For the last sixty or so years, the kickoff to the holiday season wasn’t Christmas music on the speakers in the local CVS, the appearance of Egg Nog on grocery store shelves or the pop-up tree markets. The holiday season began and was anticipated by the arrival of the big Toys R Us catalog. It’s likely that every child in the last few decades has memories of sitting at their kitchen table with a pen, circling the gifts they’d like to receive from Santa that year. Now that Toys R Us has closed its doors, many have wondered if this experience is one that will only live in memory.
Enter, Amazon, ready to save nostalgia’s day. Not only is Amazon releasing its first toy catalog this year, it’s of course, doing it better.
Seize an Opportunity
Perhaps Amazon’s best business strategy has been to seize opportunity, to fill gaps in the market where there’s already a demand. This strategy is not necessarily a new idea. In fact, kairos is a rhetorical concept developed by the ancient Greeks, meaning the right or critical opportune moment. Toys R Us held the reins on the toy industry for decades which means they left behind a huge market, primed and ready to spend. It’s no wonder that Amazon stepped in to fill the role, but why continue investing in the catalog? Why not throw a huge budget at digital advertising instead? The answer is nostalgia. People want to receive the toy catalog. In fact, 42% of people who receive a catalog (any catalog) in the mail, read it, according to the United States Postal Service and the Association of National Advertisers. Catalogs are as festive as hanging a wreath on one’s front door. Playing into the need for nostalgia, Amazon’s “Ultimate Wish List for Kids” catalog even has a retro design, leveraging parents’ fond memories of catalog shopping.
Lend a Little Mystery
Amazon’s toy catalog may have a throwback look, but its strategy is progressive. For one, there are no prices listed for any of the toys in the catalog—a bold move, but a smart one. The absence of prices provides both parents and kids to have a better experience with the catalog in two ways.
For one, it eliminates the anxiety over the monetary value of toy, allowing parents to focus more on the product’s value: if it’s an educational game, maybe it’s the lessons their child might learn while playing with it, or it could be as simple as the happiness the toy will bring to their child. An emotional connection to a product is stronger motivation to purchase, regardless of its actual cost.
Second, the catalog in general, is image-oriented with very little information about the toys at all. There are no long-winded descriptions reminiscent of the 400-page Sears’ catalogs. The images are big and plenty, and the copy scarce. Parents must now go to Amazon’s website to fulfill their need for more purchase information. From there, they’re one step closer to converting.
In this case, curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, and a lack of information can actually be good marketing strategy.