Who puts the hot in "hot toy"? Literally millions of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles make decsions based upon retailer generated "hot toy" lists; many thinking that "hot" means "good". In many cases it does but not always.
In that these lists have so much influence on what sells, I wanted to get a better idea for their dynamics by seeing if their were commonalities between the lists; not in the toys chosen but in the companies represented.
In order to get my head around the issue, I conducted a meta-analysis of the four leading
retailer “Hot Toy” lists: Toys R Us, Kmart, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart. (*See the end of this article for the
meta-analysis breakdown). Together the lists constitute 73 “Hot Toys” (I left
out house brands). Here is what I found:
Wal-Mart “…brought together 1,000 kids ages 18 months
to 10 years to test, play with, and help select the top toys for the
- 7 out of 20 of the selected
toys were from Mattel (35%)
- 5 were from Hasbro (25%)
- 14 out of 20
(70%) were from publicly held companies.
It makes you wonder what toys the children were given from which to select.
Kmart did not provide its criteria on its website. A review of the numbers, however, found a similar
pattern to what was observed with Wal-Mart’s list.
- 6 out of 15 were from Mattel (40%)
- 2 out of
15 were from Hasbro (13%)
- 9 out of 15 were from publicly held companies
Toys “R” Us also did not provide criteria on its
website. What was interesting about
the Toys R Us list was that, with the exception of Hasbro which had two, no toy
had more than one item on the list.
Products from publicly held companies made up 40% of the picks.
Kohl’s also did not provide criteria for its
- 9 out of 25 items were from
- 3 out of 25 were from Hasbro (12%)
- 14 out of 25 (56%) were from publicly
- 54% were from publicly traded companies
- 33% were from Mattel
- 14% were from Hasbro
As these lists are designed to sell merchandise rather than reward design excellence, it is easy to see why big toy companies, particularly
public ones, dominate the lists. They
typically provide a greater variety of products and are
able to provide more advertising and promotion than smaller companies.
Though understandable, it is a shame that so many great toys
from less funded companies go unrecognized. Not only that but children, parents and
particularly grandparents can be forgiven for thinking that these lists
constitute the best toys when in reality (though some are indeed great toys)
they are really more about the advertising that children are going to be exposed to on line and
on television than about play value.
*Here is a break down by manufacturer and by percentage of the number of times a manufacturer was named on the four combined lists.