Nik Nayar, senior vice president, hardlines of Target Corp., shared what some of the company’s most-popular toy categories were last holiday season, expanded plans for the year, and more in the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A.

Last year, Target offered an expanded assortment of more than 10,000 toys. In what ways will your brick-and-mortar locations evolve this year?
As we continue to add and curate our toy assortment, we are always exploring new ways to further connect with our guests based on trends and their direct feedback. What we’ve found is that our stores serve as a perfect opportunity to provide unique experiences for them as they shop our toy aisles.

Our partnership with Disney — and opening up 25 Disney at Target locations across the country this past year — is a perfect example of this. After adding a quarter-million additional square feet for toys in 2018, the Disney store at Target locations allowed us to provide one-of-a-kind, in-store experiences to our guests that coincided with the hit movie launches of Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. We offered guests Frozen-specific giveaways, as well as a chance to take their photo with a Star Wars Stormtrooper as they shopped our curated assortment of toys that corresponded with those releases. As we look forward, we believe there’s a lot of opportunity to further expand on these experiences and bring them into even more of our locations. Along with amplifying the shopping experience, we’ve also made getting the hottest toys even easier at our stores by making them available online and through a variety of fulfillment services. Since we’ve introduced same-day order pickup, drive up, and Shipt, we’ve seen a significant use of these different services and an overwhelmingly positive response from guests who might not have time to browse our aisles.

How important is it to carry Target-only exclusives?
With the landscape arguably the most competitive it’s ever been, Target-exclusive toys play a critical role in our overall toy strategy. This past year we introduced more than 500 Target-exclusive toys that we knew would perform well based on toy trends and guest feedback. By carrying exclusives across categories and being the only destination to pick up sought-after items, we’re also able to add a lot of value to collectors when we look across the entire landscape. There was a lot of excitement around trading cards and dolls that we only carried last year, and we anticipate this will remain the case.

What were some of the most popular toy categories at Target last year?
Board games, collectibles, and preschool toys were major volume and growth drivers for us last year, which we anticipated as they play key roles within our overall strategy. Board games provide us an opportunity to secure meaningful, exclusive items to bring our guests into our stores. Collectibles has grown substantially across the industry over the years thanks to new innovation, and we placed big bets in this category with incremental space across the toys floorpad. Preschool toys and our investments in key brands and licensed toys also proved successful this past year when we look at sales from Hot Wheels, PAW Patrol, and LEGO because we’re hitting directly on trends resonating with our guests.

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!