Two third of all consumers in Hong Kong and Germany consider independent certification marks when buying any toys. This was the outcome of a representative survey conducted in January 2018 for TUV Rheinland by the polling institute Civey in Germany and a Facebook questionnaire conducted in Hong Kong.
TUV Rheinland’s experts believe that these surveys not only confirm the importance of the GS (Tested Safety) mark in particular, but also the safety for toys in general. TUV Rheinland’s toy testing expert in Hong Kong, William To, had this to say: “Babies and toddlers like to put toys in their mouths. Therefore, the conscious purchase of suitable toys is very important, such as the production quality, for example.” Certification marks can be a valuable guide in this respect.
Safety is equally important for recent toy trends, such as smart toys and remote controlled model cars. “They differ from stuffed teddy bears, puzzles and dolls. But they have one thing in common: they are intended to provide fun without risks,” said William. As one of the leading testing institutes worldwide, TUV Rheinland tests toys in its own test laboratories in Asia, America and Europe, and checks for toxic chemicals in addition to electrical and mechanical safety in toys. These tests also include flammability tests for stuffed toys and acoustic measurements for toys that produce sounds.
Observing important rules when buying toys
When consumers buy toys, they consider not only the price but also the quality, production techniques and play value. Over 75% of the survey respondents identified safety as the main selection criteria when purchasing toys in Hong Kong. Two thirds said they paid attention to the label and instructions while around 50% considered any sharp points or edges.
In the experience of the safety experts, buying only from known sources and checking for any defects are particularly important. Extremely strict regulations are applied for children under three years old, and toys that are not suitable for this age group must be marked with a special warning notice. This is very important if, for example, toys have swallowable parts. William also stated that “If toys have a strange smell, you should think twice before purchasing it. Children dislike bad smells just as much as adults. In addition, such toys may contain harmful substances.”
Use all your senses when buying toys. William: “Sharp points and edges or loose parts are not only a nuisance but a potential hazard.” For toys that produce sounds or music, always check the volume, as loud toys may damage hearing in babies and toddlers. A warning must be printed on the packaging: if this information is missing, then hands off.
Additional certification marks offer guidance
Only about 10% of the Hong Kong respondents could not recognise any test marks when choosing products. Most knew at least one of the international test marks, such as CE, GS or CCC.
Certification marks of independent testing organisations offer additional guidance when purchasing toys. These include the GS mark for “tested safety”, TUV Rheinland’s specific marks for harmful substance tests and the LGA-tested Quality mark (safety, usability). These certification marks are awarded only after the products have passed inspection in the laboratory. In addition, the manufacturing plants are subjected to strict quality control by the inspectors. Toy expert William said, “Certification marks represent an additional, voluntary testing of the products and the manufacturing process, which go beyond the quality control carried out by the manufacturer.” They therefore make a positive contribution to product safety.
The representative survey of market researchers, conducted by the Civey Institute in Berlin on behalf of TUV Rheinland, also found marked differences between the attitudes of men and women regarding the role of certification marks: almost 72% of all women (but only 58% of men) check toys for certification marks. However, around 75% of both men and women in Hong Kong check certification marks when purchasing a toy.
Over 9,700 German consumers were surveyed by Civey from 11-15 January 2018, and 220 Hong Kong respondents completed the questionnaire online from 6 to 19 February 2018.