Seven out of ten toy purchases were planned, with the first decision made being where to shop, according to Toy Purchase Decisions, the most recent report from leading market research company, The NPD Group. According to the report, over three-quarters of toy buyers who made planned purchases knew where they wanted to shop. While 90% of these retailer-driven shoppers actually made the purchase where they originally planned, when asked what they would have done if the toy they planned on buying was not available, just over 40% said they would look for the same product in a different store. Of the unplanned purchases, nearly two-thirds were influenced by an item-related factor, with the primary reason being that the specific toy item was requested by the child. Two other competing factors include eye-catching packaging and product display. Analysis of the results also show that price point plays a significant role in making unplanned purchases, since the two categories with the most unplanned purchases also have the lowest average retail prices. “As we head into the critical holiday season, during which approximately 50% of annual toy revenues are generated, it’s important for manufacturers and retailers to understand just what it is that drives toy purchase decisions among parents and gift-givers,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Getting into the mind of the buyer provides crucial insight to drive key business decisions including packaging and pricing strategies, in-store promotional plans, and many other elements of the marketing mix to optimize holiday sales.” Retailer Loyalty and Selection Among all toy shoppers, a convenient store location and pricing are the most influential factors for choosing a retailer. The next set of most influential factors include assortment and selection. Results of the study also show that close to three-quarters of toy shoppers prefer one-stop shopping over visiting specialty stores, supporting an obvious advantage in the mass merchant channel. The vast majority of toy buyers (78%) say they prefer to buy in stores versus online because they want the ability to see the products before purchasing them. “This identifies the need to provide those who shop online with even more user-friendly search options for online purchasing such as category listings, product reviews, recommendations and filtering options,” said Frazier. What Are Consumers Thinking and Doing While Shopping for Toys? Once in the store, consumers are faced with the task of choosing a suitable toy for the intended recipient. As pricing is a key factor in choosing a retailer, it is also a key factor when it comes to choosing a specific toy. Seventy percent of toy buyers say they typically have a price in mind and then seek out a product that meets their criteria. Among those who considered more than one toy during the purchase occasion there are a slightly different set of purchase drivers. The primary driver is not price or value, but whether or not product information was clearly included on the toy packaging. In other words, when comparing multiple products, consumers are turning to the product packaging to help them decide on the final purchase. Source: “Toy Purchase Decisions,” conducted by The NPD Group, August 27, 2009. Website: www.npd.com.