A Play-by-Play Guide to Marketing Toys & Games Online

Updated on February 9, 2018

From remote-control drones to superheroes, 2016 was an outstanding year for retailers in Toys & Gaming. The category beat last year’s mid-year and annual growth rates, growing 7.5% in the first half of 2016. According to Internet Retailer, the Toys & Hobbies sector is expected to have raked in $14.6 billion in 2016 overall, which doesn’t even take into consideration Gaming, which became a $23.5 billion industry thanks to the rise of mobile games.

Analyzing data from over 2 million Toys & Gaming transactions — with a total revenue of nearly $140 million — across the US and UK from August through September 2016, in addition to insights from a survey of recent online purchasers of Toys & Gaming items, we unpacked some interesting finds about online consumer behavior leading up to the 2016 holiday shopping season:

  • Shopkins, Pokémon, and LEGO were the top three most searched-for toys — Shopkins thanks to the sheer volume of tie-in items, Pokémon, resurging with the release of the Pokémon Go mobile game, and LEGO as a perennial favorite, with countless licensing deals for timely properties like Star Wars and Ghostbusters.
  • General terms like “Doll,” “Swing,” and “Cars” were popular, indicating that customers haven’t yet developed specific brand or product preferences and giving marketers plenty of room to compete and win new customer loyalty.
  • Shoppers are most decisive about portable gaming consoles (like Nintendo 3DS), Games & Puzzles, and Sports Toys. As a whole these subcategories’ Conversion Efficiency Index ratings — i.e. the number of individual page views in the subcategory divided by the number of transactions — are high.
  • Shoppers spend a significant amount of time researching Building Toys like LEGO and Tinkertoys, but are far more likely to convert than in other subcategories. The likely explanation: they’re sifting through a large quantity of available SKUs (again, LEGO licenses heavily) yet intend to purchase from the get-go.

Looking to take advantage of our intel? Here are some top takeaways:

  • Brand loyalty is crucial: 68% of toy and game purchasers surveyed said they had a brand in mind when beginning to shop, ten points higher than brand loyalty across the board.
  • The more specific your listings, the better: Among top-three purchase influencers, nearly half (47%) of those surveyed named product images, while 67% cited product description and 29% cited video clips. Parents want to know size, shape and feel of toys and games in advance.
  • Selection is key: 40% of toys and games shoppers surveyed said they’ve abandoned a site for poor selection, which is 6% higher than the overall average.
  • Money is less of an object: When shopping for kids, only 75% of toy shoppers said price-tag was a top-three influencer, which is significantly lower than the overall average (82%).
  • Reviews are a dealmaker (or dealbreaker): 50% of respondents rated customer reviews as a top-three influence on sales. Parents want honest feedback from other parents before buying. Enable other customers to comment on and rate them to further substantiate and surface the most helpful reviews at the top.
Subscribe to our newsletter

Fresh sales trends and consumer insights to help you plan and win.