Seasonal Advertising News


Holiday Toy Catalogs Evolve For The Digital Age

December 2, 2019 Digital Media Solutions

Shutterstock_331905611 Christmas Child Write Letter to Santa Claus, Kid in Santa Hat Writing Wish List, unfocused lights background

Mailboxes bursting with catalogs is a tell-tale sign the holiday shopping season is here. Before the internet, the holiday toy catalog was the go-to source for children to learn about the most coveted toys of the season. Even in the digital age, holiday catalogs are still highly anticipated in most American households. Sitting down with a marker and circling items is a right-of-passage not lost to the age of online and digital shopping, but enhanced by it.

The Evolution Of The Holiday Catalog

Print catalogs have evolved to remain relevant. Today, catalogs serve as marketing tools to reach buyers, vehicles to increase customer loyalty and key drivers of sales. Increased data efficiency allows retailers to develop an understanding of customers buying habits, lifestyles and demographics. Catalogs can help brands reach the right audience at the right time, complimenting digital marketing tactics.

The distribution of catalogs is just one piece of retailers’ marketing efforts to engage with consumers. According to Retail Dive, integrating catalogs with e-commerce and store operations is key. Catalogs remain an important sales channel as retailers work to build seamless experiences that integrate print, digital and in-store marketing efforts.

Top Toy Catalogs Integrate Print With Digital Components

Shutterstock_ 775046200 Stylish woman in reindeer hat holding phone and laptop, under Christmas tree lights. shopping online, sale. space for text. seasonal greetings, happy holidays. social media

Amazon, Walmart and Target are the largest retailers in the holiday toy market. These three retailers have released toy catalogs along with sophisticated marketing efforts to engage customers, draw them online and increase sales.

Walmart Enhancing Mobile Shopping Experiences With Catalogs

Consumers will spend $14 billion on their smartphones to buy gifts this holiday season, and smartly Walmart is using its toy catalog to improve mobile shopping experiences. The retailer is utilizing scan&scan for the first time, allowing customers to scan catalog items, add them directly to their cart and check out on their Walmart app. Walmart is also luring consumers online with Toy Lab, a virtual testing experience and online game site that enables consumers to get a closer look and see the hottest toys in action. Walmart recognizes that being a retailer isn’t just selling items, but creating consumer experiences. Toy Lab puts a new spin on the traditional catalog much like unboxings and user-generated content (UGC) on social media

Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog Customizes Content & Drives Sales Online

Amazon, the number one e-commerce company, printed a toy catalog in 2018 and is back with a second edition. Amazon’s holiday catalog does not feature price, but scan&shop QR codes linking back to their website, immediately drawing shoppers to place orders. Amazon is also using its catalog to promote Prime Video, by reminding consumers of Amazon Prime programming that corresponds to licensed products sold in the catalog. Forbes predicts Amazon could be customizing the catalog content based on the recipient, and if it is not already doing so, it will in the near future. Amazon knows customer purchasing habits, TV shows viewed on Prime Video and even clothing sizes. The retailer could use this data to target the catalog’s audience and provide custom content based on the recipient. As an added touch, the Amazon toy catalog features a sticker sheet to tag items, mad-libs and a page for kids to write wish lists.

Target Toy Catalog Draws Shoppers Online With Discounts

Like Amazon and Walmart, Target is utilizing its toy catalog to power holiday sales and entice consumers to buy online. The Target catalog offers coupons and discounts redeemable exclusively online. is offering its Circle members “daily deals” of featured toys throughout the month of November and promoting the deals on its social media pages.

Target has partnered with the recently revived Toys “R” Us (TRU) website. The TRU website offers product reviews, toy lists and activities, but to actually buy toys, the TRU website sends all of its online sales to for purchase. This partnership increases Target’s exposure and reach online. 

Holiday Toy Catalogs Still Play A Vital Role In Today’s Digital World

Most marketers realize a marketing mix across channels is important to drive growth. This holiday season, Amazon, Walmart and Target are utilizing their toy catalogs to increase sales and engage with consumers. For those nostalgic for days gone by, it is heartwarming to see kids still engaging with print toy catalogs, and the digital components certainly make it easier to accomplish holiday shopping goals.

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About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: DMS) is a leading provider of technology and digital performance marketing solutions leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS proprietary technology solutions, significant proprietary media distribution and data-driven processes help large brands steadily acquire more customers. For more information visit

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