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Hardly any target group responds better to measures aimed at ensuring customer loyalty than parents. They have clearly predictable needs when it comes to buying toys for their children, which means there is opportunity for the toy trade to turn them into loyal repeat purchasers. At the same time, today’s parents are more confused than ever by all of the advice and options when looking for the right toys. And this is precisely where toy retailers can impress parents through what is known as life cycle recommendations – completely tailored toy recommendations based on their children’s ages.
However, you have to know your target groups well for this, especially how old the parents’ children are right now. Online retailers have a number of ways of approaching this, such as analysing their customers’ shopping baskets or asking for the age of the children during the ordering process. But brick-and-mortar retailers can also use newsletters designed accordingly to find out how old their customers’ children are at that time. For data protection reasons, however, customers must always be informed about the use of their data and consent to this.
There are also interesting possibilities for life cycle recommendations on Facebook, as advertisements placed there can target parents directly with age-appropriate toys. Only parents with kids in the specific age group are then shown the relevant advertisement.
Disney has perfected the principle of life cycle recommendations. The entire customer journey is supported, from infancy through to the teenage years, and parents receive regular hints and tips on which of the company’s toys are right at that time. This offers Disney a dual return, as over time both parents and children become loyal fans.
Loyalty programmes are another interesting option for toy retailers. Using these, retailers can gradually turn first-time buyers into repeat customers and recommenders, thereby saving valuable resources. However, you need more than bonus points and customer cards to build customer loyalty. Customers want services targeted individually at them which create value for them. This is especially crucial nowadays: the more similar the ranges offered by retailers, the more a retailer has to engage with customers in order to hang on to them in the long run.
Small surprises are often enough for a lasting effect. Personalised gifts which go beyond typical promotional items show appreciation for customers who shop in your store. When it comes to toys, small lifestyle accessories or (collectors’) items which give children a feeling of having also gained a little “trophy” from the shopping experience are some suitable ideas.
Services which provide uncomplicated support to parents with any problems, at every contact point, especially add a lot of value. This relates to product availability, delivery times, payment options and complaints in particular.
Offering a service that people are not yet familiar with is a real trump card. One such service that is still not widespread is offering a gift receipt, for example. This is included with the gift and allows the recipient to return the product without needing the sales receipt. By then providing advice, retailers can help with the search for the right product and maybe, with just a little effort, even acquire new customers who are impressed enough with the wide range of services to return again.
About the author
As Managing Director of the servicemeisterei agency, Ralf Wendland has helped numerous national and international companies from the toy sector implement brand management, strategic development and communication projects over many years. His work always considers both the strategic view and how things look from the customer’s perspective and he also believes it is important that the company’s employees are well aware of the brand and strategy of their employer at all times.
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