Supply Chain Scramble—What’s the Story for the Kids???

by Nancy Zwiers | 11 Nov 2021

The Bloom Report

Supply Chain Scramble—What’s the Story for the Kids???

By Nancy Zwiers

My heart goes out to all the manufacturers and retailers out there who are trying to meet holiday consumer demand amidst this unprecedented supply chain challenge.

Industry decision-makers are scrambling and are making bold moves to secure more supply in time for the holidays.  That said, I live in Long Beach, CA and see the ocean freighters piling up outside the port, waiting for a berth or enough longshoremen and trucking labor to unload.  At the twin ports—Long Beach and Los Angeles--the containers are piled high. No matter how herculean the efforts are, there will be portions of toy shelves that will remain empty.

@MattTownsend of #Bloomberg News on 10/19 posted an article on LinkedIn predicting 40% of holiday purchases will be in the form of gift cards. The article focuses on how young adults, notoriously difficult to shop for, prefer the open-ended flexibility of a gift card as a gift.  I worry that this potential one-size fits all solution is not really a viable solution for young children who still believe in Santa Claus. As CMO of Spin Master in 2016 during the Hatchimals craze, I still remember how desperate parents were to get their hands on a Hatchimal and how angry they were at us when they couldn’t. In retrospect, I think we could have been more proactive about preempting the anger.

  • With all the exhortations to shop early, we know not everyone will.
  • We also know that kids relate to the concrete—a plastic card that is an abstract representation of value and does not work well for kids under 8. They are still in the concrete mental stage.

Possible Indicated Actions (as thought starters):

  1. Storytelling--Can we, as an industry, come together to support parents and their kids with a story that will protect the magic of the holidays?
  2. A New Shopping Occasion—Can we, as an industry, turn lemons into lemonade and create a “Christmas in January or February” that kids can look forward to?

Storytelling—let’s mount an industry-wide campaign with a whimsical video from Santa promoted on social media and in earned media that parents in the lurch can leverage to soften kids' disappointment:

“Important Update from Santa’s Workshop:  Santa here--I had to lock down my workshop during the pandemic to protect my elves.  Now they are vaccinated, and they are making toys as fast as they can, but we need more time to make all the toys.  I promise I will make second(!) swing around the world with my sleigh full of toys to make sure we bring all the children the toys on their wish lists.”

A New Shopping Occasion—just like Black Friday and Cyber Monday were created to move purchases up in the season, we can do the same to move purchases back to a time when toys are available.  We can pick a day (after Valentines) where the popular toys out-of-stock in December can be piled high in feature locations and promote the event to drive consumers into the stores.  Consumers can pre-order for pick up on the special date in February.

This seems like a time for the industry to boldly come together in recognition that we are not merely purveyors of toys--We are champions of children and the magic of childhood.  As an industry, we can reinforce that we truly care about our young consumers by taking special steps to support parents in helping their kids deal with their disappointment over toys MIA.  In these unprecednted times, we can promise them a second Christmas...a make good, if you will.

Why not try?

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