The Toy Maker

Gupta cites reaching customers at good marketing costs as a challenge

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“The journey with Shumee started after becoming a mom and noticing the power of play for a little one in the early years. After moving to India noticed a big gap in the Indian market for age-appropriate skill building toys focused on play-based learning, made with safe and non-toxic materials. I felt there was a need to have a safe, play-based, early-years brand for our little ones, which can help them develop the right skills at the right age but while playing and having fun. We decided to be a digital-first brand as we were creating a category and we wanted to be as close as possible to the customer in this journey – understand the response to our products directly from them, and also what we could do differently,” says Meeta Sharma Gupta, founder, Shumee.

Meeta Sharma Gupta, founder, Shumee

Shumee is a home-grown, mom-made, eco-friendly toy brand founded in 2014. Shumee makes toys using sustainable materials for kids that make play fun, safe while enabling skill-building. The toys are ASTM certified.

Gupta along with her team handles the ideation of toy-making. She says, “Along with the team, we explore the areas which we would like to expand for our portfolio. We also work with early childhood experts to understand the mapping of toys to the age and to the skills.”

Says the founder on the evolution of the market from the time they began, “It has been a good journey. I have seen the overall market evolve at a rapid rate, and with COVID-19, the online adoption in all domains has also been rapid. Parents are more aware and eager to find the right solutions for their little ones in every domain of their lives. It is a big market in India. A recent study has shown it is currently over one billion USD market in India and growing at a rapid rate, and poised to be nearly $6 billion market in the next four years.”

On the difficulty of building a D2C brand in India, says Gupta “Building a brand is always an uphill task, as you need to create a differentiated value for the customer and create a brand loyalty and affinity. D2C evolution has helped set an ecosystem which can give wider access to customers and help the brands explain their propositions at multiple touch points.”

The challenge they face is, “Of reaching the customer at good marketing costs, and with digital marketing channels like Facebook, Google being the main channels this sometimes becomes expensive too,” says Gupta.

On their growth in the last two years, Gupta says, “We have grown considerably in the last two years, nearly 3x growth. We have also been innovating; have introduced different product lines – board games, Waldorf /Montessori selection of toys and we are also expanding our 4+ years’ catalogue.”