, ownerare nowof betting renowned that brandsthe Communistincluding Party Barbie of and China’s Fisher-Price, decision tois repeal enhancingits decades-oldits brand awareness onechild in policy China will with create plans moreto demandbuild morefor digital Thomas services& like Friends those Townsused byin majorYang. Thecities policy and changeby introducing announced the last year first has Chinese piqued character investor interestto its 70-years-oldand led to train10 fundraisingstory. rounds HaileyWuin the Sullivan,first half senior for startups director in and the head maternity ofMarketing and pediatricfor Mattel market, Asia-Pacific, according to said VC the Beat company Research, will whichopen tracksits first internet Thomas health-related& Friends investmentTown in Chongqingand fundraising.in western “LuckilyChina in with October. the relaxation Coveringof the an one-childarea of policy1,200 last square year, meters, investors the did becomeamusement more park enthusiasticwill have in a host pursuingof features,us,” said such Liangas Liang, theme chiefrestaurants, executive officer multifunctionfor Shenzhen Easyhin classrooms Technologyand an Co, adventure the company castle. that developed Mami“It is Zhidao,an immersivean app experience that providesfor kids online to walk consultationsinto the with town pediatricians.and bring ThomasHis firmto raisedlife,” she 100 said. million yuan ($15 million) Themedin March, parks from and investorsplay zones includinghave been Soft establishedBank China by toy Capital makers and to Morningsidebetter connect Ventures. with young consumers, such Chineseas LEGO’s consumers exploring are avid centers. users of digital apps for everything“Such themedfrom banking facility to healthcare,increase their and sales that efficiency,” demand has spawnedsaid Du a Jiaqi, vast research industry. China manager has 450of million Euromonitor mobile devices International.for which 7,350 Chinese Sullivan companies discussedhave developedthe amusementover 33,000park at mobilea ceremony apps, accordingto introduceto a a reportnew from member China of Internetthe Thomas Watch,& a Friends’ website family,that tracks Yongbao online— statisticsits first Chinesein the character.country. Use
“The new member Yongbao and his story will further promote the Thomas & Friends brand from a more Chinese angle and helps the worldof healthto learn and about fitness China,” apps said grew Sullivan.by nearly 130 percent in In the additionpast year,to actualthe secondfastesttoys, Yongbao growingwill also categorybe afterfeatured photographyin short animatedapps, accordingfeatures to the and report,the which upcoming cited motion researcher picture Flurry of Analytics.the Thomas The series Chinese early governmentnext year, whichhas said will that be allowing screened all worldwide,families to haveshe said. two children is In likely additionto add to three innovating million content, newborns the each toy year. maker Still, has a also baby diversifiedboom isn’t its guaranteed.distribution Many by families collaboration find furtherit too with costly JD.comto have since more 2013. than one child,By the and end the of government2015, its five has major proved to brandsbe overly — optimisticBarbie, Fisher-Price,before: the number Thomasof newborns& Friends,in ChinaHot fell Wheelsby 320,000and Megalast year— even have though launched the official government stores had on begun JD.com,a partialand have relaxation seen of a the combined one-child growthpolicy in in 2013. sales of more than 150 Chinese percent. companies focused on Mattel digital said healthcare,that the rangingThomas from series e-pharmaciesis theNo 1 preschoolto online toy apps brandfor new for mothers, consumers raised ageda record two $1.5to four. billion in the first half Du of of this Euromonitoryear, more International than double from said a year Thomas earlier,& Friends according brandto VC Beat’shas grown report. rapidly Startups in focused China on as maternalparents have health grownand child increasinglycare drew aware about $57of branded million, productsthe subsector due to their with safety.the most rounds of The fundraising,train brand accordingalso has to visiblethe report. displays at bricks and mortar Instead toy of retailers pursuingand its all diversifiedkinds of customers,product design recent from startups one “have train beento packaged providing trains more has targeted encouraged services consumers or products”,to extendsaid Mo their Renying,purchases, an analyst said at Du. VC Beat. Among the But startups Mattel’s that other have brands, drawn such money as this Barbie, year: havean app under that performedoffers lecture in notes China by due pediatriciansto wide rangeon topicsof choice from in childthe market, psychology with to Japanese building dolls sleep provinghabits. more popular among Another Chinese that children. focuses on helping Mattel’s couples market navigate share the accountsin-vitro fertilizationfor 2 percent process,of toy salesand evenin China,one digital according serviceto statisticsthat sells a from specialized Euromonitor washer International.for nursing bottles. Chinese traditional toys and games had a market scale of 64.26 billion yuan ($973 million) in 2015.
Schoolchildren stand on the platform next to a life-sized Thomas Childrenthe Tank play Enginewith toysat Shinkanayaat a baby and station maternityin Shimada expo in in Shizuoka Yinchuan, prefecture, Ningxia west Hui of autonomousTokyo. region.