In my last article, “Hot Toys vs. The TOTY Nominees,” I broke out the differences and similarities between the Hot Toy lists from retailers like Walmart and Target. I compared them to the recently released Toy of the Year nominees.
In that article, I asked and answered these questions:
- How many toys were included in the aggregate Hot Toy ists? 95
- How many toys were included in the aggregate TOTY list? 123
- How many different brands were included in the Hot Toy lists? 38
- How many different brands were included in the TOTY list? 66
- How many brands were on both lists? 11
- What toy brands were on both lists? Crayola, Fisher-Price,
Hasbro, Just Play, Kid Trax, Lego, Little Tikes, Mattel, MGA, Moose Toys, Spin
- How many toys made both lists? 10
It is an honor to be nominated for a TOTY award. It’s the equivalent of being proposed for an Oscar, an EMMY, or a Tony award. When I study the six retailer toy lists (Walmart, Target, Amazon, Smyths, Tesco, and Hamleys, I find that out of 123 TOTY nominated toys, only ten toys were deemed “Hot” by the major retailers. It’s a bit like 123 movies and actors receiving Oscar nominations with only ten being chosen for showing in movie theaters.
The brands that created these toys didn’t fare much better. Only 11 of the TOTY nominated brands were included on the retailer “Hot” toy lists. That means that out of the 66 TOTY nominees, 55 failed to be deemed ‘Hot.”
The question is, why is there such a difference? It’s an essential question because 113 toys and 55 companies did not receive the promotion and concomitant large orders that result from being selected as a “Hot” toy.
A primary criterion for a retail toy buyer and the TOTY committee is the quality of the Toy. Is it unique, does it have substantial play value, and most importantly, “will kids want it?” That, however, is where they part ways.
A retail buyer wants to know:
- Is the toy company running advertising? If so, how much and it what formats? Does the company have a history of fulfilling their promotional promises?
- Will the toy company provide the retailer with promotional allowances so that the product can be promoted at an eye-catching price?
- Does the company have a reputation for shipping on time and as promised?
- Does the company have a history of providing toys with low defective rates?
- Will the toy company provide the retailer with an exclusive?
- Is the company’s brand well-known, and does its reputation encourage consumers to make a purchase?
These are criteria that can be very difficult for smaller brands to meet. Can anything be done so that worthy products and brands can win more than an award?
One thing that would be helpful would be for Toy of the Year Award nominees to be announced much earlier in the year. Toy retailers may be more likely to choose a product that has a strong third-party validation. The inclusion of “Toy of the Year Award Winner” on the box and in the promotion would be a motivator for retailers. And yes, the TOTY committee may have to make their judgements based upon prototypes, but in many cases so do retailers.
And how about some heart. It would wonderful if the major retailers led with their hearts as well as their brains by devoting some in-store real estate and promotional dollars to incubating smaller brands and their great products.
The industry as a whole and the retailers, in particular, would benefit from an environment that doesn’t just acknowledge greatness with a trophy but with a place on a Hot Toy List.