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Toy Wars: Big Retailers Push New Products & Strategic Partnerships Ahead Of Holiday Season

October 16, 2020 Carolyn Harding

Shutterstock_515653261 Toys keyboard button, 3D rendering

The toy industry has experienced a surge in online orders over the past several months, with more than half of all toy sales taking place online during the height of the pandemic. According to NPD Group, a market research company, for the period of March-June, year-over-year (YOY) growth in toy sales was “in the double digits.” Similarly, Business Insider reporter Adriana Nunez shared an anticipated 21% YOY spike in “toy and hobby retail ecommerce sales” in 2020.

With the holiday shopping season already upon us, the 2020 toy wars are in full swing. Big players like Target, Walmart and Amazon are leading the way, introducing innovative strategic partnerships and shopping experiences while remaining conscious of consumers’ new shopping priorities and behaviors.

Target Launches Special Toy Collection In Partnership With FAO Schwarz

Target recently announced a new partnership with FAO Schwarz, bringing consumers an exclusive lineup of toys, just in time for the holidays. Through the collaboration, Target will feature a 70-piece FAO Schwarz toy collection, while FAO Schwarz offers more than 300 items from Target. All toy offerings are available in-store and online. In its official press release, Target shared it will also be donating up to $1 million as part of its ongoing partnership with Toys for Tots.

In an effort to reflect the current demands of today’s shoppers, Target is continuing to promote its slew of convenient and contactless fulfillment options. According to Marketing Dive reporters Tatiana Walk-Morris and Ben Unglesbee, “comps for those services, including Pick Up, Drive Up and Shipt, grew 273%” in Q2. 

“This year’s exclusive FAO Schwarz collection and our largest Bullseye’s Top Toys list ever provides something new and exciting for kids of all ages, all at an incredible value,” said Christina Hennington, Target’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. “We also recognize our guests have a lot to think about this holiday season, and we hope they find comfort in the safe, easy experiences we’ve created, whether shopping in our stores or using one of our convenient fulfillment options.”

Walmart Releases Top Toys Of 2020 & New Wonder Lab

walmart toys

For many holiday shoppers, Walmart’s annual “Top-Rated by Kids Toy List” is a highly-anticipated announcement. This year, while the holidays may look different, the excitement around Walmart’s top toys remains the same. The 2020 list spotlights 36 must-have toys for the upcoming holiday season, all of which were tested and chosen by kids themselves. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, Walmart altered their toy list testing, mailing toys out for kids to try safely from the comfort of their own homes. Walmart also introduced an online tool which allowed the young testers to “virtually unbox, test and play with toys.”

“This year’s Top-Rated by Kids Toy List reflects the shift we’ve seen in toy trends and behaviors this year,” said Steve Ronchetto, Walmart’s vice president of toys. “Toys play a critical role in families’ lives as they [families] spend more time at home and parents seek ways to keep kids engaged with learning-based play. More than any year before, we’re seeing strong interest across toys that stem from digital platforms, like kid influencer-created toys, interactive and educational toys, screen-free indoor entertainment and toys for active outdoor play.”

In addition to the 2020 toy list, Walmart also launched its new Wonder Lab, a virtual experience for kids looking to “test out” the 2020 top toys themselves. The retailer described the new interactive lab as a “choice-driven experience where kids can unbox, test and play with this holiday season’s hottest toys without leaving home.”

Amazon Signs Ecommerce Deal With Toys R Us

Broadening its already substantial toy offerings for consumers, Amazon has partnered with Toys R Us to capitalize on the booming online toy business just in time for the holidays. Shoppers browsing the Toys R Us website are now redirected to Amazon to finalize purchases after selecting the “check availability” or “view price now” button on any given product. Target publicized a similar partnership with Toys R Us around this same time last year, but it has since ended, opening the door for Amazon to step in and expand upon its presence in the toy industry. 

“By using the Amazon Associates’ links, Toys R Us – in a digital sense – isn’t functioning as a retailer, but rather as a publisher,” noted James Zahn, senior editor of The Toy Book

Toy retailers and brands must prepare for a strong ecommerce holiday season, filled with evolving consumer habits and a continued interest in toys that help children learn and stay active. Especially during a season in which consumers crave celebration and gift giving – particularly for young children – the toy industry can engage shoppers early through innovative and relevant offerings and partnerships, like those shown in the recent announcements from Target, Walmart and Amazon. Brands that can identify creative ways to deliver on the holiday spirit, differentiate themselves from the pack and keep up with the growing demand for ecommerce solutions with multiple fulfillment options will likely establish customer loyalty well beyond this holiday season. 

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About the Author

Carolyn Harding

Carolyn Harding is an Associate Manager of Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. DMS helps its clients accelerate growth by deploying diversified and data-driven customer acquisition solutions that deliver scalable, sustainable and measurable marketing results. DMS performance marketing solutions connect the right consumers with the right offers at the right time to achieve the marketing objectives of our clients. DMS is continually innovating to provide new and emerging media and technology solutions that minimize waste and maximize results across the most competitive industries. Since its inception, DMS has demonstrated incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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