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Walmart's biggest-ever holiday toy list is dominated by kid influencers

Julia La Roche

It's August 27th, which means summer is just about over.

And on the same day that Starbucks made an early reintroduction of its Pumpkin Spice Latte, Walmart (WMT) also evoked cooler weather by posting its biggest ever "hottest toy" list for the holidays.

The world's largest retailer dropped a list with 48 toys, rated by kids who tested and played with hundreds of products. The collection includes dolls, scooters, and games.

This season, Walmart will increase its exclusive toy offering in stores and online by 25% — and is adding over 40 new toys from kid-influencer brands.

"When you think about that, that's really powerful because [kids] can now watch their peers actually playing or doing something and then it's not just their parents or an adult showing it to them,” said Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart.

“And I think that's been a powerful trend and a powerful outcome of all of this. I don't think that's going away," she added.

The kid-influencer trend is on the rise as children increasingly watch their peers playing with toys on YouTube channels. In a sense, the kids are becoming the authority for themselves when it comes to what they want from a toy experience.

Last year, some of Walmart’s hottest toys came from the line of kid-influencer Ryan, a 7-year-old YouTube star with a massively popular channel called Ryan ToysReview.

He’s among the highest-paid YouTube stars with more than 21.3 million channel subscribers. At the time, Walmart partnered with Pocketwatch and Bonkers Toys to bring Ryan's line to the big-box retailer — and the product flew off the shelves.

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’America’s Best Toy Shop’

A year ago, Walmart set out to be "America's Best Toy Shop" in a changing retail landscape. The bankruptcy of iconic Toys "R" Us left a void in the toy space, which Amazon (AMZN) has set out to fill using its own toy catalog.

At the time, Walmart increased its offering of new toys on store shelves by 30% and upped its online toy offering by 40%. Walmart also offered 1,000 toy exclusives.

The success with Ryan led Walmart to think more broadly about kid-influencers. One of the insights is that kids love watching other kids unboxing and interacting with toys.

"It was about revealing the toy in a different way; the experience of that reveal was different,” Kehoe said.

“Opening the package was as much fun as what was inside the package. That's what gave us the courage to decide we wanted to go big on Ryan last year," she added.

This year season, another YouTube channel, Tic Tac Toy, will have their unboxing toy called the XOXO Friends Multipack featured on Walmart's hottest toys list. Kehoe said that the experience with Ryan led the company to rethink its strategy.

"Last year, we wouldn't have thought about them at all," Kehoe said.

Below are some highlights the 2019 hottest toys list:

Famous Friends:

6V Plush Simba (*Walmart exclusive)

Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak (Walmart exclusive gift box)

Paw Patrol Mighty Pups Super Paws Lookout Tower

Unboxing Toys:

LOL Surprise 2-N-1 Glamper

Tic Tac Toy XOXO Friends Multipack

What's In My Purse - Doll Purse (Walmart exclusive)

Interactive Toys:

Build A Bear Workshop Stuffing Station Value Box (Walmart exclusive)

Juno The Baby Elephant

Nascar Crash Racers Track Set (Walmart exclusive)

Outdoor Fun:

24V Real Tree UTV (*Walmart exclusive)

Hover-1 Hoverboard and Kart Combo (*Walmart exclusive)

Hover-1 Transport Scooter (*Walmart exclusive)

Aspirational Play:

Barbie Dreamplane

Kindi Kids Doll

Scruff-A-Luv My Real Rescue (*Walmart exclusive)


Cynosa Chroma Keyboard

HP Pavilion Gaming Lap

Kraken Grn 2019

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter. Send tips to laroche@oath.com.

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