How Toy Marketing Was Revolutionised…

How Toy Marketing Was Revolutionised…

In times gone by, marketing toys was much simpler, and if the truth to be told, easier! It was also potentially much more expensive than it needs to be today.

Back in the day we just had to tell the retailers the product was going to be TV advertised, and then once we were certain they had listed the product and pre-ordered enough stock to justify the budget, we TV advertised the hell out of the product, and some sold off the shelf and some didn’t, but as there is always another product development cycle ahead in the toy industry it didn’t matter all that much if there were a few prickly inventory issues as long as we’d amortised the TV we could mark down with the retailer and move on.

Even better, it actually didn’t really matter that much whether the product was any good. While retailers would moan if they had problems with returns, the key thing was to sell through as many products as possible pumped up by TV and hope retail inventory was clean enough to encourage re-orders next year.

In essence, what we had was a largely one way process of the toy industry and retailers flogging the hell out of a product, and  consumers taking the product to the tills and buying it in sufficient quantities as the only meaningful measure of success.

One (embarassing) example I feel honour bound to share with you at this point of just how one way that process was can be found in a particular product I launched some years ago. This product was a Bingo game, and for those not so aware of how Bingo works the key thing is that every player has their own distinctly different set of numbers to follow. Sadly, due to an error/omission the numbers printed in this particular Bingo game were all exactly the same printed sheet repeated. Which meant that the game was to all extents and purposes not playable and therefore not that useful! We shipped in 10,000 units of this product, and I know for a fact that 10,000 copies (more or less) were sold through. Astoundingly, the retailer only received 3 complaints from 10,000, despite the fact that the product was not playable. While I’m sure that at least half of those games were never opened, there really must have been at least a couple of thousand games opened and therefore a couple of thousand consumers would inevitably been disappointed (a fact which makes me feel shamed to this day!). But just three complaints !?!?…

This was the world before online consumer reviews, mums/moms blogs, product review sites and social media. Today I can just imagine the outraged Facebook posts which would be doing the rounds and the 1 out of 5 product rating with angry rants, but back in the day you could kind of get away with such ineptitude to a degree because people generally couldn’t be bothered to take something bought for such a throwaway price back to the store to complain.

Things have changed, in fact that understates things – Toy marketing has been revolutionised by online reviews and social media. Now while that may be no surprise to you or to your company, it still astounds me how susceptible toy companies are to bad reviews and unrepresentative/ludicrous reviews by people who online have power but who in person would not be listened to by the average savvy consumer. Doubtless you’ve seen some stupid feedback online – you know, someone who bought an action figure but can’t believe it can’t actually shoot real web from it’s fingers, or bought a trivia board game but then found it only involved asking and answering questions (!)…these people are out there, and they are adverseley affecting sales of your products right now!

That’s why Kids Brand Insight (our parent company) launched TheToyVerdict.com a product review website which guarantees to only add positive online word of mouth – if a product is tested and gets less than 7/10 we don’t post the review which protects you from bad PR online (although if you launch a crappy product someone out there is going to smash you, it just won’t be us!). From the consumers perspective, they know that TheToyVerdict.com will only post reviews for products which are either good, very good or excellent, in other words we aim to create a portal of cool stuff for consumers while helping toy companies effectively promote their products. All products reviewed and approved for posting on the site will feature product images and e-commerce sites to drive sell through for toy companies.

In addition, The Toy Verdict Awards 2015 are now open for entry to all categories of Toys. Research proves that award winning products sell more than they would have done without the awards, so long as award logos are featured in marketing, on pack, online etc. The 2015 winners will be featured extensively in PR in Q4 to further boost both real world and digital PR. To enter your products just click here.

For more information on The Toy Verdict, please go to www.TheToyVerdict.com