“Pivot” and “innovate” may be the buzzwords of the day, but for Alan Sutton and his family, they are core to the heritage of their family toy business. Alan’s family has been in the toy business since 1945 and has learned how to continually innovate and pivot to stay relevant and meet the demands of retailers, parents, and of course, children. In a trend-driven industry that Alan likens to fashion, staying small and nimble to meet the demands of the market has helped Jay At Play thrive, as he shares on this episode about “Heritage” on the Happy Marketer Connection podcast.
The support of his family – his Partners are his father and sister – and their belief in staying small and lean, working closely with the inventor community, and always putting the business first have helped Jay At Play find success in an ever-changing and trend-driven global market. Alan shares the pros and cons of working with family, how to build a global brand, the importance of staying nimble as a company, methods to resolve conflicts within your team and supply chain, and what the fashion and toy industry have in common.
- [0:14] Sue Frech, Happy Marketer Connection, Vesta
- [0:50] Alan Sutton, VP Global Sales and Operations at Jay@Play
- Sue Frech interviewing Alan Sutton on HERITAGE
- [1:38] Family Business
- [1:49] What is Jay@Play and what is Alan’s role?
- [2:12] Sales, Operations
- [2:19] Stephanie Sutton, Product Development, Marketing
- [3:20] How does Jay@Play stay ahead of trends in the toy industry?
- [3:58] YouTube
- [4:42] Demographics
- [5:15] Intellectual Property (IP), Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Warner Bros.
- [6:36] Logistics
- [7:45] How did Jay@Play get started?
- [9:22] How do you make decisions in a family business?
- [10:29] Financial Crisis of 2008
- [11:29] Joseph Sutton
- [13:17] Why did Alan join Jay@Play?
- [16:57] SARS
- [17:17] Chinese New Year
- [18:31] Starbucks
- [19:14] How did Alan keep his supplier relationships strong during the pandemic?
- [20:42] Where do Alan’s father’s strong values come from?
- [21:33] Community Powered marketing delivers a new world of sales growth. Learn more at Vesta-Go.com
- [21:50] Did Alan’s father always want to get into the toy business?
- [22:14] Manufacturing, Capital
- [22:43] Licensee
- [23:30] Supply Chain, Monopoly
- [23:56] WTO (World Trade Organization)
- [24:49] Did Jay@Play pivot during COVID-19?
- [25:16] Inventory
- [25:43] New York Toy Fair, Javits Center
- [26:39] Is Jay@Play in holiday mode?
- [27:22] What does their development for 2021 look like?
- [27:43] CapEx (Capital Expenditure)
- [27:51] Zoom, Working From Home (WFH)
- [28:34] How much has eCommerce grown?
- [28:48] Instacart, Amazon
- [30:04] Is there a toy Alan was told wouldn’t make it but did?
- [31:00] “Axel F” by Crazy Frog
- [32:19] Best Buy
- [32:56] Early Adopters
- [33:14] MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larian, O.L. Surprise
- [33:49] Flipazoo, Walmart
- [34:34] Business Plan
- [36:43] DIY (Do-It-Yourself)
Alan Sutton, VP of Global Sales and Operations, Jay@Play
For Alan Sutton, work is about fun and family. At Jay@Play, Alan is the VP of Global Sales and Operations, working alongside his sister and father to aim to put smiles on children’s faces through their toy company. With a successful background in developing, manufacturing, marketing, distributing, selling, and licensing products globally in the consumer electronics and toy categories, Alan is a passionate and strategic leader at his company.
Host: Sue Frech, Founder and CEO, Vesta
Sue has spent her career redefining digital marketing in brand and retail marketing, Martech, and advertising, at brands such as Kraft and Glaxo-SmithKline. She is committed to creating fellow Happy Marketers through Vesta’s all-in-one online community building software, transforming the relationships between brands and consumers with Community Powered Marketing.