Tips for Navigating through the Toy Store

Saturday, 1 January 2011

If a trip to the toy store with your kids bruises your bank account, you likely need a better shopping strategy. We say safety first. After that, weigh cost against how long the toy is likely to remain of interest to your child. And try these other tactics too.

1. Explain the Basic Concepts of Marketing

When shopping with children, an early lesson in marketing can’t hurt. Explain to children as young as five or six years old why they see commercials and how toy makers try to get kids to buy their toys.

Talk to them about how companies create a need to buy lots of toys. This won’t stop them from buying into the latest fads from time to time (don’t we all?) but at least they can begin to understand it.

2. The Perils of Product Placement

When you walk into the store, think product placement. Major department stores like Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us typically put the latest and most advertised toys at the very back of the store. You and junior will have to pass by many other temptations before you get what you came for, and then pass by them all again on your way to the checkout. (A similar tactic to that used by grocery stores!)

3. Consider Educational Toys

The shelves of educational toys are expanding all the time and becoming more inviting. These sections of the store are often carpeted, allowing kids and parents to sit down and thumb through books and learning materials that aren’t as immediately interactive as noisy monster trucks and talking dolls.

4. Evaluate Playability

When your child has a particular toy in his or her sights, help him or her evaluate it for both sturdiness and creative longevity – will it hold his or her interest beyond one play session? Learning toys are great, but kids can experience educational overload. Basic play is important too.

5. The Value of Money vs. Toys

And here’s a test to find out how badly your child wants the toy: Would he or she spend his or her own money? (A little dose of reality always helps!)


So whether you’re toy shopping or stocking up on baby food, check out our tips in our Kid Stuff section to help you get the most for your shopping dollar. 

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