7 Dec 2015
Record Attendance at Kind + Jugend Confirms Buoyant Baby Sector
Strollers, interactive products, safety-first items and an enhanced green awareness dominated proceedings at the 2015 Kind + Jugend show in Cologne, one of the world's leading trade events in the bustling children and babies' sector.
With 1,141 exhibitors from 50 countries and more than 21,000 trade visitors from 110 countries, this year's Kind + Jugend certainly seemed one for the record books. According to Katharina Hamma, the Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse, the company behind the Cologne-based kids' products show, visitor numbers were up more than 5% compared to 2014.
Fittingly then, the event seemed to play host to a greater number of product launches and debuts than ever before. Clippasafe, a British company, for instance, chose the show to launch its Clear View Baby Mirror. The product ensures babies can maintain eye contact with driving parents, allowing the latter to keep a watchful eye on their children without having to turn around.
Roger Cheetham, Clippasafe's Managing Director, said: "All parents that drive know how tempting it is to turn around and check on the little one in the back. Our mirror, though, means you can see them without risking an accident. It's a simple solution and can be easily fitted and adjusted using a pivot and rotate mechanism."
Simple solutions were also favoured by Rob Law, Managing Director of Magmatic, a Bristol-based luggage manufacturer trading under the Trunki brand. He said: "Despite a challenging and depressed market in the UK, our sales are growing across Asia, and business is particularly good in China. We have now officially launched stateside, selling direct to retailers and consumers in the US and Canada."
Also looking to expand its export business was the Hong Kong-based Euret Group, which was keen to increase the European distribution of its Diago range of products. Andreas Albert, Euret's Sales Director, said the company was particularity focussing on promoting its range of pram organisers, rain protectors and accessories at Kind + Jugend.
He said: "We are already supplying a number of European countries, including the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and the UK. We are looking to appoint distributors to take us into new territories."
Nearer to home, Patrick Liem, Euret's Kowloon-based Sales Director, said the company was also looking to develop its business in China and South Korea.
Back among the European manufacturers and Sven Martin, Chief Executive of Leipzig-based Baby Stars, was in Cologne to promote the Snu:mee, said to be unique in combining a digital music box, a baby monitor and an MP3 player. Explaining the appeal of the unit, Martin said: "Its MP3 player functionality and 4Gb internal memory lets it grow with the child's needs, from baby to toddler and up to early school years."
Another German company, Cologne-based Zwei Plus Zwei, had on offer a number of new innovations for Croozer, its bicycle trailer brand. According to Denis Mortazavi, a Sales Manager with the company, battery-powered lights can now been integrated into the handlebar to make travelling with the Croozer even safer. The new Croozer ski adaptor kit, meanwhile, makes cross-country skiing and snow hiking possible for the entire family.
In addition, Mortazavi said a new function will make changing between bike, strolling and jogging modes far simpler. He said: "The new Croozer hitch system offers a mounting solution for every rear hub, ensuring that the Click & Crooze hitch is 100% compatible."
Another debut at the show came courtesy of Babymoov, with the French company introducing the Aquanest, said to be the first bathtub that maintains bathwater temperature. Explaining the benefits, Christelle Defarge, Babymoov's Head of Communications, said: "Aquanest maintains water temperature for 10 minutes, thanks to its warm diffuser system, a natural and safe heater."
Also on display on the Babymoov stand was the company's small appliance range, Nutribaby, which includes a food processor that can puree and steam-cook food.
Using its presence at Kind + Jugend as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, Belgium's Childhome launched the latest offerings from its Childwood and Childwheels brands at the event. According to Magalie Aerts, daughter of Stefan Aerts, the company's Founder, Childhome now has customers in more than 45 countries. She said: "In Asia, we now have clients in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea – and, in August, we opened a flagship store in Seoul."
Another company launching products at the fair was Knorr-Baby, a German manufacturer whose range of buggy designs is officially licensed by Volkswagen – something of a mixed blessing at present. Over on the company's stand, demonstrators showed just how easily the Volkswagen Convert can be collapsed and transported, thanks to its compact folding design. The company is now looking to appoint distributors across Europe, Asia and the US.
On the distributor front, Catherine Yiu, Marketing Manager at Hong Kong-based Computime Brands Distribution International, said her company had been working on behalf of Brevi, an Italian manufacturer, since February 2015.
She said: "Computime is the exclusive distributor for Brevi in the Chinese market. Since February, we have developed our retail channels and we are confident that we will gain market share. People on the Chinese mainland are looking for premium, reliable products and that's where Brevi comes in."
In line with this, Silvia Kong, US-based Munchkin's Trade Marketing & E-Commerce Marketing Manager for Greater China, noted the baby and toddler market in China was now showing hugely positive growth.
She said: "The Chinese market is in a very good position and we have launched Munchkin, a premium toys and games brand, both online and offline and have been greatly encouraged by the initial results.
"Chinese tourists that have visited the US have seen Munchkin in Walmart and Target stores. This brand recognition has seen them keen to buy the brand in their home market."
Staying with the Asian markets, four Hong Kong companies were jointly presenting their products and services on a stand organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The items on show ranged from baby products to infant and baby clothing made of organic materials.
One such attendee was Winc Design, the company behind the Charlie Banana brand. According to Gaëlle Wizenberg, Winc's President, the company specialises in environmentally friendly baby products that combine quality, sustainability and design.
Explaining the origins of the business, Wizenberg said: "Charlie Banana was started as a reaction to my dislike of the disposable nappies then on offer – there was no attention to fashion or fabric."
As well as the expanded number of exhibitors, this year the event once again played host to the Kind + Jugend Innovation Awards. Among this year's winners was Bumprider, a Swedish manufacturer that took the World of Baby Moving Award for Marathon, its three-wheeled jogging buggy.
Nicklas Lindblad, Chief Executive of Bumprider, said: "Marathon is the world's first baby carriage to measure distance, speed, pulse and calories burned. Newly developed disk brakes also ensure all necessary safety, even on uneven terrain."
Meanwhile, Munchkin took the top prize in the World of Baby Safety at Home category for its Luna Gate safety barrier. The product's defining feature was seen as the LED light attached to its lower crossbar, which illuminates the floor in the dark in response to input from a sensor.
In the World of Baby Travelling category, first prize went to Recaro Child Safety, a German manufacturer, for the Zero.1 Elite, its child car-seat. According to Christian Fischer, the company's Export Director, the Zero.1 Elite is the first i-Size-approved, 360-degree rotatable child car-seat to come with a removable baby basin.
Kind + Jugend 2015 took place at Cologne's Koelnmesse from 10-13 September.
Simon King, Special Correspondent, Cologne