This blog post is all fun and games (and a few statistics)

Toys and games? Fun. Parties? Fun. So it’s really not surprising that our campaigns for toy and game clients have been both plentiful and successful. In fact, we crunched some numbers recently and found that our dozens of such campaigns — with over 60,000 parties in total — have:

  • Engaged over 1.5 million participants, generating over half a billion total impressions
  • Driven over 1.8 million at-party product trials
  • Sparked over 5 million social posts and 600,000 photos and videos

With this as a backdrop, we wanted to learn more about what makes these campaigns such hits. How are consumers today buying and using toys and games, and how is word of mouth affecting their purchase behavior? To find out, we surveyed our community of advocates, garnering responses from over 5,000 moms (with children age 0-17). Here are the highlights of our study:

Consumers are purchasing more toys and games online than even just two years ago. All told, they purchase most often at Walmart (online or in-store), followed by Target, Amazon and Toys R Us.

Most respondents are purchasing these items regularly, although toys make it into shopping carts far more often than board games do: 55% of respondents purchase toys at least monthly vs. 18% for board games. Parents of infants or toddlers are buying even more often than those with older children — 29% more often, to be precise.

And what’s driving those purchases? Word of mouth, more often than not. A majority of respondents — 83% — are willing to spend more on a toy or game that has been personally recommended to them. (Most will spend 10%-24% more for an item that comes recommended.)

As you might expect, word of mouth is especially important with more expensive items; as the price goes up, so does the weight placed on what your friends and family say. When asked how influential recommendations are, on a scale from one to ten, a majority of respondents chose nine or ten for items costing at least $100.

Consumers are involving their friends after purchasing, too. 47% are hosting board game get-togethers at least monthly, and almost everyone — 94%! — wants to do so more often. This suggests a great opportunity for toy and game brands willing and able to provide social usage occasions around their products.

When we segmented the respondents by generation, we found that Millennials (age 18-33) are even more enthusiastic about toys and games than other consumer segments. They purchase more (and make more of their purchases online), are more influenced by word of mouth, and — once they’ve purchased — are using what they’ve bought more frequently, with 58% of them hosting monthly board game get-togethers (and 96% of them wishing they did so more often).

The message is clear: anyone marketing a toy or game brand must consider the power of peer influence on purchase decisions. For an example of how one leading brand engages its advocates to drive recommendations and sales, check out our interview with Hasbro’s Meghan McSheffrey.