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5 trends for toy and game purchases this holiday season

With the loss of big in-store player Toys R Us, and more of a digital reliance, here are the trends to expect in retail this holiday season.

4 min read

Marketing Strategy



We all know the holidays are the make-or-break season for toys and games; and, with Toys R Us closing, it’s clear what a significant player Amazon is in this space. Here are five trends (from a survey by Ripple Street Research) you can expect to see in the toys and games category this holiday season, and we promise, not all involve Amazon.

Amazon and big-box stores will dominate smaller players.

Consumers will undoubtedly shop at a multitude of stores to complete their full holiday shopping list, but according to this survey, the vast majority will be done at Amazon and big-box stores like Walmart and Target. 90% of consumers plan to purchase holiday toys and games on Amazon, 82% from big-box stores in person and 70% from big-box stores online. Only 40% or fewer of consumers plan to visit any other stores!

Women and younger shoppers will buy gifts from Dollar Stores.

Dollar stores are playing an increasingly important role for consumers and are seen as one of the few retail categories that can’t be overtaken by Amazon; free shipping on something that costs 99 cents just isn’t economical. This holiday season, dollar stores should target women and younger shoppers, both of whom are far more likely than their counterparts to visit these retailers for holiday toy and game purchases. Women are roughly twice as likely than men, and shoppers in their 20s are 76% more likely than those in their 40s.

Toys and games with educational components can command more of parents’ budgets.

Most parents seek a balance between toys and games that teach children something valuable, and those that are purely for entertainment. However, parents are willing to spend more for a toy that teaches rather than simply entertains. Nearly all parents (90%) said they are willing to spend more for a toy or game that educates their children, and this is even more crucial to parents of younger kids. Parents of children 0 to 6 years old were  approximately 50% more likely to spend more on an educational toy than parents of children 13 years or older.

Parents of younger kids will rely more heavily on articles, blogs, product reviews and online searches.

Toy and game companies with younger targets should ramp up spending in these areas. Parents of older kids have it easy – kids make a list, they buy items on the list and the shopping is done. Parents of younger kids are a bit more in the dark. Sometimes the kids might make a list, but will parents really buy more plastic junk that will inevitably get shoved into a box, bin, closet, etc. after a few days, weeks or months?

As such, parents of younger kids are more likely to rely on research to find great toys and games. Parents of kids ages 0-6 are over 30% more likely to read product reviews and blogs and 23% more likely to use online search to find good toys and games for their holiday season. Companies marketing to parents of younger children should ramp up their use of bloggers/influencers and search marketing during this holiday season.

Connecting with kids wins parents’ wallets.

This is not so much a “trend” as an eternal truth: children asking directly for a toy or game has the greatest influence on a parent actually purchasing that product for the holidays. Children asking specifically for a toy or game was at least 20% more influential than anything else when it comes to parents purchasing that toy or game for the holidays. Next on that list? Their child trying a toy or game and liking it. This means that getting the toys/games into children’s hands for trial and having them include it on their list (as well as having them talk about it to their friends so it gets on their friends’ lists) is of utmost importance to holiday toy and game sales.

Keep these trends in mind as you execute your marketing plan for the holiday season and it should truly be the most wonderful time of the year.

David Smith is the VP of Research & Analytics at Ripple Street (formerly House Party, Inc.), an influencer marketing platform that connects brands with their biggest fans. He has been instrumental in the development of industry measurement standardization through his involvement with WOMMA/ANA and has worked with many Fortune 500 brands and top agencies on their influencer strategies and measurement.

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