As interest in toys and games grows, advertisers seize opportunity

Sandy Smith
NRF Contributor
May 7, 2020

It only makes sense: With more time at home and boredom setting in, toy sales are up. Data from the National Retail Federation’s weekly consumer poll for April 22 showed that 59 percent of consumers are purchasing toys — up from 42 percent in March.

That aligns with research from ad sales intelligence business MediaRadar, which found that toy and game companies were spending 2.5 times more on advertising. In March, toy and game companies spent $7.1 million per week, according to the analysis; 89 percent came from children’s toys and games, specifically. For comparison, advertising for toys and games averaged $2.8 million per week in February.

“A little over a month ago, toy sales were not looking good,” Todd Krizelman, co-founder and CEO of MediaRadar, says. “In fact, in late February of 2020, Hasbro warned investors of a decrease in revenue due to challenges with overseas factories because of COVID-19. Ironically, Hasbro didn’t know that by March, the virus would hit the states, just as hard.”

Krizelman notes that toy companies of all types “are seeing a massive surge in sales.” And they’ve responded by investing heavily in advertising.

“With kids home from school, toy companies are looking to get their attention, but also the attention of their parents. While the majority of the ads for kids’ toys are targeted toward children’s programming, not all of the ads were targeted toward the children,” Krizelman says. “In fact, we found that 30 percent of the TV spend in March went to programming not explicitly aimed at kids.”

Ad spending from game system brands is up too. In March, gaming system manufacturers spent more than $11 million, up from $9.5 million in January and February combined. Krizelman says Nintendo Switch Lite is one of the heaviest spenders “despite the fact that it launched back in September 2019.”

Perhaps related: Nintendo Switch Lite has been a challenge to keep in stock, however.

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