Earlier this year in August, Walmart rebranded its toy store to “America’s Best Toy Shop,” which included an expanded selection, a focus on in-store events and demonstrations, as well as marketing through “toy influencers” who post content to YouTube.
In an effort in the direction, this holiday season, Walmart is trying something new to convert their prospective ‘young’ leads into customers.
On Friday, Walmart launched a new website called the “Toy Lab,” that helps children learn about its products through demonstrations and then put them on wish lists for the holidays. The website is both a marketing and data play as it aims to promote Walmart’s newly branded toy store and helps the retailer learn children’s buying behaviour.
A key marketing goal of the Toy Lab, Eko Chief Creative Officer Alon Benari said, is to enlist the “unboxing” anticipation and browsing enthusiasm of kids exploring new toys, by providing “an interactive video version of a toy catalogue.” “Everyone gets a Golden Ticket to play with the toys,” he said, referencing the film, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
In the online interactive video, buttons offer a 360-degree view of the Lab. There is a “play” function, where the host shows different play scenarios of the toys, a Fun Cam showing children’s free play with the toys, and a button marked “Don’t Push.” When pushed — which obviously everyone does — the “Don’t Push” button shows something surprising, like the camera turned upside down, the on-screen human host turning into a cookie or the host becoming invisible.
Benari said Walmart doesn’t have any data yet on site usage, or whether this approach makes a difference in toy sales. A paid media campaign promoting the interactive Toy Lab includes pre-roll ads on YouTube, as well as displays in Times Square.
“This was a way for us to make the toy catalog more fun, engaging and interactive — it’s a way to experience what these types of toys are like as [customers] plan purchases,” said Walmart spokesperson Tara House. “What will be interesting is what gets the most attention, what [content] the kids are engaging most with, and what ends up on the wish lists.”
“This is about getting feedback and buzz,” said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Kodali. “Maybe part of it is to replicate some of the magnetic qualities of product review videos on YouTube.”