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Fun Customer Facts from the Toy Industry

Posted by Bill Lee on January 4, 2012 at 02:06 PM

From a recent Associated Press artilcle published in the Dallas Morning News over the holidays.

You might say toy makers are almost "hiring" customers to spearhead their marketing programs.Note that they don't pay them of course--the value that the "mommy bloggers" get goes way beyond mere money.

- Five years ago, the toy industry sent 98% of promotional new toy samples to to newspapers, televsiion stations, and magazine. Now, 70% go to bloggers--particularly to proliferating "mommy bloggers" eager to share and exchange ideas on child rearing.

- In the US, there are now some 4 million mommy bloggers.

- Mattel--the worlds biggest toy maker--has a database of 400 mommy bloggers.

- .Cepia, which makes robotic Zhu Zhu pets, relies on mommy bloggers for beta testing.

- When LeapFrog Enterprises rolled out its LeapPad Explorer tablet, it organized "mommy parties" redolent of the old Tupperware parties, with a social media twist. Invitations and "blgger kits" were sent to 200 selected mommy bloggers, which included a LeapPad, with a game included, and coupons. It also had suggestions on how many people to invite (5 adults, 15 kids) and even suggested treats (ice cream sundaes!). Colorodo mommy blogger Emily Vankek raved about it on her  "all things mom and kids in Colorado" blog--telling her 6,000 readers. "... and my favorite part, it's not just mindless games they're playing." Some stores wound up selling out of the LeapPad.

- Spin Master sent a reformulated version of Moon Dough--a competitor of Play Doh--to 500 bloggers, resulting in thousands of postings about the product on the Web. The firm gives some of the credit to its mommy bloggers for a double digit increase in sales (the company won't provide details), and for reducing the time such a rollout would have normally taken by several months.

- Sometimes mommy reviews are unfavorable. Crayola, for example, took hits for its new Crayola Colored Bubbles product when it caused stains, and responded with changes. Savvy toy makers adjust their go-to-market approach to this new reality--such as Cepia, which brings mommies into product beta testing to help identify problems before going live. By doing so, and responding when they suggest changes--as Cepia did with its new Zhu Zhu building set--firms can build loyalty rather than resentment. 

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