The store offers choose-your-own-adventure videos which let consumers browse and buy.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Mattel and Walmart are trying out interactive video to market and sell toys ranging from Barbie to a castle based on the forthcoming movie Frozen II. Both companies are leasing floors in a new virtual store called KidHQ, which lets users browse toys and merchandise in videos with various choose-your-own-adventure formats.
In Walmart’s Toy Lab, for example, users can examine, test and watch children (played by actors) play with 40 different toys including a transforming Batmobile and a Star Wars lightsaber. On Mattel’s Barbie DreamFloor, users can help Barbie create her own video blog while browsing products such as a Barbie house or space shuttle. The videos intermittently point out that they are ads.
A ‘grownups only’ floor allows parents to view their children’s wish lists and buy toys through Walmart.com.
“It’s a new way for kids to interact with the Barbie brand,” said Janet Hsu, chief franchise officer at Mattel. “[Sales] wouldn’t hurt, but the reason we are doing this is to deepen the engagement with the brand.”
KidHQ was built by Eko, a startup that received $250m in funding from Walmart last October to create a joint venture for interactive programming. Walmart and Eko experimented with an initial version of a Toy Lab that generated 8m interactions, Eko said. Visitors spent an average of 13 minutes and had 13 interactions per visit, the company said. 12% of users also added a toy to their wish lists, the company said.
“What we are seeing here is a real hole left by Toys R Us leaving the ecosystem,” Ivy Sheibar of KidHQ said. “We’re giving kids and parents a place to experience toys, while giving parents the ability to understand what their kids are interested in—but doing it in a way that can be fun for both.”
The minimum commitment for a floor in the new KidHQ is seven figures, according to a person familiar with the matter. The KidHQ videos for Mattel and Walmart were produced by BuzzFeed as part of a larger content deal between Eko and the publisher.