Exclusive Interview with VTech and Leapfrog

VTech and LeapFrog are world renowned for creating wonderful educational toys that teach children a variety of fundamental topics – such as words, numbers, colours, shapes and animals. We spoke to Rebecca Lazarus and Mike Lynch, Senior Brand Managers at VTech and LeapFrog, to find out more about the brands and their products!

 

Can you tell us a bit about the history of VTech and LeapFrog?

Since its establishment in 1976, VTech has been the pioneer in the electronic learning toy category. With advanced educational expertise and cutting-edge innovation, VTech products provide fun and learning to children around the world.

LeapFrog was founded in 1995 by a father who revolutionized technology-based learning solutions to help his child learn how to read. Since then, LeapFrog has helped children expand their knowledge and imagination through award-winning products that combine state-of-the-art educational expertise, technology and engaging play.

In April 2016, the two brands came together when VTech Holdings Ltd acquired LeapFrog. The acquisition allows VTech to offer the broadest portfolio of products, which enhances the education and development of children across the world, while bringing them fun and joy.

 

VTech and Leapfrog are distinctive brands with different offerings. What would you consider to be each brand’s key strengths and selling points?

VTech and LeapFrog are very different brands, with very different positioning. Internally we have separate product development teams, a separate marketing department use different agencies for each brand.

VTech supports physical development by using technology to encourage children’s exploration and discovery, while providing exceptional entertainment and consumer value. VTech toys appeal to parents that are focused on providing a fun, discovery-filled experience that they know is good for their child.

Rebecca Lazarus: “VTech is the Number 1 Infant and Toddler Manufacturer (NPD 2021 YTD Sterling) with the core VTech Baby range targeting little ones from birth up to 18 months. We are then strong again in our tech based offering, targeting children 4 plus. We continually identify trends in adult sectors and transfer the technology in to children’s toy categories, ensuring they have the durability required for this sector whilst maintaining the important features.”

LeapFrog work closely with a Learning Team which consists of educational, domain- and child developmental experts. They are involved in every product, working intimately with the content development teams to actually design and create each product from conception through to completion, ensuring that age appropriate learning is and current curriculum objectives are met.

Mike Lynch: “A leader in innovative developmental solutions for children, LeapFrog are focused on providing educational toys that help prepare children for the future. Our core range is focused on children aged 18 months to 4 years.”

 

For retailers new to your brands, what are some core products that they should stock and why?

For VTech, a good selection of the core VTech Baby range should be stocked. Items such as Little Singing Puppy and Musical Rhymes Book  are constantly in our top selling infant lines.

Rebecca Lazarus: “We have found that offering a variety of price points appeals to gift givers throughout the year, ensuring that this category succeeds all year round”

Key lines for LeapFrog are the role play items, in particular the best-selling Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

Mike Lynch: “We see these items sell consistently, no matter what the weather and add educational value to role play fun.” The Learning Friends 100 Words Book is another must have.

 

Are you able to tell us about the brands’ market share and growth figures in the UK?

In 2020, VTech was the number 6 manufacturer (NPD 2020 Full Year Sterling) and was up 2% versus the previous year. VTech is the #1 Infant and Toddler manufacturer, with 26% of share in 2020 and growing faster than the segment trend (NPD 2020 Full Year Sterling.)

In the Early Electronic Learning subclass on NPD, LeapFrog have a 22% market share and have 4 of the top ten products, including the number one item, the Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart (NPD YTD Jan – Jun Sterling.) Another strong category for LeapFrog is Preschool Electronic Learning, where the LeapStart is the number 1 item.

 

Is there anything particularly exciting on the horizon for VTech and Leapfrog?

LeapFrog have great new educational additions to the range for Autumn/Winter 2021, including new wooden toys! The Touch & Learn Nature ABC Board™ has a touch-sensitive wooden board and an animated light-up LED screen, this toy tablet teaches letters, letter sounds and counting. The Interactive Wooden Animal Puzzle™ is a perfect fit for playtime! With four interactive play modes, this puzzle is full of delightful surprises. Match six animal puzzle pieces by shape and colour border. Kids will hear different responses when they place or remove each piece in every mode.

Mike Lynch: “We are excited to add LeapFrog’s educational and interactive elements to these new wooden toys. These products are made with 100% FSC-certified wood that comes from well-managed forests. The plastic used to make these products are 90% reclaimed.”

 

Do you know how many awards your products have won globally? Which award is the most recent?

The First Steps Baby Walker launched in 1994 and has been the best selling product in the VTech Baby range consistently for many years. It has won multiple consumer and panel awards for the design, which is a fantastic 2-in-1 walker and activity centre. With textured wheels, easy grip handle and durable design, the sturdy walker gives all the support they need to take their first steps. The fun-filled activity panel can be removed from the walker for extra sit-down play! With lots of exciting activities, cheerful music and friendly phrases, little ones will be introduced to numbers, shapes, animals and colours.

 

What social media reach do you have across your brands?

We know that 59% of preschool mums check social media networks over 5 times a day, therefore it is important that we reach them where they consume their media. Not only do we use a variety of content to engage with our existing followers, we also use these platforms to work with brand partners, influencers or advertise in order to gain new followers.

 

Do you have any advice for retailers?

Retailers know their business better than we do. However, what we see more than ever in the current climate is that parents, grandparents and gift givers want to buy toys that are a high quality, good value for money and from a brand they can trust. VTech develop innovative products that have added value with the electronics, are extremely durable and fun to play with.

 

Find out more about Rebecca: 

What would be your dream holiday?

We went to Borneo on our honeymoon, I just loved seeing the abundance of wildlife, especially the Orang-utans and Turtles in their natural habitat. I’d love to visit Costa Rica next and see the sloths.

Do you have any pets?

Only a husband and two small boys, they take enough looking after!

What is your favourite comfort food?

As a northerner, I like anything with gravy but especially sausage and mash.

Check out the VTech and LeapFrog brand pages to see the full range of products available at Baby Brands Direct, leading wholesaler for nursery and baby products.