Big Fads and Other Acts of God

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Not a whole lot of people are left who can remember the Jitterbug fad of the 1930's but depending upon how old you are, you can probably remember really, really, really wanting a Hula Hoop, a Cabbage Patch Doll, a Furby or some other fad of the moment.

Download (3)Today’s children are now going to have their chance for sublime happiness with this year’s fad toy: Hatchimals. Produced by Canadian toy company, Spin Master, and sold in any retailer that can get their hands on them, Hatchimals are birdlike creatures that arrive in a big egg. The child nurtures the egg in order for it to hatch. He or she does not know exactly what Hatchimal is going to peck its way out of the egg so there is a big reveal when it pecks its way out. Once arrived, the child continues to nurture bird as it goes through three more stages of growth.

What, however, makes people (primarily parents) crave fad toys for their children so badly that they will literally fight over them? You may recall that when Cabbage Patch dolls took off in 1983 there were literally riots in stores like Kmart, Sears and Macy’s. How do we know a toy like Hatchimals has become a fad? Here are some things to look for:

  1. Irrational exuberance  – There are a lot of great toys out there but a great fad toy is based upon…well we really don’t know what a great fad is based upon. They just seem to come out of nowhere, an act of God if you will.
  2. Unplanned scarcity — Toy companies have no way of knowing what toy is going to create a stampede. When Star Wars took off in 1977, the Kenner Toy Company had no idea that their Star Wars action figures were going to be so popular that they would fly off the shelves. What did Kenner do? They sold empty boxes with promissory notes and those sold out as well.
  3.  Crazy high prices — Prices on eBay and other popular websites have gone wild. Some resellers are asking, instead of the suggested retail of $49.99, anywhere from $149.99 for one to $1495 for a set of seven. If you want to get your child (or shhhhhhhh, yourself) a Hatchimal this year, my recommendation is don’t buy one online from a reseller.

If they are acts of God then God has chosen to bless Hatchimals. That's great for Spin Master and good for the rest of us. After all, fads bring kids and parents into the toy department; we love fads.

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