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Following the demise of the United States’ most well-known toy retailer, Toys R Us, in 2018, the toy industry faced a steady decline in sales by 4% the following year. Since then, the toy industry has encountered a consistent downturn due to the industry’s focus on traditional forms of paid media and the non-acceptance of digital campaigns. Now, popular toy manufacturers around the world are turning to platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to adapt to its audience of young digital natives and center their marketing spend on social media. Through this strategy, various companies are now directly reaching audiences of children and teens who prefer their favorite online creators’ recommendations as opposed to television ads.
The Toy Industry Takes Over Social Media
The trend of manufacturers in the toy industry working with influencers to promote their products has recently caught the attention of major publications such as The Wall Street Journal. However, it’s not a new phenomenon, as toy content and toy reviews from influencers have become saturated on YouTube in the past few years. In fact, the highest-paid YouTuber is a 9-year-old toy reviewer named Ryan Kaji who earned an estimated IMV values of $29.5M in 2020. Plus, the toy industry was one of the top 12 industries that spent the most money on influencer marketing on YouTube.
Not only do brands in the toy industry sponsor creators on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to promote products, but they also partner with them to create products. YouTube stars like Collins and Devan Key and Diana from the Kids Diana Show (73.7M subscribers) have teamed up with toy manufacturers to develop their own toys based on their likeness. Since these YouTubers have such large audiences, their toy sales are high after the social media campaigns perform well. For instance, retail sales for Ryan Kaji-branded products hit $200M in 2019.
Toy Campaigns on Social Media
With toy content and toy reviews from influencers becoming saturated on YouTube, the toy industry has turned to another popular platform to promote new toy launches. Due to its newfound popularity, many toy companies have partnered with influencer marketing agencies to run social media campaigns on TikTok. However, with no evidence of previous viral toy launches on TikTok, toy brands required fresh strategies and perspectives to leverage the platform.
Want to learn more about using TikTok in your marketing strategy? Check out this blog.
With the goal of engaging the platform and creating a viral presence, it’s crucial for a brand to use the TikTok algorithm to its advantage. By finding a way to work the algorithm, toy brands found they could keep their campaigns fast-tracking for success, extend their reach, and inspire organic content from more users for long-lasting value.
Take the OhMyGif campaign from Moose Toys for example. To best meet the brand’s goals, NeoReach designed a standout campaign approach that boosted the brand’s online presence. They selected influencers tailored to the campaign through software-backed data to ensure OhMyGif collectibles were promoted by breakout influencers and top-performing niche creators with high growth rates and relevant audience demographics.
Through analysis, NeoReach knew that dance-related videos perform the best on TikTok, so we took care of the licensing for an original song and hired a choreographer to create an original dance for influencers to use in their content.
NeoReach contracted and coordinated communication with 52 TikTok creators ranging in popularity from mega to micro-influencers. Influencers contracted by Moose Toys, like TikTok star Addison Rae, also participated. As a result, the campaign received over a staggering 3.8M fan engagements across 94 pieces of content, resulting in over 10M user-generated content videos using the hashtag.
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Standout Influencers in the Toy Industry
Despite the fact that there are multiple kid-friendly accounts on social media, there are standout creators on various platforms that consistently see massive engagement and great feedback from consumers on their sponsored social media posts. The creators that are commonly activated by the toy industry for online campaigns or partnerships include:
- 28.3M subscribers
- 44.8B views
As we mentioned earlier, Ryan is a popular toy reviewer on YouTube that also films science experiments, music videos, skits, challenges, and more. His channel draws in millions of viewers every week which has earned him his own show on Nickelodeon and a line of toys and clothes at Walmart and Target.
- 22.6M subscribers
- 5.5B views
Collins Key posts funny comedy videos where you’ll learn how to make DIY gummy food out of candy, pancake art challenge, pranks, life hacks, and more. His popularity on YouTube has also earned him product lines at Target and Walmart.
- 1.74M subscribers
- 1.066B views
PS Toy Reviews is run by Paul and Shannon, two lifelong collectors of toys. On their channel, they share their love and passion for toys through fun videos such as hunts for collectible toys and figure lines. Uploading every day, Paul and Shannon also love to share toy reviews for other toy collectors to enjoy.
- 2.12M subscribers
- 648M views
Kyle’s Toys & Games is a kid-friendly YouTube channel with entertaining videos that are fun for the whole family. As an avid fan of YouTube, Kyle’s parents helped him create his channel so he could make fun videos for other kids to watch. On his channel, you can find toy reviews, vlogs, games, and more.
- 1.95M subscribers
- 1.1B views
The Epic Toy Channel is a family and kids channel consisting of Justin, Cassi, Johnny, Zoey, and Milo. On their channel, you can find toy reviews, Nerf Battle videos, and more family-friendly entertainment.