Posted January 5, 2012 1:16 pm by with 0 comments

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When I was a kid, holiday toy shopping for my mom meant cracking open the Sears Wish Book. She’d chose the items from our lists, call in the order and everything would arrive on the doorstep a few days later. No need to step inside a toy store at all.

Times haven’t changed all that much. Today, parents are still avoiding the aisles by doing a large amount of toy shopping online. Even when they don’t buy online, the internet is influencing their decisions on what to buy. Check out this chart from the new Google study “The Role of Digital in the Toy Shopper’s Journey.”

As you can see, online toy sales have climbed quite a bit in the last seven years. And why not? Online allows parents to shop when their kids are in bed and it allows them to pinpoint exactly what they want. Or rather, what they’re kids want. 67% of toy purchasers were significantly influenced by children. This is because parents know that when Johnny asks for a Power Ranger Samurai Megazord Action Figure, a generic, plastic robot simply won’t do.

The Google study found that toy shoppers hit an average of three different resources before buying. Online retailer sites was the most often used resource (44%) with video sharing sites coming in next at 43%. That one perplexes me. Are they watching toy demo videos? Ads for specific toys? How does video fit into this puzzle?

Search and manufacturer’s sites both scored 39%. Traditional offline advertising such as TV, newspapers and magazines never rose above 24%.

Toy Shopping Goes Mobile

Only 18% of shoppers said they use a mobile device when looking for toys. The vast majority preferred to use their home computer. I wonder if this is more about the average toy buyer demographic and less about the mechanics of mobile shopping.

The study found that most people used their phone for pre-purchase research. 50% used it to compare prices and 32% read reviews. What’s really interesting is that after researching 31% went to a store to purchase the item and only 25% continued with their purchase online.

Looks like mobile still has a ways to go.

Are you in the toy biz? Now that your busy season is over you have time to peruse the full “The Role of Digital in the Toy Shopper’s Journey” study. It’s 37 slides of interesting insights into how toy shoppers decide what to buy.