Lessons in Influencer Outreach: Hatchimal vs. Furby

 The hottest 2016 holiday toy is without a doubt the aptly named Hatchimal-an interactive, electronic plush critter that literally hatches from a large plastic egg before your eyes. Like many parents of the grade school set, I simply had to find one to place beneath our Christmas tree (and finding a Hatchimal has not been easy this season).Because my daughter's favorite social influencers had reviewed and played with the Hatchimal, she had built up an appetite and desire for this toy-asking for it by name. She was actively hoping to find it under the tree.We had our family celebration early and I can report that the Hatchimal is indeed a hit. Interestingly, my daughter also received a Furby Boom-a similar toy which, by all rights, may be cooler in many ways than the Hatchimal. She opened the Furby first and loved it, but it was dropped like a hot potato as soon as she unwrapped her Hatchimal.The Furby is getting short shrift in our house, and I think I know why. As a marketer and PR pro, here are my takeaways and lessons for influencer outreach:

  1. Know your audience.The Hatchimal is clearly targeted at young grade school kids. Every family-oriented gift guide and hot toy prediction I read before the holidays all pointed to the Hatchimal as one of the hot gifts.The Furby, on the other hand, is a bit confusing. Hasbro, its manufacturer, knows a thing or two about marketing to families with kids, but is it for young kids like my daughter or for tweens and teens? A quick search online reveals that it may be better suited for the latter.
  1. Engage your social influencers.You might be surprised to learn that a six-year-old has social influencers but Kelli Maple, my daughter's favorite, has amassed 334,143 channel subscribers and more than 364,984,629 video views since starting her YouTube channel in 2014.It's no coincidence that buzz about the Hatchimal coincided with its review and debut on several kid vloggers' channels. When Kelli features a new toy-as she did with Hatchimal this fall-kids take notice and start asking moms and dads.
  1. Get your product in influencers' hands at the right time.From the moment my daughter saw Kelli Maple interacting with her Hatchimal, it's been on her wish list. Even though Kelli's vlog was entitled "Hatchimal Fail" and was all about how it didn't hatch quite as it was supposed to, she still made my daughter want one. The timing of the post, just two months before Christmas, was no coincidence.If I were counseling Hasbro, I would recommend they send Furbys to anyone who had positively reviewed the Hatchimal - why not jump on the "hot toy du jour" bandwagon and offer Furby as a fun alternative for anyone who can't find the Hatchimal?

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