Summer is barely over, but the elves have been hard at work. Both Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us have already announced their top holiday toy lists. (And we worry about kids growing up too fast? It’s already next year in toyland.)
Surprisingly, the two lists are not that similar, aside from the fact that the majority of toys on each are above $50. While both have Furby, LeapPad2, a Lalaloopsy Interactive Doll, and Hot Wheels Terrain Twister R/C Vehicle, the rest of the products don’t overlap. So who’s right? Will One Direction collector dolls be more popular than the Monster High playset? Will TRU’s Tabeo beat out VTech’s InnoTab2? Who makes up these wish lists? The ad department? The buyers? The consumers? And why do we care?
We care, because we all want to be on the A-lists. (Even the intellectual snobs.) Lists translate into sales as well as satisfaction. As an inveterate list-maker, I know there are many ways to get noticed. So just in case your property didn’t make any of this year’s top 10, top 15, top 20 or top 50 lists that have thus-far been released, here’s some consolation and between-the-lines advice:
1) A top toy isn’t necessarily a best toy. For years, LEGO has been on dozens of lists. It’s still on many, but now the licensed LEGO properties are more often picked. Is LEGO Ninjago any better than classic bricks? Possibly only the first time you build it.
2) Watch the trends. LeapPad 2, Tabeo and InnoTab2 indicate that tablets are the next big thing. New companies such as Nukotoys are taking advantage of the iPad (even though I haven’t seen the name on any lists…yet.). Look where Angry Birds began. Are you thinking ahead?
3) You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Target your expectations. If you don’t make the most popular (read: mass merchandise, big ad budget, major brand and licensing too), how about going for an educational niche? Or preschool slot? Or outdoor toys? There are lists for everything, and there are consumers who scout (and buy from) those lists.
4)Think independently. Organizations that aren’t beholden to advertisers are more likely to look at a variety of products. Parents’ Choice Foundation, Common Sense Media and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio vet products with parents, kids, and educators. If you want to be one of their smart choices, read their calls for entries. Magazines such as Parents, Parenting, Family Circle and others focus on specific audiences. They target diverse ages, prices, and trends, and try to choose toys from a variety of manufacturers.
5) Make your own fun. Use social media. Contact mommybloggers, create a viral campaign, tap into your cousin’s best friend’s celebrity connection. Build buzz.
6) Create something truly spectacular. Hopefully the rest of the pieces will fall into place.
Send me your comments — but not in a list. I already have too many.