WORLD NEWS

Walmart and Mattel lease ‘floors’ in new virtual toy store KidHQ

Published on: 17th October 2019

The store offers choose-your-own-adventure videos which let consumers browse and buy. 

A child actor encourages visitors to make a choice in the interactive-video store KidHQ.

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.

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