Source: Pixabay

2021 will be a year of change. The new digital purchase funnel brought on by changed behaviors and adapting to our mostly online life means that if you want to sell toys to kids in 2021, your marketing strategy needs to change, too.

Parent-focused campaigns won’t cut it anymore. The events and restrictions of 2020 have created a cohort of parents whose fear of disappointing their kids is so heightened that they’re buying exactly what their kids are asking for rather than risk purchasing based on store displays and their own nostalgia. Marketers risk wasted spend when parents are targeted instead of the kids. Instead, efforts should revolve around generating excitement with the end consumer — the kids — and driving that all-important kid-ask.

Some of 2021’s biggest trends linked to kids marketing are: the metaverse, including gaming and harnessing the digital playground; enriched online experiences for kids where they can interact with their favorite creators in nontoxic environments; and a higher frequency of content and ads. The common themes between these trends are digital, access, kid-centricity, and more is more.

The reason for this is that the online/offline distinction, which was already minimal for kids, now doesn’t exist — something that we all need to keep in mind. Parent barriers have also dropped. Screen time isn’t a reward for good behavior anymore — it’s the default, necessitated by the pandemic. Digital has taken on multiple roles in the family home: babysitter, educator, friend, and entertainer — and kids have access pretty much whenever they want. So how can toy marketers tap into the online space in order to promote offline and IRL play? I’d advise marketers to use our tried-and-true formula: right audience, platform, content, frequency, and scale.

First, identify your audience of kids — their age, gender, and interests. At this point, gaming and influencers are ubiquitous with kids of all ages and genders, and these two mega trends are a great place to start. This leads us to platforms, where your kids most enjoy spending their time online.

Prioritize the platforms and environments that your demographic of kids likes the most. For kids, context is everything, and it’s essential to carefully consider where your brand appears. Think omnichannel — YouTube is a great place to start, but where else? Half of all kids ages 4-9 think brands are cool when they advertise within their favorite games. Think about mobile gaming apps, gaming within OTT environments, and large-scale platforms like Roblox.

Next, we need to define how your brand appears in your content. Toy companies usually use a TV commercial for all video ad placements, but we’ve found incredible success in creating platform-specific video and interactive ads that feature influencers as well as the toy and brand. We place these units into gaming environments, OTT content, YouTube, and more. Creating ads and influencer content specifically for individual platforms enables you to speak to the audience with the appropriate tone and vibe, so it’s important to implement this approach into your 2021 content strategies.

Within gaming platforms, takeovers and branded, in-world build-outs can drive serious attention, brand recognition, and important time spent with your target audience. Amplify the activation and create a multiplatform loop by working with off-platform influencers to create kid-safe social video content about the experience.

Finally, digital frequency is your friend. While the digital ad industry often calls attention to frequency capping, we need to think of content directed at kids differently, and marketers should double down on repetition. Our research shows that kids are much more likely to ask their parents for a product they’ve seen multiple times, across multiple platforms. Kids are better able to connect with and recall products seen in multiple places, so it’s essential for kids to feel familiar with your brand through advertising. Also bear in mind that kids’ weekdays are mirroring previous weekend behavioral patterns, so you should consider weekday mornings and evenings as important as you would consider Saturdays and Sundays.

SuperAwesome can help you safely and authentically navigate all these trends and opportunities. You can also find out more via our latest research report covering these topics at superawesome.com/reports.


This article was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!