The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online shopping trend, with the US Census Bureau estimating that retail e-commerce sales grew 44.5 percent year-over-year during the second quarter of 2020. Despite lockdown restrictions in the spring, US toy sales experienced double-digit monthly growth, thanks in large part to the strength of the online channel. And while legitimate toys sold by responsible companies are safer than ever thanks to a robust network of stringent federal safety standards, non-compliant toys sold by illicit sellers continue to be found on online marketplaces.
The Toy Association recently released “Taking Fake Toys Offline: A 2020 Focus on Proactive Measures to Reduce Counterfeits and Unsafe Toys Sold on Online Marketplaces.” The whitepaper updates the inaugural 2019 report and outlines factors contributing to the surge in unsafe counterfeit toys sold online, including:
- Inadequate vetting by marketplaces of sellers and products sold online,
- A burden of enforcement that is disproportionately placed on the IP rights holders (the brand owners),
- Inadequate transparency of seller information, resulting in a lack of information available to consumers making purchasing decisions,
- Consumers who are largely unaware of the scope of the problem and unknowingly purchase these products thinking they are held to the same standards as toys sold by legitimate companies, and
- Counterfeiters that have become adept at blending in on the sites, making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between compliant and non-compliant product.
The report outlines numerous potential solutions to combat each of these factors if stakeholders (including online marketplaces, legislators, members, and consumers) work collaboratively, as well as emerging trends impacting the issue, such as the increased reliance on online shopping, the proliferation of social media marketplaces, targeted advertisements, and the growth of fake reviews and fake storefronts.
“The Toy Association and our member companies have been continually advocating for the removal of illicit counterfeit toys and play products from online marketplaces. Our concerted actions and issues identified have contributed to some important progress, including the introduction of legislation placing clear requirements on marketplaces and sellers; the publication of a Department of Homeland Security Report echoing many of our proposed solutions; and better cooperation, communication, and collaboration with major online marketplaces,” stated Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.
“While several proposed solutions have been implemented, other important measures have not. These solutions, outlined in our report, remain urgently needed to address the significant safety risks posed by counterfeits. It is unacceptable that countless illegal items remain for sale online, putting millions of vulnerable children at risk. Illicit sellers and their goods must be stopped before reaching consumers’ homes, and online marketplaces have the ability to do so – and therefore must be held accountable,” said Pasierb.
The Toy Association’s latest whitepaper represents the concerns of the toy community and provides actionable solutions. The paper is a centerpiece of the association’s advocacy campaign on Capitol Hill to drive home the seriousness of the problem and is intended to be a living document that will continue to be updated as developments occur. Member and consumer experiences, engagement with platforms, and policy updates will be considered in future revisions.
“Taking Fake Toys Offline: A 2020 Focus on Proactive Measures to Reduce Counterfeits and Unsafe Toys Sold on Online Marketplaces” is available by clicking here or at ToyAssociation.org.
About The Toy Association
Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the US toy industry, which has an annual US economic impact of $97.2 billion, and its 1,000+ members drive the annual $27 billion US domestic toy market. The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.