If there was any doubt about YouTube’s power to influence children, look no further than this year’s list of the hottest holiday toys, based on Google shopping search data. According to the search giant, at least four of the top 10 most searched toys were among those heavily featured in YouTube unboxing videos — subsequently turning them into the most in-demand and best-selling toys of the holiday season. Plus, another top toy is the JoJo Siwa Singing doll — a product from the YouTube star of the same name.
Clearly, we’re long past the days where TV commercials are the ways toy makers are reaching children. Instead, they’re leveraging the power of YouTube to drive hype and interest in their products, as Google’s list and those from the major retailers themselves show.
In particular, MGA Entertainment is having a great 2018 holiday season. The company, which is best known for disrupting Barbie with its Bratz dolls back in the day, is today the force behind some of the most in-demand toys, like L.O.L Surprise! and Num Noms, plus top preschooler brand Little Tikes, and others.
The toy maker has not one but three of its L.O.L. Surprise! toys on Google’s list this year, which the search giant points out were also all the subject of numerous YouTube unboxing videos over the holiday shopping season, which helped drive searches. The most searched for toy — Spin Master’s Luvabella doll — was also regularly featured across YouTube, the company notes.
This search data turns into real-world sales, too. Though we’ll have to wait for the holidays to wrap to get the final count, already L.O.L Surprise! toys have made their way onto Amazon’s Holiday Toy List, for example, and its Best Sellers. In fact, L.O.L. Surprises have claimed half the spots on Amazon’s top 10 list of the Best Selling Toys & Games, as of today. (And they’ve snagged spots further down the list: L.O.L Surprise! toys are the No. 13 and No. 34 best sellers, too.)
Not coincidentally, L.O.L. Surprises are the sort of toy that’s designed perfectly for the YouTube era. They’re basically made for unboxing.
The toys themselves are not sold in transparent packaging, but are rather hidden away inside some sort of container — a box, case or a ball, for example. The excitement for the kids comes from the unboxing process itself — only then will they see their doll and all their accompanying accessories. Sometimes there’s another step, too — like decoding secret messages on the outside of the packaging, or dunking a fizz in some water to reveal the enclosed toy.
With multiple steps to even get to the toy itself, it’s ideal content for YouTube. Combined with YouTubers’ high-pitched squeals of joy as they work their way through the process, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for selling toys.
Other most-searched toys from Google’s list also made an appearance on Amazon’s Top Toy list of 2018, like LEGO Friends Heartlake City Resort and the Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit, for example.
Google’s list is also biased toward tech toys, with top searches for things like the DJI Tello, VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX, as well as the Harry Potter kit, in addition to classics from NERF and LEGO.
Amazon’s best sellers include some VTech and Melissa and Doug products, but not the specific SKUs Google had picked up on.
YouTube’s influence can be spotted on Walmart’s toys list, as well.
In its list of top toys rated by kids, L.O.L Surprise!, Pikmi Pops, Hatchimals and Fingerlings — all of which star in dozens upon dozens of unboxing videos — make several appearances.
And then, of course, there’s Ryans World Giant Mystery Egg, which comes from one of the best-known YouTubers to date — the 7-year-old millionaire and toy unboxer supreme, Ryan of Ryan ToysReview who scored a lucrative deal with Walmart to launch his toy line. Walmart senior buyer Brad Bedwell recently told Yahoo Finance the toy egg has been “the big winner of the season.”
Walmart was pretty savvy to scoop up Ryan for this exclusive deal.
“Years ago, kids would have been glued to the TV watching the traditional channels, and now they’re watching content everywhere. They’re still watching TV, but they’re also watching it on tablets and parents’ cellphones,” Bedwell told Yahoo. “Everywhere they are, they can look at and consume content. And YouTube is now up there with the major TV channels with how many kids watch it.”