Monday, November 13, 2006

The Big Toy Book Debate

Since having my daughter, Daniella, everything about Christmas is much more fun. This includes the decorating, the cooking, and especially picking out the gifts that “Santa” will leave her underneath the Christmas tree.

Like many parents, I try to get a jump on the latter task by October. My proactive game plan is often fueled by the annual Toys R Us marketing blitz that touts the chain’s “coveted” Big Toy Book—a catalog that features the holiday season’s top toy picks, as well as money saving deals and coupons.

Like clockwork, Toys R Us bombards American households with television ads the week prior to Halloween. This year, the catalog was delivered as an FSI in Sunday newspapers on October 29.

As the parent of a 2-and-a-half-year-old, Toys R Us has become a common retailer in my shopping repertoire. The chain, which has been tracking Daniella’s “maturity” since birth, regularly sends coupons for all of her baby and toddler needs. And thanks to Daniella’s enrollment in “Geoffrey’s Birthday Club,” each year she receives a birthday card, a “gift card,” and discounts on birthday party favors.

However, the one thing that the company doesn’t directly send our way is its Big Toy Book.

I understand that Toys R Us blankets the nation with their toy catalog in hopes of building holiday sales. And they also feature the catalog – sans some exclusive coupons – in their stores. However, I think they are missing the big picture.
The company makes the time to target me in when I am in the market to make birthday and everyday purchases. Yet, it stands to gain much more revenue from me during the holidays.

Between October and November I am in serious shopping mode. And my holiday shopping does not end with Daniella – I visit the store for gifts for my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids. And as my past holiday receipts prove, my shopping baskets are often filled with high-ticket items.

Clearly, the mass marketing approach is sure to bring in revenue. Although by failing to target holiday messages, I don’t think Toys R Us is taking the most effective—or lucrative—approach to building its holiday sales.

— Deena Amato-McCoy

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