By Gloria Watson 

Listen, love it or hate it, as a mommy or daddy you are expected to give some awesome gifts during the holiday season to those smaller versions of you with shining eyes and hopeful hearts.

But what happens when the hottest gift of the year is SOLD OUT … EVERYWHERE? I’m looking at you Hatchimals and the nightmare your fantastic, targeting marketing created over Christmas 2016.

How are parents even know what the hot gifts are going to be?!?

This can be a beyond frustrating experience for any parent but there are a few hacks you can use to help avoid disappointment this holiday season. Strategy is key.

  1. Start early. And I mean early. I know some of us rely on those warm and fuzzy holiday feelings that start showing up in December to get our shopping mojo going. But the reality is that if your kid wants the hottest toy of the season, you might not get one if you wait until December. Marketers plan for the holiday season all year round so keep your ear to the ground and start feeling out what’s going to be hot this season. As you can tell from this Google Trends chart, Christmas chatter regularly starts in August and picks up drastically in October. And this year’s data is no different. The steep rise in chatter has already begun. Marketers are paying attention to these data and putting product on shelves in the fall so be ready to commit early! 
  2. Leverage social media and stay on top of the chatter on blogs and groups. My best intelligence on what is hot and where I can purchase said hot items usually comes from social media groups. To make sure I don’t miss a thing, I belong to two neighbourhood groups, a city-wide group, and a trading group. These groups are a powerful resource for crowdsourcing information, and they do the legwork for you! And, as you see in the image here, everyone wants to be helpful so you’ll often see progressive posts with updates on stock at various stores. Entertain on a Dime is one example of a great Facebook group for residents of Ontario, Canada. Once again, marketers are paying attention to these groups too so when you hear the chatter, they do too and they’re paying attention to the targeted audience too.
  3. Be better together. Are you and a friend on the hunt for the same hot toy? Go Survivor style and build an alliance with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, and classroom parents. Make a pact that if one of you is out shopping and sees the toy, you’ll purchase it for the other parents too. Nothing builds a friendship better than helping each other during times of “crisis!”
  4. Think outside the box. Sold out online! Sold out in-store! But wait… is it sold out in the US, Europe, or Asia? Companies like Borderlinx, comGateway, and VPost are also paying attention to which toys are hot and running out. They’ve innovated to meet customer needs that aren’t being met through traditional routes. These types of companies can even help you get around shipping restrictions by creating an international forwarding address you can use with online retailers. 

A bonus word for brands and marketers: Nothing builds goodwill with your customers better than a nice discount / early access / exclusive offer code. Permeate tactics like these throughout your top social media channels and you’ll be the talk of the parenting groups. But do it early and make it worthwhile.