1stSteps Global / supply chains – An SME as a Global Player
Lässig’s stylish and unusual changing or diaper bags have shaken up the market for baby products. The SME has been operating internationally for a long time now – in its sales, its designs, but also in its supply chains.
Lässig will be exhibiting at Kind+Jugend with its new “About Friends” collection of children’s bags aimed at encouraging intercultural exchange,
Between 35 and 40 percent of the sales of Lässig GmbH, the company headquartered in Babenhausen, Germany, are generated abroad. Switzerland and Austria are particularly important markets, although growth rates in the Benelux countries and France are currently high, too. “We are, of course, delighted that our changing bags are going down so well with the discerning French mothers,” says Claudia Lässig, the founder and executive shareholder. “We also have good partners in Spain and Italy and we’re working on the Scandinavian market.” Lässig is also active beyond Europe’s borders, with its own subsidiary and warehouse in the USA, and supplies its products to Japan and Taiwan as well as other countries. “We regularly discuss overseas expansion, however Europe is our main focus at present,” says the entrepreneur, summarizing the current strategy. “Requirements on the American and Asian markets differ fundamentally from those in Europe, aside from logistical challenges and the different legal requirements, for example safety standards.”
Alongside Stefan Lässig and Karin Heinrich, Claudia Lässig has been successfully managing the company for twelve years. Together, they make up a well-coordinated team. Stefan Lässig is responsible for distribution and the success of international marketing. The products are sold by our own field sales force, but also by numerous representatives and distributors, for example in Switzerland, Italy or Spain. “Especially when going into a new market, it is sensible to bring on board partners who know the market and the retailers who fit in with our brand,” Claudia Lässig explains, getting to the point. “On the other side, we have to be certain that the distributor or the representative will invest enough time to position our product range in the retail market and establish a clientele. Particularly abroad, where our brand is perhaps not so well known, this isn’t always easy.”
The advice of the distribution specialists in different parts of the world influences the product design. However, Lässig decided against specific designs for certain countries. “We have tried it on and off, but have since refrained from it,” the trained industrial manager recounts. “We design our changing bag collection to suit us and to satisfy us in the design team – nevertheless, we see the differences in the taste of our clients in the various countries. In Scandinavia, a simple, linear design is preferred. The further south you travel, the more playful the whole thing becomes. That hasn’t changed very much in the last few years. When we put together our product range in the respective markets, we rely on our local representatives, who have a good sense of which parts of the collection will go down well.”
The supply chains of the medium-sized company with around 100 employees are also globalized. Production takes place in Asia – Claudia Lässig regularly travels to the Hong Kong office of her company to inform herself about the production conditions in the region. “All of our products are produced carefully in a pollutant-free process. They’re also free from PVC, cadmium or nickel. Sustainable production is extremely important for us and our very sensitive group of buyers. Therefore, we make sure that our suppliers also meet these requirements,” she emphasizes.
“Little Chums” children’s tableware
At the beginning of July, Lässig was honoured as top innovator for a second time in the TOP 100 innovation competition. Together with their mentor Ranga Yogeshwar (second from left), Managing Directors Stefan Lässig, Claudia Lässig and Karin Heinrich (from left) were delighted to receive this award
There are no current plans to go into new markets. “We currently supply more than 700 retailers in Germany with our changing bags. We have expanded our range with other bags, including school bags, and also with accessories for babies, from bibs to tableware, and even a swim collection. The added products now make up half of Lässig’s sales and this is where we see potential for growth in our established markets,” says Claudia Lässig, looking confidently into the future. “We have grown big with changing bags, but the competition in this area is increasing, for example from the outdoors sector. In business, it is always sensible to have more than one iron in the fire. Nevertheless, we naturally want to remain an important player in this area, and certainly aim to grow internationally in the mid-term.”