Jo Hall Toys R Us speaking at Customer Experience Conference 2015

How Toys”R”Us positions itself as a media channel

In keeping up with the rapidly changing Asian consumer, toy retailer Toys”R”Us is trying to transform itself into more than just a brick and mortar store. It is now positioning itself as a viable media channel.

Speaking at Marketing’s Customer Experience Conference 2015, Jo Hall, regional general manager of merchandise and marketing for Toys”R”Us (Asia) said the company’s media channel strategy stemmed from the need to tap into the digitally savvy APAC customers.

Social media aiding in its evolution

With an impressive 300 million page views on YouTube, and more than 36 million and 17 million viewers in Singapore and Hong Kong respectively, the brand consistently pushes its curated content on social media sites to reach out to its consumers and keep them entertained. This not only drives interest, but also builds on a loyal consumer base.

Hall elaborated that one successful content push by the brand was when it developed its digital “advent calendar app” where parents could count down to Christmas with their children, allowing “parents to interact with their children and share an experience”.

As one of the leading children’s websites in Hong Kong and Singapore, Toys”R”Us leverages its social media reach to push out new products. Building on the excitement around the debut of the Apple Watch, Toys”R”Us launched its own Kidizoom smartwatch via a campaign on WeChat. The brand currently has more than 400,000 followers in China and Hong Kong.

The campaign saw 28,494 followers viewing the message, with 40% of them (11,673) landing on the buy page within the first two hours of the product’s launch.

“This number was unprecedented in social media,” Hall said.

To meet the demands of the fast-adopting millennial consumer, Toys”R”Us has integrated all its different media channels. Given the average APAC consumer has at least four different devices, the need to know how to market to the consumer in a versatile manner is more pertinent than ever, explained Hall.

In-store experiences still matter

Despite the proliferation of digital, on-ground and in-store experiences still matter for the brand, especially in Asia where “shopping in malls is part of quality family leisure time”, said Hall.

In 2015, the retailer is catering to the selfie phenomenon by providing selfie stations with green screens for customers to create unique selfie moments which it hopes will ultimately result in increased time spent in stores. Toys”R”Us will continue to roll out augmented reality booths and 3D floor stickers to entertain families entering the store.

The brand also prides itself on making its stores more of a “theme park [experience] rather than a trolley dash”.

Hall added that speed to market is a priority for the brand. Working with the Rubber Duck sculpture floating on Hong Kong’s Harbour Bay in 2013 that attracted about 300,000 visitors per day, Toys”R”Us launched a “Bye-bye Duck Party” by selling replicas of the iconic duck. Additionally, it set up 3D printing booths and recreated the store experience for consumers.

Events are also a big marketing initiative for the brand. For example, the company capitalises on events such as the Chinese New Year and Children’s Day when targeting its consumers in the region.

Also to lure in customers, the company often sets up pop-up stores to “create excitement and thrill”. These events held off-site from its usual stores tactically expand Toys”R”Us’ physical presence, said Hall.

Hall was speaking at the Customer Experience Conference 2015, a two-day conference held on 11-12 March at the InterContinental Hotel Singapore.

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