Toys "R" Us Creates Inconvenience and False Demand with Hot Toy Reservation ProgramMeredith Carroll
I’m no MBA, but it seems pretty brilliant to tell parents that there’s an exclusive and special way to reserve the HOTTEST TOY OF THE SEASON before their kids are shit out of luck on Christmas morning.
I am, however, a parent, and telling me that in order to ensure my kid isn’t crying on Dec. 25 because coal was the only thing left on the toy store shelves is that I have to walk into a toy store twice just for the privilege of signing up for a service that will grant me the power to call and buy a toy that the toy store sells exclusively after self-anointing it the HOTTEST TOY OF THE SEASON is the fastest way to ensure I’ll be shopping everywhere but your store.
But nice try anyway, Toys R’ Us.
The toy retailer just announced a free reservation service that will “allow” parents to put a 20 percent down payment on the “hottest toys of the holiday season” — before Oct. 31, according to the New York Daily News.
Those hot toys? They are a creation of Toys “R” Us. They are making their own list with 50 “hot” toys (most of them only available at Toys “R” Us, of course), checking it twice and telling you that your children must have these toys. Must. Have. Them.
The list will be revealed soon, at which time you have to go into a Toys “R” Us to register to buy the toy (you can’t do it online), and then you have to go back to the store a second time sometime before Dec. 16 to pick it up.
If there were ever an excellent example of creating false demand by using smoke and mirrors, this has to be it. Creating a list of toys available only in their stores, telling you they’re HOT HOT HOT, and then ensuring you shop super early in order to get one for your kids? Clearly they think there are enough suckers out there who will believe them, which in turn has the potential to fulfill the Toys “R” Us prophecy by making some of the toys on the list hot, or at least not readily available, before November, which is when more parents are likely to start shopping for the holidays and will want those toys that Toys “R” Us will say are in danger of being sold out.
I don’t begrudge the Toys “R” Us marketing and product gurus for creating a list of toys that might appeal to children. Surely their buyers are good at what they do and put thought and expertise into compiling their list. Just the same as every other toy retailer, like Amazon and Target — no more, no less.
What I do object to is the idea that I have to go into their store twice in order to make this nonexistent dream a reality for my kids. I can’t register online. I can’t go in once and then pay to have them ship me the toy. And I’m positive the customer service desk is in the bowels of the store and only accessible by walking past every imaginable toy shelf. That’s the kind of stuff I object to. Well, that, and really everything else about the program, actually.
Maybe the Toys “R” Us Hot Toy list contains the next Tickle Me Elmo or Cabbage Patch Doll, but it’s doubtful. And I won’t really ever know because I’m so turned off by their cheap, inconvenient tactics that are potentially a huge thorn in the side to many busy parents that I’m sure I’ll never bother looking at their list to find out.
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