More Than Fun And Games: A Lesson In Toy Marketing

A new survey of industry stakeholders reports the global toy market is expected to climb 3% in 2017. And while marketers are optimistic about the future of the vibrant and innovative industry that has sparked recent consumer craze over toys like Hatchimals and Fidget Spinners, getting buy-in from this picky demographic—and their parents—is more than fun and games. Top of mind at this year's Toy Fair was the question: with short trend cycles and even shorter product lifecycles, what's the key to marketing to kids?

Stick to the standards:

Before producing your DRTV, radio, and digital spots, familiarize yourself with the advertising standards governing ads for kids. The Children's Code offers a number of important restrictions. To keep your ads kid-friendly (and on-air) avoid doing any of the following:

1. Directly mention ordering the product

2. Comparing one product to another

3. Showing a child using a product in an unsafe manner

4. Feature a well-known person or cartoon character endorsing the product

5. Mention a web URL without stipulating visitors must be 18 years or older

Keep it simple

The best kids ads are simple and easy to understand. Focus on one or two compelling features of the toy, and highlight those. Show kids playing with the toy so viewers can imagine themselves using the product. At all times, keep in mind the secondary audience — parents.

Know your exact audience

The kids market is a wide one. Make sure you understand and can identify your ideal consumer. This can be done in many ways – demo the product at a kids' events, schools, toy stores, observing which kids gravitate to the toy and how they use it. Look at the marketplace, too. Are there similar products in the market? Who are those targeted to? And finally, when it comes to developing your media buying scheme to get your word out on the airwaves, make sure your media buyer is testing different stations and time periods and tweaking the message through analytics to see which generate the most interest.

Broadcast is best

Broadcast remains the top solution for generating awareness and a response. TV commercial spots work best when supported by a digital marketing campaign. Digital is important, but on its own isn't as effective. This is because the online world is fledgling and fragmented, with a lot of distraction to draw attention away to other things. Advertisers are proven to see better results when leveraging the power and pull that DRTV television and radio brings to a marketing campaign. The demo for kids stations falls somewhere between K2-14 (2-14 year olds), and while other demos are increasingly moving online, kids are still watching television.

Dare to be different

Since advertisers are not allowed to directly compare their product to others, standing out can sometimes be challenging. Ideal toys and games aren't similar to others in the marketplace. Point out the toy's compelling features, show kids using the products, and be sure to point out aspects of the product that are different from any others in the market. Spots should be 'tight' so young viewers aren't tempted to shift their focus to something else.

Choosing between 15, 30, 60, 120-second spots? Be strategic.

What's the ideal length for your toy's DRTV spot or TV commercial? It depends on how the product is being sold, and the time of year. In general, ads should start longer (60 seconds for online sales, 30/15 seconds for retail) and shorten once awareness is created and product use is properly explained. 120-second spots are not effective for children's ads; media real estate for longer ads can be hard to find since there is so little inventory on kid's stations relative to other stations, not to mention children have relatively short attention spans and most toys are not overly complicated.

Got questions about toy marketing for our team? Get in touch!

By Jennifer Young, Senior Media Manager for Long-Form and Kids, Kingstar