Amazon.com is dropping its first-ever printed holiday toy catalog to millions of customers starting this month, according to a report on CNBC. The catalog features 70 pages of cozily-clad kids surrounded by toys such as action figures, board games and Barbies, as well as high-end items such as Bose audio gear and PlayStations. The book is similar in style to traditional marketing catalogs, but with some twists. For example, no prices are listed. Shoppers have to go Amazon's website to find out how much the products actually cost. (This was reportedly done by design: The lack of published prices enables Amazon to change its pricing to stay competitive as the season heats up.) In addition, some of the featured toys come with a QR code, allowing readers to instantly scan and shop for more products. Readers can also scan the product images in the catalog with their Amazon app to get more information and add them to their shopping cart. Digital versions of the catalog are available on Kindle and in PDF form online.
Total Retail's Take: Let's face it: Amazon's holiday toy catalog, which has a distinct retro look, is designed to appeal to consumers who were used to receiving catalogs from the now defunct Toys"R"Us this time of year. Amazon isn't the only company looking to cash in on Toys"R"Us' absence this holiday season. Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, are all beefing up their toy catalogs to get a bigger piece of the nation’s $3.3 billion toy market. Walmart is boosting its in-store toy merchandise by 30 percent and online toy merchandise by 40 percent. Furthermore, it's also hosting about 2,000 events to promote the new products. Target is expanding its toy collection, too, nearly doubling the category vs. last year. It has expanded its toy sections and remodeled 100 stores to account for an increase in toy shoppers this season.
Lewis Gersh, marketing venture capitalist and CEO of direct mail innovator PebblePost, lauded Amazon for continuing to effectively bridge the gap between digital and physical with its new holiday toy mailer. "I imagine that Amazon will likely use its vast trove of customer data to ensure that the millions who receive its catalog are, in fact, customers predisposed to buy toys this season," Gersh told Total Retail. "That is the critical element for retailers looking to reignite traditional marketing channels, like direct mail, this holiday season. Amazon’s catalog — and any other holiday mailer — will only be meaningful and appreciated if it reaches shoppers most likely to be delighted by its products, with a message that resonates with them.“