PERSPECTIVES: Toy Manufacturer Marketing & Advertising Activities in 2012

As toy companies finalize their marketing plans for Fourth Quarter 2013 promotions, Anne McConnell, Toy Industry Association (TIA) director of market research & data strategy, provides insights into the top advertising strategies of toy manufacturers just one year ago.

August 19, 2013 | Recent research from the Toy Industry Association found that 70% of toy companies relied very heavily on online and electronic media to deliver their promotional messages in 2012.  These findings were corroborated by parents:  one in five (21%) reported that their kids let them know about a ‘must-have’ toy or game digitally – either pointing it out online, setting up an online wish list, or sending a text or email about the desired product.

Toy companies must continue to effectively target customers using assorted media at varying levels that make the most sense given today’s technically savvy consumer. 

Taking a quick look back at the 2012 advertising and marketing activities reported during a survey of more than 10% of TIA’s manufacturer members, we found that:

  • 7 in 10 toy companies used their websites and online advertisements to reach consumers. 

  • E-mail blasts were especially important to smaller and mid-sized companies:  8 in 10 manufacturers with annual sales under $10 million used direct e-mail in their marketing efforts, compared to just over half (56%) of those with sales ranging between $10 - $50 million, and only a third (33%) of those with annual sales above $50 million.

  • Co-op advertising (joint ventures between a manufacturer and a retailer whereby the manufacturer reimburses the retailer for some or all advertising expenditures) was used by 58% of study participants as a means of reaching target markets’ cost effectively.  Every responding firm with annual sales greater than $50 million reported that they used co-op ads.

  • Magazine advertising was used by about half, and broadcast TV by nearly a third.  Not surprisingly, these media (along with cable TV advertising) were more likely to be used by companies with heavier sales volume.  Half of participating companies with sales greater than $50 million used broadcast and cable TV in their marketing mix; 80% used magazine advertising.

  • Still used, but to a much lesser degree than other media, were newspaper (13%) and radio (9%) advertising.

2013 Financial & Operating Benchmark Study
Advertising/Marketing Activities Companies Employed in 2012
Source:  Toy Industry Association 2013 Financial and Operating Benchmark Study.    Note: Small base size.

Media Sales

What does this data tell us?   Online and electronic communications will remain pillars in the advertising mix for 2013, providing an increasingly effective means of reaching target audiences. 

This article is based upon data from the Toy Industry Association’s 2013 Financial and Operating Benchmark Study (conducted by Industry Insights) and The Toy & Game Family Decision Making Study (conducted by The Family Room in partnership with TIA). The results of these studies are available for TIA members only.  Additional information can be found in the Resources section of or from TIA’s Anne McConnell.