Internet-connected tech toys and games are on this year’s family holiday wish lists, but one category needs some small fixes in order to win a spot in parents’ shopping carts. That is because manufacturers have stopped production of certain connected toys, even though parents and kids still want them.
While many families love the idea of interactive video games that feature action figures and vehicles which players can control within the game, most manufacturers have yet to get the recipe right for them.
About one in five families with children ages 12 and under own a connected toy, according to a Fall 2018 Ipsos syndicated LMX Family study that tracks technology and media usage among families with kids 0- to 17-years-old. And although purchase intent fell four percentage-points since Spring 2018, one in 10 families still plan to buy connected toys in the next year. Parents like smart, connected toys because kids can play them with in a lot of ways, they see them as creative, they bring toys to life and their kids can play them with their friends.
Ipsos monitored social conversations among parents. They revealed that with just a handful of fixes, families might put these connected tech gifts back into holiday wrappings.
Their feedback showed the main positive driver is that the toy caters to adults/for adults to be able to play with their kids (or on their own). They also indicated that the effects in the games themselves are good quality. The negatives included frustrations with loading time, cumbersome toy pieces, and as a result, children giving up. They also pointed out tech issues and customer service grievances.
But useful patterns in those issues create a path forward for toymakers with the following priorities:
Give adequate, around-the-clock technical support and be responsive to complaints on social media
“We had a defective launch pad in our Christmas present to our kids,” said one parent. “We contacted the company. After four days and four emails, hours on hold, they lost all our emails. No supervisors to talk to – they can call you back (like that would happen). I have tried contacting them via Twitter and Facebook only to be ignored. They only reply to positive comments. If you ever have an item break or missing good luck! Their Facebook is filled with problems from customers and no resolutions!!”
Be mindful of needed time investment to assemble and play and with how much adult supervision
“Takes forever to put the pieces together to where you can’t even play the game,” said another shopper, voicing a common concern. “By the time we got the pieces all put together, my son was not interested in playing the video game itself, and it has now sat since Christmas!”
Stay true to the brand promise – be consistent and authentic- worth the price
“Price aside, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this connected toy,” said another parent. “If you just get the main game first and play through it that’s the best way. Then start to get some extra packs. As a long time, fan, it was fantastic playing with this version of iconic characters and vehicles I love. The kids did too!”
The main ways that parents hear about new connected toys are product reviews, blogs, word-of-mouth, retail/brand websites, video reviews. Most importantly, they come from their own children’s wish lists. Once toy companies resolve these issues, they can get back to the business of marketing to parents.