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“The industry needs a more strategic approach, not so focused on campaigns”

José Antonio Pastor, president of the Spanish Toy Manufacturers’ Association (AEFJ)


José Antonio Pastor is the president of the Spanish Toy Manufacturers’ Association (AEFJ) since 2007, and is linked to the association since 1992, when he created the Foreign Promotion department. He is also from Onil, the Alicante town known for being home for a good number of companies of the toy industry (Famosa, Injusa, the same AEFJ…) The association has decided to work against one of the main problems of the toy business: sales seasonality.
What are the benefits of being member of the AEFJ?
The first and most important benefit is sector representation. For example, we represent the business in front of national and regional authorities which have responsibility for security matters, as well as the European Union. We also support and defend the sector's position on custom issues and in regard to advertising and consumer associations. Also, we collaborate with all firms regarding export activities, with internationalisation plans. In terms of actions and projects, we are implementing our strategic plan, with six different lines: sales seasonality, cooperation distribution, collaboration between companies, strategic management and training, and internationalisation. 

Logically, this also involves a certain level of commitment by members of the association. First, to safety. Also, to ethical production and communication responsibility, as we have a self-regulatory code that all partners must respect. Finally, active participation in the life and actions of the association, that after all are those of the entire industry. 

You have recently launched a campaign to combat the seasonality of sales. How did it started? Do you notice the support of the sector? 
It is a long-term campaign. The first steps are important and are being good. I think it's the first time that the whole sector is in a move to fight against one of their problems, which is seasonality and the image of the industry and its product. All association members have joined, and also distribution companies are involved. In this first year of experience we will learn many things and modify everything that is necessary. It is a road to be travelled for five years. What is historic and very important, is that the issue has been addressed jointly by all, both manufacturers and distributors. 

The most recent action regarding this issue has been a request for the toy to be considered a cultural interest good.  
It's something logical. A greater sensitivity for game culture at all levels will mean a more rational and therefore less seasonal use of the toy. The important thing for children is that they play with quality and safety. This also benefits our product and brings greater respect for our business, and therefore also leads to a more responsible consumer that values the toy for what it is. 

Do you think the economic situation could harm the campaign? 
There is no doubt that at the time you start a campaign there will always be a certain situation. I wonder if in a better economic context the need to undertake a campaign like this would have been so palpable. But certainly, the longer we wait to make a campaign that promotes the value of play and toys, the more we will regret not having done it before. The economic situation we are facing also needs proactivity, as we need to try to change and stimulate the activity, and try to improve consumption, not just in the toy industry, but throughout the Spanish economy. 

How do you see the Spanish toy industry? What are the main challenges of Spanish companies? 
The economic situation does not help at all, not only the toy industry, but the entire retail industry. But being optimistic, this is a creative and proactive business, and these times will pass. In the long term, there are challenges that need work, and I will refer again to our strategic plan. The industry needs a more strategic approach, not so focused on campaigns. So we have included lines such as strategic management and training, not just for employees, but also at management level. This is important to address future challenges such as globalisation, development and innovation. Collaboration with distributors is also important. Last but not least, the seasonal adjustment, which is the first we have addressed first in our five year campaign. 
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