Mattel's response to toy recall good, but will hurt the entire toy industry, professor says

David Strutton
David Strutton, professor of marketing.
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Earlier this week, the nation's largest toymaker, Mattel, Inc., announced that it was recalling more than 18 million Chinese-made toys, and warned that more recalls may be in the offing because some toys have possible lead-paint hazards and tiny magnets that children may swallow. Less than two weeks ago, Mattel recalled 1.5 million Fisher-Price infant toys, which were also made in China, because of possible lead-paint hazards.

A professor of marketing and logistics at the University of North Texas says the problems with the toys isn't with Mattel - it's with the company's Chinese vendors, who are cutting corners.

"A lot of what is happening is pushback towards China, and there are those in other nations who are happy to take potshots at the country over this," says Dr. David Strutton, director of UNT's New Product Development Scholars Program.

However, he says, it's clear that China is to blame for the problems with the toys, just as Chinese vendors were to blame for recalls of products earlier this year. In March, many brands of dog and cat foods were pulled from shelves because they contaminated rice protein from a source in China that was identified as being associated with kidney failure in pets. In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would block sales of Chinese catfish, basa, dace, shrimp and eel, after repeated testing turned up contamination with drugs not approved in the U.S. for farmed seafood.

About 65 percent of Mattel's toy products are made in China, and Strutton says that Mattel doesn't have any options to move its toy production out of that country.

"The lowest cost manufacturers are in that part of the world and that won't change. Unless consumers are willing to pay more for toys, that's where the companies are going to locate," he says. He says that Mattel's response to the recall has been good, just as Johnson & Johnson's response was good following the Tylenol tampering scare of the 1980s. In the wake of the recalls, Mattel apologized to consumers, announced it will begin to stringently test the paint used in its toys and the finished toy products, and promised to tighten controls at its Chinese vendor factories.

"If you are culpable, the best thing a company can do is own up to the problem and make it right. Long term, Mattel will be better off by continuing to be proactive," Strutton says.

Mattel's recall announcements come as the 2007 holiday shopping season looms, and Strutton thinks the entire toy industry may be hurt by the recalls. He says consumers may opt to buy other products instead of toys to give as holiday gifts.

"If you're not going to buy Chinese-made toys, the fact of the matter is you're not going to be buying hardly any toys," he says.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Category:

Latest News

Wally Linebarger
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Seven films created by UNT students who are earning the Department of Radio, Television and Film's Master of Fine Arts degree in documentary film will be shown May 1 (Thursday) at UNT.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When Josh Gordesky learned that the UNT College of Information would be offering its doctoral degree program in learning technologies mostly online, he knew it was the right academic program for him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Children in grades 8 through 12 can now register for summer camps in the University of North Texas College of Engineering, focusing on robotics, video and computer game development, mobile applications and computer science and engineering.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Katie Koestner, a date rape survivor, will speak at the University of North Texas as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities. The speech will take place at 7 p.m. on April 22 (Tuesday) in the Volleyball Gym located at 1536 S. Bonnie Brae, Building H, Denton.

Six-year old Ryan Lingo relaxes with his mother, Lucia Lingo, at Easter Seals No
Monday, April 21, 2014

Yummy Starts, a healthy eating program geared for kids with autism spectrum disorder, is helping kids with extreme selective eating habits. It's one of four behavioral intervention services offered at the Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program, a collaboration between the University of North Texas Department of Behavior Analysis and Easter Seals.