Toy Marketing: 5 Key Strategies to Go Viral on TikTok

Toy marketing on TikTok is a speciality of ours. Here are 5 examples of strategies + why they work, so your brand can ace your next campaign.
Fanbytes | Toy marketing

In 30 seconds:

  • Can you advertise toys on TikTok? The answer is a big, resounding “yes”.
  • Toy brands on TikTok can expect to find engaged audiences of all ages – and a market not yet saturated by competition.
  • The best toy marketing campaigns on TikTok use native-style content to reach new groups of customers. We’re breaking down how they do it.

Any toy company marketing strategy that fails to include TikTok in its social media push is missing a serious trick. 

That’s because the video-sharing social media platform has launched some of the most successful advertising campaigns in recent years, and its audience is largely young people who use social media to find inspiration for their next purchase. 

Gen Z, for example, who are currently aged between 10 and 25 years-old, make up the majority of TikTok’s ever-growing user base and are estimated to account for 40% of global consumers

Early data is already showing that the toy industry’s next key market is Gen Z. That’s because they’re beginning to embrace the idea of buying toys for themselves, with 70% buying themselves a toy to fill their downtime with in 2020. We already know that Gen Z loves nostalgia, and a recent uptick in the idea of ‘healing the inner child’ has spawned videos with over 520 million views on TikTok

And it’s not just Gen Z on TikTok: 39% of Millennials are on the platform, too, making TikTok an ideal space to market to parents. In fact, #ParentsofTikTok has over 23 billion views currently.

What we’re saying is – it’s a great time to be a toy brand on TikTok.  

How do you market a toy brand to young people?

Long gone are the days of toy campaigns and TV ads that rely on gender stereotypes. Now there are new ways to trigger brand awareness and toy sales.

Research has shown that by the age of seven, the majority of children already own mobile devices. It’s easy to see how social media platforms are one of the best ways to market toy brands, for the obvious reason that they’re home to an awful lot of young people. 

In fact, TikTok’s short videos continue to replace traditional TV-watching, for both young Gen Z members (who wield $143 billion in spending power), and their parents. That means, for toy brands, social media will ultimately play a more influential role than television advertising when it comes to attracting younger audiences.

Even amongst social media platforms, TikTok is unique, because it heavily skews towards a younger demographic: 70% of the app’s audience is under 24 years old, with 30% of users aged under 17. That’s a lot of teenagers and younger children, and 90% of them are tuning into the app every day, for an average of 52 minutes a day

In short, TikTok has a lot to offer toy brands, if you get it right. That’s where our digital marketing expertise comes in… 

Toy marketing strategies on TikTok: Our top 5 & why they work

When you’re developing your marketing plan, it pays to check out what the rest of the market is doing, so you can see which of their ads are working, and more importantly: why. 

We’ve pulled out five of our favourite toy advertising examples and analysed the strategy that worked for them on TikTok. So when you’re looking for toy marketing inspiration, look no further… 

1. Tap into relevant TikTok trends

Taking advantage of current TikTok trends in your toy advertising can exponentially boost the reach of your products. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve built our own analytics and social listening tool, Bytesights to inform our campaigns. It gives our clients an almost unfair advantage to optimize their content and surf the wave of viral trends on the platform.

We collaborated with Playtime PR to deliver a campaign for IMC Toys, bringing their VIP Pets brand to TikTok. We identified that the growing ASMR trend on TikTok would be a great way to introduce the product.

The ASMR TikTok trend features relaxing or soothing videos with satisfying sounds. It’s incredibly popular, and we could see it coming. The #ASMR hashtag now has an incredible 380billion views and counting. Even offshoots of this genre like #ASMRsounds and #ASMRvideo have 43.3bn and 24.1bn views respectively. 

But we also knew we could make it relevant. ASMR shows that young people don’t just use social media to connect with friends – they also rely on it for entertainment and stress relief. The same can be said for toys.

@itzshauni check out the channeI in my BlO😻🔥 @vippetsofficial #vippets #collectible ♬ original sound - Shauni 🪱

The TikTok audience doesn’t respond well to traditional advertising, so we had to find a way to bring up this product ‘organically’. The answer: influencers.

We  partnered with both Gen Z and family influencers who would introduce and show off the product, giving the audience a chance to see all its features and accessories. Influencers were given full creative control, making the final content diverse and genuinely interesting. The campaign was incredibly popular with 5.7M views on TikTok.

Psst, have you heard about our weekly TikTok trends newsletter?

Using data from Bytesights, we share a weekly roundup of the best TikTok trends, plus how your brand can use them. You’ll see the best examples, tips for getting it right, and you’ll learn about your TikTok audience. 

Click the link to find out more.

2. Create challenges and reveals

Core to TikTok culture is the aspect of a ‘challenge’ – where users are asked to replicate something they’ve seen in a video, or do something for a prize. People love watching challenges and reveals because they’re curious about the outcome. 

And that curiosity pays out: TikTok’s algorithm boosts videos with high watch-through rates. So if you can keep people watching until the end, you’ll see far higher viewing figures.

We helped launch a campaign for Minibrands (miniature versions of everyday products). In our first phase, we partnered with our in-house influencers in the Bytehouse, who pretended to do a ‘tour of the house’, later revealing that everything in the tour was actually mini toys in a doll’s house. Bytehouse influencers also posted about the products they used, and unboxed them on TikTok. This alone resulted in 1.6M views.

In the second phase, we used a challenge: the Bytehouse was challenged to purchase real products at Tesco, to match the Minibrands collection. This communicated where one could buy Minibrands, but also encouraged people to watch the videos for longer. People were curious about how ‘realistic’ Minibrands looked, where to find them, and what products were available. 

To read more about how we drove a 25% engagement rate for Mini Brands and gained over 14.8 million views, read our case study.

3. Show off influencers’ personalities

Influencers are a common theme in these toy marketing examples – and it’s no surprise why. 

Influencers are a marketer’s best friend. That’s because using the right influencer can catapult a campaign directly to a target audience; 87% of Gen Z follow an influencer, and 44% have made a purchase decision because of an influencer. They’re masters of content creation and know how to make the perfect video for their specific audience.

@ashmagic The RUBIK’S cube!!🤯 @heli.jones #sydney #australia ♬ original sound - Ash Magic💜

When Rubik’s approached us to help introduce their iconic brand to a new audience of young consumers, we asked our influencers to take control of content: resulting in original, interesting videos. 

Working with influencers allows brands to tap into their platform knowledge, thereby benefitting from things like their understanding of trending audios, challenges, and internet shorthand that might not otherwise be factored into an advertising campaign strategy. You can learn more about how to work with influencers in this article

Two of our Bytesights influencers used the iconic Rubik’s cube to play the popular ‘Expose Yourself’ game that used the trending ‘Vibe for this year’ audio. These switched the portrayal of Rubik’s cubes from old-fashioned, to relevant and current. These videos did incredibly well with our influencers’ audiences: resulting in over 3.3M views, nearly half a million likes and a whopping 13% engagement rate. 

4. Personify toys in native content

One toy manufacturer who is well aware of the power of influencers is legacy brand Mattel. The toy company recently brought Barbie to TikTok – and their campaign sees Barbie get her own TikTok account. 

This video, for example, taps into the ASMR trend we identified above. But what’s new here is that the format of the TikTok video itself helps Barbie feel more like a real person. By personifying the doll to create native-style content, it’s an extension of how children play with the product: imagining her to be a real woman.

@barbie The sudsy symphony of a clean car 🎶😊🚗🧽 #Barbie #ASMR #CleanTok #Satisfying ♬ original sound - barbie

In a statement, a Mattel representative explained how, “As a leading global toy company, we knew it was essential to debut Mattel brands on TikTok in a unique and authentic way that will further engage our multi-generational audience and expand our brand footprints.” 

Mattel combined this with a robust influencer marketing strategy on TikTok to capture the attention of a huge audience and talk about the toys as consumers and fans of the brand. We have worked on several campaigns in this way, including using our own “Barbie girl”, Bytesized Talent influencer Phoebe Sykes (@phoebe_sykes). 

This means TikTokers have practical sales information, but can also find ‘Barbie herself’ as the brand’s focal point on its own channel. 

5. Leverage FOMO

Gen Z audiences are increasingly searching out experiences over products to purchase. That’s unsurprising given that Millennials had already kicked off this trend, and young people are seizing the opportunity to create memorable experiences now that lockdowns have lifted. But how can toy makers adapt?

Answer: marketing through FOMO (fear of missing out). This was a tactic we were able to tap into for Zuru when marketing their new X-Shot Water Fast Fill blaster. The toy brand partnered with us to find influencers to post videos of themselves using the water gun. We knew that it was important to include the toy’s features, but we also got our talent to imagine games in which customers would use the item.

The result? Content that effectively highlighted the central selling-point of the toy: fun. 

@the3halls Ad- Out with the Zuru X-Shot Water Blaster Range, they refill in just 1 second. @bunchoballoons @smythstoys #xshotwater #waterblaster ♬ dance(256762) - TimTaj

Working with a range of influencers, we were able to create a sense of ‘FOMO’ in users, who were prompted to search for the product in toy stores to have a go themselves. 

This campaign, while relatively simple in concept, achieved over 2 million views for the Zuru product launch – proof that, sometimes simply highlighting how fun a toy is, can be the most effective marketing strategy

Conquer the toy market on TikTok

We’ve put together a handy guide for toy brands looking to make waves on TikTok. It’s entirely free, so download it now to get more insights and learnings to make your brand the top of everyone’s wish lists.

Toy marketing - it’s playtime!

There are incredible opportunities available for toy brands who take to TikTok for their next marketing campaign. 

The social media platform has been catapulting campaigns to viral success across all industries, and the toy industry is no different. 

While it can be intimidating to work out where to begin, we hope these toy marketing strategies show you what’s possible for your toy brand on TikTok. The key takeaway should be that toy manufacturers should begin by embracing the quirks of advertising on a platform as unique as TikTok, which means embracing influencer partnerships, joining trends, and creating content that’s just as fun and entertaining as the product it aims to promote. 

Do all that, and you’re well on your way to TikTok toy marketing success. Trust us – we’ve done it all before…

… and we can do it again. So if you want to learn more about how we can help your toy brand market on TikTok, contact us. We’ve got scalable solutions to suit giants like Hasbro or Lego, to small businesses. Or read on for more expert insights:

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