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Toy companies are scrambling to get hot on social media

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Not only has TikTok become the preferred search engine of young people, it has also become the main place kids go to discover the toys they want (and beg their parents for).

Why it matters: The places where “hot” toys catch on guide the whole advertising industry — and this season’s hot holiday toys are heavily tied to apps, video games, and social media influencers.

  • Manufacturers are hastily shifting their marketing dollars from TV to TikTok, YouTube, and other places where influencers strut their stuff.

Driving the news: At a “hot” holiday toy preview event at New York City’s Chelsea Piers this week, toy brands were talking up their products’ social media cred and the licensing deals they had with influencers and video game franchises.

  • “It’s one thing to have a show on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon,” said Joel Alicea, marketing director of Bonkers Toys. “The reality is, kids are watching YouTube, kids are on TikTok.”
  • All his company’s toys — which include a line of Addison Rae dolls and figurines tied to the YouTube video gamer Aphmau — are yoked to specific influencers.
  • A lot of toys had tie-ins to games kids play on Roblox and Nintendo Switch.
    • For instance, each “Twilight Daycare” collectible baby doll comes with a code redeemable for goods on the super-popular Roblox game.

Case study: A shape-puzzle toy called Kanoodle has had an unexpected burst of popularity thanks to a math tutor who calls herself Miss Arlene and posts superfan videos on TikTok and Instagram (using a hashtag she coined: #kanoodlechallenge).



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